Bitter pill for leaders jostling for William Ruto's ear

Fafi MP Salah Yakub. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

President William Ruto's administration has fully taken form, with the major pending bit being the vetting and subsequent appointment of principal secretaries.

The fringe and tokenism position of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS) could be filled at some point or better abolished in the new scheme of things.  

In recent days, however, big names have gone flat out to seek the president’s attention. They include former governors, former MPs, poll losers and opinion leaders drooling over State jobs.  

In Western Kenya, over-exuberant politicians bash Azimio day and night. They want Raila Odinga out of the way so that one of them can be the region’s kingpin. There have been similar maneuvers by a few restless leaders in Kalonzo Musyoka’s Eastern backyard.

In Central Kenya, hordes of politicians tore into Martha Karua for taking the presidential petition row to the East African Court of Justice. Disparaging Opposition leaders is now the easier trump card in seeking Ruto’s attention. 

This week, we heard the farcical call by an MP to have the presidential term limit removed. Salah Yakub (pictured) of Fafi was deliberately obtuse. He is a stranger in Jerusalem who thinks political manipulation can find favour with Kenyans.

It’s hard to visualise the heroism the legislator sought within UDA by bringing up such a taboo topic at present when 25 counties, including his own, are reeling from vagaries of the worst drought in the horn of Africa. What a misguided gimmick to test the waters! What does term limit got to do with the hustler philosophy?  

As President Ruto often says, Kenya has no shortage of fools. The masses will tell it when leaders push selfish agenda disguised as public interest. Granted, you can’t befool a fool fooled so many times. Petty half-truths won't fly anywhere, anyhow and anytime. 

Politicians out to catch Ruto's ear can do so by contributing solid ideas to his young government. Ideas that can succor the rural poor, create jobs, boost security, unify the nation, sanctify human rights and build our democratic potency. He least needs cavalier ideas of tinkering with term limits or early scheming for 2027 and 2032.   

Anyone seeking favours or State appointment should declare so. It’s nice to be forthright about our wishes. Even in the jostling for the president’s attention, we should avoid sideshows that could ruin the journey. Indeed, some creativity is essential.

Admittedly, the 'job-seekers' have to recognise that not all of them can be accommodated in government. Despite the overdrive to access the feeding trough, the stars may not be fully aligned. President Ruto has many expectations to meet across the nation. He will probably go for merit rather than impulse and egomania.

Simply put, it’s pointless to cheerlead, insult Opposition leaders and name-call to get the attention. Let your ideas and personal traits speak for you.

There are nifty ways of grabbing a leader’ attention. There was a comical case at a rally in Philadelphia in the US where someone threw a book at President Barack Obama. He was an author craving attention for his writing. His uncivilised trick worked.

Meanwhile, we must constantly remind MPs of the perils of changing the law for short-term gain – real or imagined. When they make laws or amend them with certain leaders in mind, it breeds chaos. MP Yakum should know that the Constitution is bigger than Ruto and Raila at any rate.

We can’t take our democracy for granted. We saw the ‘red ties and white shirts’ period of Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto when the Jubilee tyranny of numbers caused amendments to the Elections and Security laws for utter selfish gain. The architects have a troubled conscience to date. Let our actions add value to overall public good. We can then readily get Ruto’s ear.

The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter:@markoloo

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