Raila Odinga will do himself a great deal of good by declining the mock swearing in process

It seems Raila Amollo Odinga is intent on having himself sworn into an office he and all his supporters know just too well does not exist.

There is nowhere in the modern world where anyone has assumed the highest office in the land by being sworn into or swearing themselves into an office that does not have the instruments of power they crave. There is therefore no precedent to go by for anyone attempting to justify the planned Raila swearing in as president on December 12, 2017.

But in this singular intention lies Raila’s greatest test, if not the greatest threat to his hard-fought legacy as Kenya’s foremost reform crusader. In Raila, Kenya has realised phenomenal reforms and his brave determination to unearth electoral fraud recently saw the country’s highest court annul a presidential election won by an incumbent president and force a repeat poll.

Even though he stayed out of the repeat elections, Raila seemed to dictate the pace and direction of the electoral process and when he declined to recognise the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, a huge body of his supporters went along with his argument that the victory lacked the numerical strength to legitimise it.

Fanatical support

The fact that Raila enjoys huge support across the country and counties is not in doubt. Neither can it be doubted that he enjoys almost fanatical support among diehard followers who would do anything in his name. There are people in this country who will not doubt or question any position Raila takes.

To them, Baba (Father) as most of them fondly refer to him, cannot put a foot wrong. So they will go along with his planned swearing in without the slightest question or resistance.

Those followers want Raila to be their president even if it is in name only. But urging a respected opposition leader of Raila’s stature to go to this extent of seeking to turn himself into a mock president does seriously undermine his political and stately standing, not only in this country but across Africa and the world.

Raila knows too well that his December 12 plan is a date with his political destiny. Depending on how he personally handles it, the events of that date, which also happens to mark Kenya’s 53rd anniversary of independence, could turn out to be Raila’s political Waterloo.

Whether those around him agree with this prognosis or not, it is something Raila must contend with as he moves on with his plans for his swearing in.

It is often stated that great men bear greater responsibility of decision-making than the ordinary individuals who form the bulk of their supporters and Raila is at that critical juncture in his political life that any decision he makes calls for greater personal interrogation and scrutiny than his supporters.

He is at that critical point that calls for more personal judgement than those being persued or pressurised by his supporters.

The sacrifices Raila has made for this country can perhaps only be equated to those made by Nelson Mandela, the icon of freedom in Africa who spent 27 years of his prime and most productive life in prison, but ended up serving for only one term as president of South Africa against pressure from those close to him as well as the ordinary person who wanted him to go for a second term.

Political future

Raila too, must rise to the occasion and decide for himself what his planned swearing in will portend for his political future as the icon of reform and democracy in Kenya. He alone and not the James Orengos, Johnstone Muthamas, Otiende Amollos, or Gladys Wangas of this world should influence his counsel on this matter.

And since he still has his team of principals - Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang'ula, and Musalia Mudavadi - in place, he should be advised to turn to this apex of NASA authority for ultimate counsel before he takes the oath on December 12. And going by their remarkable silence on this matter, Raila could end up driving a fatal sword in the heart of his top political partners if he goes it alone in this swearing in business.

So far Raila has demonstrated his deftness in using legal, constitutional, and popular means to push his reform agenda over the years and this seeming departure from legitimate and acceptable avenues is what could undermine his legacy and turn Raila from a reform hero to a villain of our political generation.

There is no doubt that Kenya demands and deserves urgent electoral reforms as well as attention to all the grievances voiced over the past view months, such as the push for greater integration of all the regions and tribes in government and gender equity, but Raila still has many more and better means of pursuing this noble goals than this charade of swearing himself into a non-existent office.

Mr Musebe is a veteran journalist and political [email protected]