Many nondescript and non-talented people owe their political careers to Cord leader Raila Amolo Odinga.
Simply by criss-crossing villages, valleys, town streets and mountains fear-mongering and shouting “Raila!” they have, in spite of their emptiness, become national politicians. Pathetic!
What helps them is that Kenyans first ask, “Where do you come from?” without bothering whether you have anything between your ears when you are seeking political office.
But who really fears Raila and Why? In 2003, Raila was appointed Minister for Roads and, riding in the overwhelming public support for NARC and with Cabinet approval, he declared war on all those who had grabbed road reserves.
He confronted cowboy contractors who did not build roads but were perpetually paid. However, this came at a heavy political cost for he was betrayed. Even those he sat with in Cabinet with and made decisions he was implementing turned against him as he was accused of being vengeful and destroying people’s properties.
Unlike Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila avoided attacking the opposition when he was Prime Minister. Like Kibaki, he focused on core policy and governing issues. That is hardly surprising. Poor people across the country, irrespective of tribe, have benefited from the actions of Raila Odinga as an opposition leader. He speaks for them.
He fights for fair and equal platforms for doing business for them. The new Constitution, which has brought fruits of uhuru to hitherto neglected regions through devolution, was largely midwifed through his efforts. It is with his input as government minister that stolen government properties, including Mau Forest, road reserves, KICC and other establishments, were recovered.
Raila has his weaknesses as a human being, but his work and record speaks for itself. The real people who fear Raila Odinga are beneficiaries of corrupt deals who feel most threatened by the opposition leader.
Why would miraa farmers in Meru come to Raila for help if he hates Gema? Why would ordinary Murang’a people seek Raila’s assistance when the government in power is led by the Kikuyu and is stripping them of their most vital resource – water? When thousands of young Kikuyu were being extra-judicially killed under a Kikuyu regime, it is Raila who spoke out.
Yet, many people have been conditioned to loath Raila because he is ‘controversial.’ This narrative is hawked around like peremende by a small clique that has captured Kenya, privatised it and turned it into a wealth-extracting machine for their friends, relatives and families. These are the people who are oppressing millions of poor Kenyans.
These are the elites who have grabbed land and generated a lot of wealth from the government through unconstitutional means. And if fighting for your people’s right, equity, fair share of country’s resources and demanding accountability from the government is controversy; I mean that is good controversy.
Let us be real. It is the corrupt, the thieves, money-grabbers and land-grabbers who make perpetual claims that Raila is an existential threat. Raila supports a transparent and fair competitive environment for business, which the crooked don’t want.
Raila wants all civil servants to be paid well, but barred from doing business with government so as to eliminate corruption and conflict of interest. Those who benefit from corruption in the civil service don’t want this approach.
Look, who is crying loudest about being ‘targeted’? It is not the ordinary Mijikenda, Kikuyu or Kalenjin. It is those in positions of influence who cannot explain how they got their enormous wealth.
The writer is a director at International Centre for Policy and Conflict
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