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Raila and Ruto are too confident; that’s a recipe for trouble

By Babere Kerata Chacha | Jan 18th 2022 | 3 min read

DP William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Courtesy]

If you examine Raila Odinga and William Ruto, you will notice that their actions, body language and speeches point to a people already too confident about the outcome of the 2022 presidential election. They behave as if they have already won the election.

That is why you can the hear the mention of ‘fifth president’ everywhere the two candidates visit. Both are being referred to as ‘your excellency’ and are enjoying heavy state protection and oozing authority, while falsely signaling to the public that they are in control.

Dr Ruto, considered fearless and brazen enough to confront hurdles on his way, has showed symptoms of overconfidence. This is evident in his habit of constantly receiving delegates in his official home - something no other VP in Kenyan history has ever done, giving orders for completion of road projects and speaking of being unstoppable and projecting himself as God-endorsed leader as opposed to Raila whom he refers to as a witchdoctor. 

Raila has also been projecting an image of a confident next president because of the support he gets directly from Uhuru Kenyatta, enjoying state security and moving around with government officials. Like Ruto, Raila speaks with the authority of a president, in fact when he was in Thika last week, he ordered the completion of a feeder road. Such behaviour creates too much expectations among voters and if not met, can turn explosive. 

It should be noted that one cause of the 2007 post-election violence were the high expectations from voters who had been assured by their candidates that they would win. During campaigns, the candidates had assured their supporters that they would form the next government.

The 2007 violence was sparked by the tense situation surrounding the electoral process and the thwarted high expectations that Raila would win. Indeed, we saw an over confident Raila walking to Uhuru Park to inspect soldiers who were preparing for the official swearing-in. This heightened the expectations of his supporters. 

Before and during the elections, public expectations of presidential aspirants become unreasonable. In 2007, I witnessed in Rongo people slaughtering goats and chicken, ready to celebrate the anticipated victory of Raila. Musical bands were busy entertaining people. Soon it was announced that Kibaki was leading and was likely to become president. What followed were screams, burning of tyres and houses, and road blocks. It was a nightmare.

Let the presidential candidates remain calm and expect to win or lose-- and be ready to  accept the results. They should stop raising the hopes of poor, vulnerable Kenyans. Doing so raises expectations and the consequential disappointment can a trigger a conflict. It is not a big deal being a president of Kenya; it is not a matter of life and death. 

Savvy political leaders avoid making false claims that could later come back to haunt them. Pride doesn’t just come before a fall; pride is what trips you in the first place.

-Dr Chacha teaches at Laikipia University

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