Raila Odinga, William Ruto should lose or win with dignity

The election season has been long and treacherous. Today, presidential hopefuls Raila Odinga and William Ruto make their final pitches before rapturous crowds in the city.

Raila will lead the Azimio la Umoja brigade for a wrap-up rally at Kasarani Stadium. Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza team will pitch tent at Nyayo Stadium for their penultimate offensive.

The two leading candidates gave the campaigns their all, at times resorting to the absurd in making a case for their bids. While their language and tone in the last few weeks have not been measured, we can only hope it was nothing personal. This being the last Saturday and only two days to August 9, there’s an overwhelming urge to remind the political elite that the vote will be about nothing but the will of Kenyans. It’s not a life and death affair. Granted, Raila and Ruto don’t have to be president. Kenya is bigger and more important than the two. 

In the Holy book, Apostle Peter vividly tells the church of Christ that he will always remind them what they already know. Raila, Ruto and the voters on the whole must be reminded of some home truths as we prepare for the D-Day.

Whoever wins must be magnanimous in his victory. The loser on the other hand, should lose with dignity and put the country forward instead of self. They should hang on Prof George Saitoti’s philosophy that there comes a time a nation will be greater than an individual. And whatever the outcome, again, the two protagonists must recall the sore sacrifices of our forefathers whose selflessness birthed this republic. Pain and gain for a good purpose is win for all. The winner and loser on August 9 have the all-imposing duty to show the world that we can manage own destiny. Raila and Ruto behaviour at the top will be replicated in their supporters.

When for instance a coalition, a party or a candidate besmirches chiefs and the media, their supporters will do the same. They can choose to uphold the rule of law or drive the country to chaos. Should they make the latter choice, they will have lost it and will only be remembered in ignomny.

It’s that time to calm nerves, freshen up the air and treat opponents with dignity in the interest of democracy. The sanctity of the vote must not be defiled by defiance and disrespect for systems and constitutional agencies.

As voters troop to the August polls, their ultimate choices at the ballot should not just be defined by wishes, promises and the bravado of the presidential candidates and their running mates, rather by the values that drive their ambitions. But there is what it takes to achieve this. Let’s avoid sycophantic loyalty to individuals. It can breed self-centeredness. Unguarded loyalty to persons is risky. Our loyalty should lie in the republic. Reminds me of the happy days of the Jubilee administration when Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said he was ready to take a bullet on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta. How about now that tables have turned?

In this election, Kenyans must vote with their heads. In the ‘Myth of the rational voter: Why democracies choose bad policies,’ author Bryan Kaplan challenges the argument that voters can be judicious people who make sound decisions not informed by selfish interests.

The 19 million voters registered must rise to the occasion lest we be consumed by regrets. Public office must be protected from greed and egoism. The voter should be well aware of the perils of electing a candidate for reasons other than their suitability and capability to lead. Ethnicity cannot always be the measure of a candidate’s worth.

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