By JACOB NG’ETICH
During the heated debate in the National Assembly on MPs’ salaries, Leader of Majority party Aden Duale was on the spotlight. A firebrand politician, Duale branded Kenyans ‘thieves’ if it was true the legislators were ‘thieves’ as voters claimed.
“If the MPs are thieves then Kenyans are also thieves because they are the ones who in their wisdom elected these legislators,” he averred.
A week later, while responding to a question in the House about alleged humiliation of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the airport, Duale told off the irate CORD legislators.
“Raila Odinga is a respected leader and he does not need your (CORD) protection. He belongs to the rest of the nation,” he said.
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Call him names, but the Garissa Town MP is not apologetic for his deeds in and outside the House.
“I tell it as it is unlike other politicians who say this while they mean that. I am straightforward and express myself so. The MPs know I don’t mince words and they are comfortable with me,” says Duale. This is Duale’s second time as a lawmaker after he was elected in 2007 as Dujis MP.
Walk in the park
He notes that it has not been a walk in the park for him being Leader of majority party in the current Parliament that has bigger number of legislators compared to the 10th Parliament. He says it takes a lot of wit to rally the House to agree to the Government agenda.
“We have more than 200 MPs in the Jubilee Coalition. I have to make sure they pass all the Government Bills and any other agenda brought to the floor of the House. It involves bringing the Opposition side back to the Government. It is an arduous task but I must do it and sometimes I have to be tough,” he notes.
He elaborates that far from the previous Leader of Government who would have the Cabinet ministers help in answering questions, the current Majority Leader has enormous responsibilities. It is this office that is now charged with answering all the questions raised.
“I am the link between the Executive and the Legislature. It is so demanding that I have to keep contacts regularly with the President, Deputy President and the Cabinet Secretaries. This has been made possible by the cordial relationship I have with them and the MPs on the other part,” he explains.
Given his ‘telling-it-as-it-is’ talk, the Garissa Town MP is a politician who is liked and loathed in equal measure by many political leaders.
“I care little about what my political enemies think about me if at all there are some. They will get used to my brand of politics. I want to ensure that Jubilee Coalition delivers and anything else is just sideshow,” expounds Duale.
His Jubilee Coalition MPs either like or fear him given his position while some CORD counterparts do not have any kind words for him and have accused him of sycophancy. The former High School teacher at Sankuri Secondary School has been accused of ‘having the sycophancy tendencies’ and often praises the President and his Deputy at any opportune time.
Answers to accusations
While answering such accusation levelled against him by Embakasi West MP Simba Arati, Duale said he did not care and that the legislator was free to sing his praise for Raila.
“Given the importance of the National Assembly, I have constant dialogue with Uhuru and Ruto. They have always told me to keep up my good work and that is what matters to me. When the agenda is realised,” he says.
The father of five who recently finished his Executive MBA at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology says getting the House to approve Government projects requires a lot of lobbying. “It always poses a real challenge to me because the Government depends on me in the National Assembly to deliver.”
Former ODM member
He adds, “My being in ODM before has also helped me win over some members of the CORD Alliance to sometimes vote with the Government side. So far so good. We are still on the road to ensure Kenyans’ confidence in the Jubilee-led Government is maintained,” he asserts.
The former Director Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) between 1999 and 2003 exudes confidence that he is equal to task and looks forward for better things.
“I am happy with our achievements especially in the National Assembly. I am yet to lose motion on the floor of the House,” he says.
One apparent thing is that Duale is slowly curving out a brand for himself in Kenyan politics through his position as the Majority Leader. As to whether that brand will endear him to the MPs and help him scale political heights is for time to tell.