Why Ruto should consider quitting presidency and taking top AU job

President William Ruto addresses the Ordinary Session of The African Union (A.U) in February 2023. [PCS]

The grapevine has it that President William Ruto is likely to prop up Raila Odinga’s candidacy for the African Union Commission’s chairmanship when incumbent Chairman, Moussa Faki’s term ends.

Tucking Raila away for four years would be a godsend for Dr Ruto to whom Raila has been a gadfly. It would pave the way for a relaxed 2027 campaign season for Ruto. 

Thanks to Raila and some self-inflicted bruises, Ruto has hardly relaxed a day in office, and it shows. With Mr Odinga out of the way, Ruto would have no more leadership migraine, then we can all sit back and watch his dust. 

It has been from one headache to another. From street demos, court injunctions that threaten to stymie his flagship projects, a growing crescendo of murmurs about corruption and incompetence in Kenya Kwanza, sibling rivalry in the ruling party to the grumbling by hustlers over the tax burden, the President is under siege. But you can give it to him; he doesn’t flinch. 

African leaders are known for their lackadaisical deportment. Africa is a rich continent in both human and natural resources, yet it suffers the humiliation of a beggar because it lacks visionary leaders.

They are simply content with power. Not so Ruto. He is energetic, focused, persuasive and a go-getter. 

He is the modern-day pan-Africanist who can revive the dream of a united Africa mooted by Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda amid opposition from Western powers that stand to benefit from Africa’s disunity by plundering its resources.

That Congo sits on large deposits of gold and other minerals yet is Africa’s basket case after Somalia is an indictment on African leadership.

The African Union Commission chairmanship requires pep, which Raila might not have in big supply due to his advanced age. He has the vision, the drive, and all else, but the energy is waning.

Conversely, Ruto possesses all these attributes and has demonstrated his pan-Africanism in a way that leaves no doubt. His love for travel, bubbling with ideas and ready to share them, makes him the ideal candidate for Africa’s revival.

The African Union, as it stands today, is fangless. It has been ineffectual in tackling crises in Africa’s flashpoints. All it does is come up with harmless, unenforceable and perfunctory declarations. It is in dire need of revival to make an impact, and indeed, a rejuvenated African Union can uplift Africa to a pedestal where other continents would take note. 

Ruto is the man to drive the African Union Commission to greater heights, but to do so, he must relinquish Kenya’s presidency.

It is not a lesser position, but even if it were, John Quincy Adams, the sixth US president, went back to the House of Representatives where he served nine terms until his death in 1848.

What's more, US President William Howard went to serve the Supreme Court of Justice and once said, “I don’t remember that I ever was president.” 

Judging by the chorus of condemnation of his regime and policies; which are the antithesis of citizen expectations based on Kenya Kwanza’s pre-campaign promises, Ruto is losing favour among Kenyans. The opposition, on the other hand, has promised to renew street demos to force his government to lower the cost of living and taxation.

Were Ruto to borrow a leaf from President Richard Nixon of the US, he would have saved himself and this country a lot of headaches. Despite the promise his regime held; ending America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, improving relations with China and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, Richard Nixon threw in the towel midway because of too much negativity around the Watergate scandal.