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Heavily indebted Kibaki spoilt for choice of heir

TRAVEL
By | February 9th 2012

By Okech kendo

Until James Orengo petitioned President Kibaki to return a favour, many may have overlooked the fact the MP for Othaya is indebted to many politicians eyeing the throne.

Each of the creditors, either in person, or through their allies, is expecting the President to settle pending accounts. As the incumbent, the creditors believe Kibaki can persuade some of his supporters to back his preferred successor. Even goodwill will be good enough morale-booster for the presidential aspirant who catches the President’s eye.

Those who would welcome a Kibaki endorsee would do so believing a man who has been in public service for 50 years cannot mislead the electorate into backing a mule for a horse. Not when the incumbent puts the national interest ahead of vested considerations.

In the US, endorsement is serious business associated with integrity, morality, ideology, and continuity of legacy. Endorsement is a succession issue that runs through presidential tenure, with the heir-apparent being prepared for greater responsibilities.

After President Abdulaye Wade failed to have his son succeed him, he asked courts to award him the right to self-succession. Senegal is on fire because the 85-year-old leader is working for self-preservation.

Being one debtor, President Kibaki may be genuinely lost for choice on which loan account to settle before he leaves State House. The President may also believe he may have honoured some debts, even though the creditors still expect the Sagana-bound retiree to pay back in kind.

The way Orengo put the plea for a good turn sounded like it was intended to make the President appear guilty. He was reminding Kibaki his retirement would not be restful if he did not settle his debts.

The quid pro quo logic – scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours – has many variants in local languages. Orengo’s rudisha mkono sounded more like rusha mkono, which would be Asante ya punda ni mateke, or hitting a creditor below the belt.

Huge difference

The Orengo statement came with village imagery to show the magnitude of Kibaki’s indebtedness. In Kisumu, where Kibaki was last week, rudisha mkono means duok luedo or return a hand.

The petitioner believed Kibaki got a helping hand in 2002, and now the President needs to pay back. Orengo was telling the President the hand that gave during the 2002 presidential election is ready to receive during the 20120 General Election.

Orengo had one creditor in mind though when he pleaded with President Kibaki to understand it is payback time. In 2002, it was Raila Odinga, now Kibaki’s ‘co-president’, who is officially the Prime Minister, who declared Kibaki Tosha! The Uhuru Park declaration made a huge difference to Candidate Kibaki who had twice flopped the race to State House.

The Raila endorsement of Kibaki rested Uhuru Kenyatta’s drive for president. Then incumbent President Moi had placed presidential ambition on the scion of the founding president, Jomo Kenyatta. Raila stole Uhuru’s chance, and handed it over to Kibaki. With Uhuru and Kibaki sharing the central Kenya vote, the rest of the country overwhelmingly elected Kibaki to spite ‘Project Uhuru’.

The latest talk of the President’s indebtedness first came from Lari MP David Njuguna, during a political rally in Nyanza, hours after the President opened the refurbished Kisumu International Airport last week.

Now, debt collector Njuguna is in trouble for reminding Kibaki of his indebtedness to Raila. In so doing, the MP forgot Uhuru allies also expect Kibaki to rudisha mkono for the Gatundu South MP. Uhuru sacrificed his presidential ambition in 2007 to support Kibaki. Uhuru abandoned his office as Leader of the Official Opposition to support the incumbent.

The surrender placed the central Kenya vote in one basket for Kibaki. In turn the Kanu MP was appointed Minister for Trade and Deputy Prime Minister. Until the International Criminal Court sabotaged his presidential ambition, Uhuru was one of two Deputy PMs and Minister for Finance. The double-docket was a reward that placed Uhuru ahead of the competition in Kibaki’s corner of the coalition. But Uhuru and his allies expect more now that Kibaki is retiring. Having been close to power for far too so long, they do not want to let go.

Then there is Kalonzo Musyoka who arrived at Kibaki’s doorstep during the President’s darkest hour in the January of 2008, when Kenya was burning and blood was flowing.

42-member Cabinet

Tagging along with 16 ODM-Kenya MPs from the 2007 parliamentary election, Kalonzo helped Kibaki’s PNU to defy post-election violence to form a partial government. This Government later grew into the current 42-member Cabinet Grand Coalition.

The man from Tseikuru also expects Kibaki to rudisha mkono, over and above being VP and Minister for Home Affairs. He has been reaping where he did not sow.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti also ranks among Kibaki’s creditors. He, too, expects a good turn from a man whose campaign he part-funded in 2002 and 2007. With many creditors knocking, Kibaki has to be bold enough to respect the national interest. If he decides to sit on the fence he should stay there day and night to spare some of his creditors the tragedy of the mongoose.

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