OPINION: Uhuru Kenyatta - Raila Odinga? Who makes the better president?

OPINION: Uhuru Kenyatta - Raila Odinga? Who makes the better president?
President Kenyatta (left) and Raila Odinga

Those who wish to hold power are invariably in pursuit of something very simple – control, influence and authority for themselves. Those who want to hold office understand that it is the office, not the office holder that really matters.

They want to use their limited time at the helm to benefit others. And it isn't difficult to spot the difference between the power-hungry and the office seekers. The likes of Raila Odinga, who are desperate for power, are adept at making grand statements devoid of substance. The likes of Uhuru Kenyatta, who want to use their office for the greater good, offer solutions.

Raila's campaign has so far closely followed the defining characteristic of his career – It has been filled with empty rhetoric. There has been plenty of talk of leading Kenya to the "Promised Land," but little idea of what such a 'paradise' would look like or how he hopes to achieve it. To say that Raila has been thin on detail would be generous. He has promised to bring down the cost of living within 90 days, but has deliberately failed to outline measures towards this. He knows it is laughably unrealistic, but sees nothing wrong in selling a mirage, making a false promise to the Kenyan people. For Raila, anything goes in the pursuit of power.

The only concrete policy which Raila has so far committed to, is to reward his NASA colleagues. Under a Raila government, Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Wetang'ula and Isaac Ruto would all hold high office, satisfying their common thirst for power. No matter that it would most likely require an entirely unnecessary, expensive constitutional change. Nor that it would leave Kenya at the mercy of a dysfunctional government. Once again, anything goes in Raila's pursuit of power.

After all, Raila is a man who has spent many years in power, with little to show for it. He has devoted valuable air time and countless column inches during this campaign criticising the Jubilee government's record. But in the last four years, 2.3 million jobs have been created, compared to just 1.7 million under Raila's Prime Ministerial tenure from 2008-13. And by the same token, 6.2 million Kenyans enjoy health coverage today, compared to 3.8 million during Raila's time in power. Meanwhile, the $1.44 billion in foreign investment in our country today makes a mockery of the Sh163 million achieved by Raila's administration. But Raila isn't one to let inconvenient facts get in the way of naked ambition. He seems to believe that he can bluster his way to State House. If elections were all about hot air, Raila would win.

But we have to hope that they are about much more than that. We have to hope that elections are about a vision and a plan to succeed. We have to hope that they are about a determination to provide solutions to our country's problems. This is exactly what Uhuru has to offer. He has already laid out plans to build one million new homes in the next five years and to work with businesses to provide countless young people with the valuable internships they need as a first step on their career path. This is not just talk. He recently discussed the details of these initiatives with business leaders, ensuring that they are practical, implementable and will have the support required to succeed. In other words, instead of simply telling Kenyans what they want to hear in the hope of siphoning off fresh votes, Uhuru is offering real solutions to real problems.

And this follows the pattern of Uhuru's time in office. During the past four years, he has laid the foundations to take Kenya to another level. 5.95 million Kenyans are now connected to electricity, while almost 10,000 kilometres of roads have been paved or are under construction. And just recently, the opening of the Madaraka Express railway promises to transform our country by offering countless new trading opportunities. In other words, Uhuru has used his time in office wisely, making the systemic changes required for a brighter future. He has overhauled a creaking infrastructure so that it is fit for purpose to drive a modern, middle-income nation. Another term in office would ensure that these achievements make an even greater impact in the everyday lives of even greater numbers of Kenyans. Already, millions have benefitted from free maternal healthcare, from being connected to the electricity grid, from access to the internet. Another four years in office would allow Uhuru to extend these tangible, practical solutions further, and to introduce new answers to everyday challenges.

The alternative is the Raila model of leadership - One fuelled by a self-interest which does not blink at hoodwinking the electorate. Now, more than ever, we must place our faith firmly in a politics which delivers results, which gives us every reason to be optimistic about the future. I vote for solutions, I vote for hope.

Mr Mugolla is a high school teacher in Busia County

bmugolla@gmail.com




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