By Luke Onyekakeyah
The declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the just concluded 2013 presidential election, for me, is a re-enactment of the cherished Kenyatta legacy in Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s founding father and first independence president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. For one of his sons to rise to become president of Kenya shows a strong political legacy of his father.
It is particularly important to note that the new president-elect has not been imposed on Kenyans, nay, by the powers that be; instead, he rose to the enviable position by dint of hard work, arguably, following the footpath of his iconic father. He has been nurtured to occupy the position.
The general peaceful atmosphere throughout the elections is commendable, quite unlike what happened in 2007. While elections in Africa hardly go without recriminations; it is the extent of such violence that marks the election.
Uhuru’s impressive political career (am not forgetting his indictment by the ICC), makes me question what legacy Nigeria’s founding fathers left for their families and the country.
What joy does one have as a great man who has done very well with impressive accomplishments but has nobody to succeed him and perpetuate his ideals? This is where I get crossed when people celebrate some fortunate elderly Nigerians, who benefited and presided over the affairs of this country at the most auspicious time; were in a position to lay a solid foundation for the country’s future but failed woefully.
Today, these elders are living witnesses of the decadence in the country that profited. Some of them bemoan their unwitting contributions to the mess we face today.
Perhaps, with the exception of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whose children have continued to wax strong in Nigeria’s political and social affairs while the region he governed largely remains ahead, there is hardly any other former Nigerian leader, whose children inherited their father’s enviable pedigree.
The result is that at every point in time, Nigeria is ruled by people who have no known political heritage. These people are like hit and run drivers. They lose nothing by plundering the country and plunging it into political and economic morass. They’re not concerned about the future of the country.
The 2013 Kenya presidential election is particularly interesting because it was mainly a battle between the sons of two of Kenya’s founding fathers. While Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, his main challenger, Raila Odinga, is the son of Kenyatta’s first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Another Oginga Odinga’s son, Oburu Odinga is also active in Kenya’s politics. He is Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Finance.
There is a lesson to learn in the rise of a generation of Kenya’s founding fathers. A good leader leaves legacy for his children. It is good for at least one or two of the children to take after him. The application of the ideals of the founding fathers could strengthen political stability and ensure peace.
But those who think that leadership is all about stealing money and amassing wealth should not forget the counsel of Israel’s wise King Solomon who said that, “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished”. Proverbs 13:11. All the wealth gathered are squandered in frivolous living. It doesn’t succeed into the next generation.
The March 4, 2013 elections, which was rescheduled twice in August and December, 2012, was the first to be held under the new constitution adopted in 2010 through a referendum. It was also the first general election to be organized by the newly formed Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC).
The election was meant to elect the president, county governors, senators, members of parliament, civic wards and women county representatives. It was truly a reformed political structure. Therefore, getting it right from the outset was crucial for its survival.
The five political parties contesting were mainly coalitions formed by merged political parties. The coalitions include Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD); Jubilee Alliance; Eagle Alliance and Amani. The Pambazuka Coalition collapsed on December 29, 2012, just three months to the election.
Eight presidential candidates were cleared by the Electoral Commission to contest the election. They were Mohammed Abduba Dida (ARC), a former High Scholl teacher; Raila Odinga (ODM), Prime Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta (TNA), Deputy Prime Minister; Musalia Mudavadi (UDF) Deputy Prime Minister; Martha Karua (NARC-Kenya), MP, Gichugu Constituency; Peter Kenneth (KNC), MP, Gatanga Constituency; James ole Kiyiapi (RBK), former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Paul Muite (Safina), former MP for Kikuyu Constituency. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was not eligible to contest, having served the constitutionally approved two terms.
There was apprehension that the crisis that erupted in 2007 between supporters of Raila Odinga and incumbent President, Mwai Kibaki, after the results were announced might be repeated, but that was never the case. The constitutional reforms may have given the people hope.
Thus, the election was generally peaceful except an incident that occurred on March 4, just before the polls, in which a gang reportedly killed about six police officers in Changamwe, Mombasa and in Kwale County. A separatist group opposed to the election and seeking for a separate country for Kenya’s coastal zone was blamed for the incidents.
The election witnessed a very large turnout of voters. To win, a presidential candidate must win an absolute majority of more than half of all the votes cast as well as win 25 per cent of the votes cast in at least 24 counties. There were 47 counties and 14.3 million registered voters. Where nobody achieved a simple majority in the first round, a run-off election was to be held under the new constitution.
After the polls ended and followed with painstaking vote count, the Electoral Commission, on March 9, declared Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta winner and president-elect after meeting the constitutional minimum.
He garnered 6,173, 433 votes or 50.07 per cent by winning 25 per cent votes in 42 counties. He narrowly escaped a run-off. His closest rival Raila Odinga, garnered 5, 340,546 votes or 43.31 per cent by wining 25 per cent votes in 30 counties. Musalia Mudavadi, trailed far behind with 483, 981 votes or 3.93 per cent won in three counties with 25 per cent votes.
Raila Odinga did not concede defeat but promised to challenge the results at the Supreme Court. He alleged massive fraud and described the election as “tainted”. But it would have been a mark of political maturity for Mr. Odinga to concede in the interest of Kenya’s democracy. Africa must learn to accept election verdict where it is clear that no serious altercations marred the election.
Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory has been received with mixed feelings. First it re-echoes the dominance of the Kikuyu in Kenya politics. Somehow, any political contest between a Kikuyu and any one from the other ethnic groups would most likely favour the Kikuyu because of their large number.
The Kikuyu constitute about 20 per cent of Kenya’s population, which is the highest. They are followed by the Luhya who constitute 14 per cent while the Luo constitute 13 per cent. Owing to the ethnic politics in Africa, votes are cast along ethnic lines. What it means is that candidates with ethnic advantage in terms of numbers stand better chance of winning elections.
This is the main hurdle Mr. Raila Odinga has faced all this while. Being a Luo, which about the third largest ethnic group has always overshadowed his inspiring political career. Mr. Odinga is a political heavyweight. But he faces an uphill task each time he is in the presidential race against a Kikuyu candidate.
Mr. Odinga will have a chance to be president any day he contests without a Kikuyu person in the race. Besides that, he should endeavour to court a strong political coalition with the Kikuyu, whereby he could enter the presidential race with a Kikuyu as his vice. But that again will be an uphill task.
His father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was Vice President to President Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, at Kenya’s independence in 1963. He should put tradeoffs across, otherwise, he may not be able to realize his dream without Kikuyu support.
Of much more concern is the fact that the President-elect, Mr. Kenyatta, is set to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in April over his indictment in the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya that claimed more than 1,000 people and rendered 600,000 other homeless. How the West is going to deal with him is a matter of concern.
The West normally doesn’t deal with ICC indicted leaders. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is a case in point. It is not clear yet how Kenya economy that largely depends on the West’s patronage would survive under its indicted new leader. That may create problems for the country.
Mr. Kenyatta should do everything to cooperate with ICC and ensure that his indictment does not adversely affect his country’s economy.