BY KEN OUKO
Whenever presented with an opportunity, I have always rubbed in the fact that Emilio Mwai Kibaki is a master of the political game. What makes his political intellect even more daunting is the fact that the majority of Kenyans still want to believe that our President is more of a technocrat than a politician.
Yet, I always ask, how can that be true of a man who has been riding the political boat since he was 29 years of age and is still sitting pretty at the age of 70-plus?
Listen to the streetwise Kenyan and all you hear is how our Prime Minister is the quintessential politician. To his ardent followers, anything \’Agwambo\’ says or does, however tactless is a strategy and a scheme.
Well, this time, it would appear that the chickens are trooping back to the rooster. Mwai Kibaki has obviously and openly checkmated Raila Odinga and for good measure, added his own Vice President as collateral damage. Unless to the unconverted, it is so obvious to see that the President\’s latest antics have left both Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka with such smelly egg on their faces.
It was Sir Winston Churchill the erstwhile British Prime Minister who once sounded the ominous warning that we must forever remain vigilant and wary of "those who fight with a grin on their faces". It is my humble submission that Mwai Kibaki fits this bill perfectly; the calculating fighter who throws well aimed and lethal punches but all the while maintains a discerning grin on his face even as his opponent bleeds miserably.
The Mwai Kibaki of this moment is like the pervert in the crowded lift who pulls down a female passenger\’s mini skirt leaving her thoroughly embarrassed but all the while wearing that \’it couldn\’t be me\’ smiley face! The hopelessly embarrassed lady instead directs her wrath at the Railas of this world; the mean looking lift passenger who looks guilty as charged yet is the lift passenger who wants to reach his destination with the noblest of intentions.
As things stand today, the groggiest loser is Raila Odinga. The Prime Minister who has always been a deft punch-thrower now finds himself in very unfamiliar waters where he has to defend himself and justify his place in the matrix of fighters who still have a chance to win the fight.
Raila is evidently squirming in his seat. He is increasingly looking like the matador who has lost control of his prize bull and is standing exposed as the errant bull comes charging straight back at him. How he escapes being fatally gorged depends on how quick-witted his subsequent actions are.
From what we are witnessing, only the ardent followers who are forever mesmerized by hero-cultism still shout from the rooftops about Raila being in control of his (and their) destiny.
From his role as a mediator to his leadership of the ODM party on to his supposedly equal partnership role in the governance of Kenya, Raila Odinga is wallowing in frustration bordering on failure.
Were it not that the PM is such an astute schemer, many would have written him off as a goner. From the constellation of Kenyan politicians, Raila Odinga has always stood out as the penultimate survivor of survivors.
He has previously wiggled out of apparently hopeless political quagmires with admirable skill. The difference this time is that Raila finds himself dealing with one Emilio Mwai Kibaki, a man he has always underrated to his own unfolding.
To the objective observer, it is now crystal clear that the love-hate relationship of convenience that binds the two principals together has always been of bigger benefit to Mr Kibaki than it has been to Raila Odinga.
All through the life of the coalition cohabitate arrangement, Raila has always struggled to show that he is as with it as his counterpart. On the contrary, the President has seemingly had an easy time shafting Raila and making him look like the gatecrasher that the Kofi Annan deal depicted him to be.
As we write the history of this coalition government, it would be rather deceptive were we not to enter it into record that President Mwai Kibaki has had a rather unrepentant joyride, leaving Raila to break the brow of political and economic sweat.
Thus far, what has struck me as most amazing about the coalition partnership is how the PNU operatives always train their ammo sights on the Prime Minister and openly show defiance almost to the point of contempt as they unapologetically invoke his name at every press conference. Sometimes, the PNUists discuss Raila as if he were some mid-level politician, leaving me to wonder aloud, why the disrespect?
In fact the single most absorbing question in my mind these days revolves around the possible reasons why the ODM politicians never pour similarly high-octane vitriol at President Mwai Kibaki.
Isn\’t it just amazing considering that the ODM brigade consists of those voices more strident and way more eloquent than those of the PNUists? Why pray, is this so considering that the ODM brigade never wastes an opportunity to sensitize Kenyans about how their supremo is not a junior partner in this coalition arrangement?
Why then do they let the heavily accented Kiunjuris of this world tear the PM apart so disrespectfully? Why for example, would they let their leader sweat out on the podium responding to or chiding the Kalonzos and the Rutos of this world when they could keep them grounded at their level?
Kenyans of intellect and reason, help me out here? What is going on? Is Raila Odinga a one man show?