Listening to Prime Minister Raila Odinga accuse senior officials from the Office of the President of rigging the forthcoming general elections, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is that it’s more of the vintage Raila doing what he does best – creating confusion and wild claims with a view to precipitating civil strife. For indeed to expect Raila to thrive in a peaceful environment is akin to asking fish to swim on dry land.
Yet this time round I see in Raila’s claims a man who has sensed crushing defeat at the polls. He has good reasons to do so. There is a saying among some African communities that when the monkey’s final hour beckons, all the trees in the forest suddenly become slippery. The monkey cannot hold on to any tree without falling onto the ground.
To use the football analogy for which the Prime Minister is acknowledged as an unrivalled professor, the game is in the last minute of extra time. The final whistle has gone off and we have to decide this on penalty kicks. Raila tries his first penalty kick of reformers versus non-reformers. Result: Miss.
He moves forward to take the second kick known as creating a divide between the rich and poor. He shoots very wide when Kenyans remind him that he is part of the problem not the solution. He then takes the third penalty labelled promises of the future. The ball hits the woodwork when very informed voters tell him that he is only incumbent of the Grand Coalition who is running for the presidency and that he has had five years to prove that he can deliver on anything but, alas, his scorecard is dismal.
Raila Odinga then gathers all the strength and skill he can amass to take the fourth penalty. This penalty he calls it ‘The Land Question’. It is meant to be a killer blow that will incite Kenyans on the emotive issue of land. This one volleys high into the air as Kenyans wonder why Raila whose ODM party holds James Orengo’s land portfolio over the last five years could not solve the land problem in Kenya.
By this time, star player Raila is left with only one penalty to take. He chooses what he thought would be the sure score, the International Criminal Court. This time he slips and falls before he could even take the penalty. He could not believe that both the ICC and the Kenyan judiciary have given a clean bill of health for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to vie in the elections. Having missed all the five penalties, Raila desperately resorts to claims of rigging, much like the ones from Arsenal fans when they lose to Manchester United in a match officiated by Howard Webb.
Even as the Prime Minister prepares to go home after losing in the elections to be held in a fortnight, it is imperative for us as a country to honour Raila with a befitting role post-defeat. The Prime Minister is not a bad man. He has done some few good things for this country. Yes, he has done many bad things as well but I believe that every angel has a past and every sinner a future. We Africans are known all over the world as having lots of what Korean Airlines erroneously referred to as ‘primitive energy’ in an advertisement.
No one personifies this more than the Prime Minister. It would be sad, therefore, to consign the Prime Minister to baking mandazi in Kibera as he once requested himself. That is why I am floating five ways we could honour the Prime Minister once he loses on the 4th of March.
First, I think we should create a semi-autonomous government agency (SAGA) to deal conclusively with the irritant that is the water hyacinth in Lake Victoria. Doubtlessly, this is an issue that is of utmost concern not only for Kenya but also for the entire Great Lakes region. Raila could be asked to head that agency.
Second, with the demise of Muammar Gaddafi, the lofty dream of the United States of Africa appears to have missed a driver. This role for Raila appears to be exactly what the doctor ordered for.
Third, it is a fact that climate change continues to cause concern for the global population. Whereas the West and countries like China and Japan appear to have taken major strides in combating climate change, Africa has not even opened the first chapter in this regard. Raila Odinga should be tasked to use his post-defeat years domesticating the Kyoto Accord to the African context. Time is running out on this.
Fourth, with new trouble flashpoints emerging every day, from Syria to Mali, from Tunisia to Yemen, it is not very wise to expect that Kofi Annan can shoulder the shuttle diplomacy role alone. He needs an able assistant who has the energy and ample time but who also enjoys the pleasures that come with extensive foreign travel. If an interview was held for this role, no one can hold a candle to our own Raila Odinga.
Finally ladies and gentlemen, by the year 2050 it is estimated that 80 percent of Africa’s population will be residing in urban areas. This will exert unforeseen pressures on our cities. If left unchecked, slum areas will develop to be major social and economic challenges for the newly urbanizing Africa. It will be necessary for the United Nations to create a specialised unit that will handle the problem of slums in Africa. I see the Prime Minister fitting perfectly into such a role given his experience, the lack of tangible results notwithstanding, in leading Kibera for the last 21 years.
A society that does not honour its heroes has no place in the civilized world. Even as the voters prepare to hand Raila Odinga massive defeat in the next fourteen days, it is incumbent upon us as a country to honour him with a fitting post-defeat role. Defeat should not be an excuse for humiliation.
(Kuria is a strategist for the Jubilee Alliance).