How NASA messed itself up right from the beginning

After suffering a humiliating defeat by Jubilee in the August 8 elections, the National Super Alliance (NASA) was given another chance by the Supreme Court to redeem itself and put up a fresh fight against the ruling party. But the Opposition started messing itself up immediately after the Supreme Court ruling that nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win.

First, instead of putting their house in order and preparing for the fresh election after seriously celebrating the judgment, NASA leaders, led by their general Raila Odinga, decided to go for the wrong target, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

In the mean their opponent, the dynamic duo of President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, hit the ground running, moving from one county to the next to convince the voters to confirm within 60 days that they had won fair and square.

It appeared NASA knew right from the beginning that they could not win this election because they had no numbers. They therefore saw no need to campaign, but only tried unsuccessfully to justify why the Supreme Court nullified the election they knew they had lost.

Secondly, came the defections by ardent NASA leaders to the Jubilee fold. Even Raila’s own lieutenants were now convinced that their general was not interested in the real battle, but in unsustainable propaganda. Raila’s own point men, who had been loyal to him for a long time, started trooping to the winning side in their droves, from the Coast, to South Rift to Western regions. After all, everyone loves the winning team, right?

Even though NASA sympathisers insisted the defectors were election losers who would not sway any support for Jubilee and its able leader Uhuru Kenyatta, they certainly forgot one important thing; that politics is about perception. The perception created was that the opposition alliance was fast weakening and there was no need to waste time and resources supporting it. And that perception was enough to win the President more votes in the opposition strongholds to further strengthen his win.

Then NASA drove the last nail into its coffin by Raila withdrawing from the race. The thinking within NASA must have been that Raila’s withdrawal would mean President Kenyatta would have no candidate and the election would be called off and a new date set within 90 days, just as the opposition wanted.

But this was a failed calculation and an effort in futility. Just about 24 hours after Raila withdrew from the race, the High Court ruled that Ekuru Aukot and other candidates in August 8 presidential race be included in the fresh election. Suddenly, Uhuru had six other competitors and Raila’s strategy fell flat, once again.

The opposition now had no ground and moral authority to call for fresh presidential nominations. And in a bid to recover from the poor strategy of withdrawing from the poll, they resorted to a boycott campaign and using intimidation and threats of violence to dissuade their supporters from taking part in the election. Their demonstrations turned violent and destructive, not caring about the property and lives of hardworking Kenyans.

While NASA leaders were busy plotting how to fail, their Jubilee counterparts maintained the course, not allowing themselves to be distracted by sideshows. President Kenyatta and DP Ruto moved with zeal and energy from one county to the next, telling Kenyans that they had a right to vote for whoever they support. They kept their eyes on the ball to the very end and it paid off.

Now with more than seven million votes that the President has garnered in the repeat election, it is clear beyond any doubt that he had won the August 8 poll. Even the legitimacy issue, which was the opposition’s last weapon against the government, has now terribly failed. NASA now cannot claim Uhuru’s government is illegitimate because Kenyans have professed their love for the President and his deputy through the ballot.

The opposition has now resorted to lawlessness and further anarchy after failing to get power by constitutional means. The so-called resistance movement and NASA’s planned civil disobedience is as low as it could get. The government must therefore stand strong on its feet and deal firmly and lawfully with the Opposition whose only interest is to disturb the peace in the country.

(Korere is the MP for Laikipia North MP)

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