I am sometimes accused by some of being a “die-hard Railaist” but I think those who say so mean I am a die-hard Kenyan because that’s who I am first and foremost. I love our country and want the best for it and my strong and passionate support for Raila in his presidential bid is part of that because I strongly believe he has earned and has the vision and drive needed to fix many of the maladies in our country and put it on the right track forward.
I do not support Raila blindly as a “die-hard Railaist” which is what those who lob that charge basically intend to convey; rather, I support Raila because, after studying his leadership qualities and style and having observed the man in how he applies those qualities and skills, and further given his vision for the country, as compared to all who have expressed interest in the presidency, Raila is the right person to take over the presidency in our country at this time in our history and even more importantly he has a better chance above all others running for the office of not only leading but uniting the country after what we have gone through.
This is why I strongly and passionately support the Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga for President 2012.
I speak with authority on Raila’s qualities and electability as president because I was once his most avid critic prior to the elections of 2002 when those who know me know I was supporting Hon. Simeon Nyachae and his then presidential bid.
I therefore have an excellent vantage point to view the pros and cons of Raila as any who has been in my position can be.
For example, I will admit when I was on the other side of Raila, half of my railings against him were simply based on false propaganda that I unwittingly accepted and regurgitated without digesting and I see the same thing all over with Raila’s current critics and opponents here and on the ground. These avid critics have bought hook, line and sinker all the garbage, propaganda, lies and distortions from those bent on “blocking” Raila from becoming president as their one and only main agenda other than preserving corruption and impunity.
But it’s not too late for these critics to really come to grips and understand who this man Raila is and his ability to thrive against all odds. Raila is a rare politician and this is something many a folk in Kenya don’t realize or understand.
For my part, my coming to grips and understanding who Raila really is happened a long time ago but rapidly.
When Raila declared at Uhuru Park “Kibaki Tosha” everyone including yours truly knew everything was over for all other candidates save for some kind of serious miracle.
I soon thereafter took the time to understand Raila and what he stands for and came to realize the man is indeed an enigma in Kenyan politics as the title of his biography by Boladefi Badejo aptly captures.
In sum, having subjected Raila to scrutiny before as his critic and knowing everything there is to possibly know now about the man and his character, I and most observers have concluded he is the right person to lead our country from this point on, his critics notwithstanding.
I can go on and detail several other reasons backing up this conclusion but no time for that so let me highlight just one that I thinks captures the essence of all reasons why Raila is the man for the presidency this time around:
In 2007, the objective was to have Raila elected as a transition president, meaning he was to transition the country from the old to the new, in every respect, including ushering in a new constitution.
Although he was elected on this and other grounds, he was not sworn as president for obvious reasons.
Yet, even with his one hand tied in the back, Raila has managed to deliver on some of his campaign promises, chief among this being his working closely with President Kibaki to have the new constitution passed, saving the Mau forest, and most recently, forcing Kibaki to rescind his inappropriate and unconstitutional appointment of pivotal constitutional officers which led to the clean, lawful and unprecedented nomination today of Dr. Willy Mutunga as Chief Justice with lawyer Nancy Baraza, his deputy, an outcome all Kenyans must surely be proud of.
Much of Raila’s vision, however, remains unimplemented because he is obviously not president and what he does as Prime Minister is so hampered and circumscribed it is virtually impossible for him to implement the vision; he is doing the best but reality is the forces of impunity and status quo have thus far succeeded in thwarting a number of his efforts but being the fighter he is, he continues to fight own to the end.
In other words, because Raila was not sworn as president and given the vision he still has for the country, 2012 is basically 2007 all over for him–obviously cast in light of PEV and all that has happened since and even with all that, the country should and ought to give him the opportunity she gave him but was denied by others to do what he said he wanted to do for the county if elected president in 2007 that has not been done but needs to be done with his providing the guidance and leadership.
Yes, we went through an ugly period of time after the last general elections but every cloud has a silver ling and if all of us Kenyans have not learnt to forgive and love one another and value and respect our diverse ethnic and tribe affiliations, then that’s sad indeed but in terms of where we go from here, unifying the country has to be at the top of the list and there is no one better suited for this than Raila.
This is so because Raila has suffered and endured personally in his fight for reform but has since forgiven and even worked with those responsible for his suffering, including our former president himself.
Indeed, when Raila joined Moi and merged NDP with KANU in 1998, I was one of his harshest critics for that move as I could not understand how one could possibly break bread with his tormentor and antagonist. I thought RAO was abandoning his principles and what he suffered for but I should have known then what I do now that is, Raila is a visionary and very forgiving and certainly not a vindictive man; he is clearly a man on a mission and God sent I believe.
I have elsewhere on my other blogs noted how I thought before coming to America that Oloitiptip coined the maxim “If you can’t beat them, you join them” because I first heard that expression from him but this concept would become ever so clear to me when Raila’s joining Moi and KANU was explained to me to be an effort to reach an end objective he had sought all along and that is freeing the country from the yoke of corruption, impunity and general backward retrogression in progress and if that meant working with his tormentors, so be it.
When Moi pulled a fast one on him and his party by reneging on his (Moi’s) agreement to at least allow a fair and democratic selection process for a KANU candidate for president and instead dictated that candidate to be UK, Raila rightly walked out of KANU and his declaration of “Kibaki Tosha” not only sunk Moi and his UK project, it paved the way for the third generation transformation of the country underway.
All in all, these are just but some of the examples of how his experiences have shaped him as a leader and a better one at that; he is the same visionary Raila today and if he has changed in any way, it is for the better to the extent he has learned you cannot take anything for granted in politics, especially knowing you can win an election but not get sworn as president or that the very friends dining at your table today will tomorrow call you some of the nastiest names and wish for your downfall or will otherwise bite you several times in the back, and more.
I submit to you Raila will be a better candidate in 2012 than he was in 2007 for all these reasons and in spite of what happened post 07 precisely because dealing with all that as he has had to in response has made him a better leader.
Given as a whole the mission upon which Raila embarked to seek the change in the country going back to the 80s remains intact and given much of what he campaigned on in 2007 remain largely unaccomplished through no fault of his, Raila will make the case and I and others are confident the country will give him the opportunity to finally deliver on his mission and vision.
The honor and privilege to be so elected would surely be worth the struggles, suffering and calamities the man has met along the way.
Peace, Love and Unity.
Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq.