In response to my joining others in calling for at least the suspension of Prof. Ongeri as Minister of Education, pending a full and complete investigation as to who stole Ksh. 4.2 billion from his ministry, a blogger from the Rift Valley agreed with my position but went on to insist Raila must still be blamed for Ongeri not being removed as minister—never mind he and others holding this view are the very same ones who were shouting the loudest that Raila had no authority to suspend or fire a minister, when he actually suspended Ongeri and Ruto when the money was initially discovered missing, only to be reversed by Kibaki.
The following is my response to the blogger:
We meet again. Good thing this time we at least have something in common. At this rate, we might end up agreeing on everything; well, almost everything important in the end, and that’s a good thing.
I do say this with a caveat I must and am willing to substitute my bifocals for a magnifying glass as I search through your postings to find something I’ll agree with you, but will do so with great pleasure.
Not surprisingly, I knew there was a “but” coming, even as I read your opening sentence agreeing with my position on Ongeri and surely it did in what you say right after that.
Not surprisingly either, I disagree with your “buts” (no pun intended) as follows:
You say, “Raila will not escape blame either.”
Sure; why should he. The man gets blamed for anything and everything, good or bad, even as in this Ongeri case where he took the correct and only right action, only to be reversed by Kibaki!
You say, “[Raila] seems to be toothless and he has in fact surrendered the running of the coalition government to Kibaki who with all due respect has failed miserably to crack the whip.”
I actually agree with you to this extent: but for Kibaki’s henchmen, led by Muthaura, being so bent on frustrating Raila and doing everything they can to make sure he does not succeed as PM, the country would be already enjoying more of the fruits of his work ethic, vision and leadership more than we are and more so the reason he should be re-elected president in order to deliver on his promise of a new Kenya.
You say, “[Raila should have put his foot down and [made] it known to Kibaki why he had taken the steps he took.”
Two things: First, Raila did not have to tell Kibaki why he had undertaken the action he did in suspending Ongeri; the two co-equal leaders are briefed and have access to the same information. I know Kibaki gets the rap that he is hands off and has no clue what’s going on most of the time, but I beg to differ; he does, he just chooses to ignore the things he doesn’t care to be involved in but he is very hands-on on things he deeply cares about and it’s for this reason I am always giving him the benefit of doubt and hope or urge him to do the right thing. In any case, even if one is so cynical as to say Kibaki is aloof, I am pretty sure Raila discussed with him the suspension and would even dare postulate Mzee told him to go ahead and show his friend the door, but was prevailed upon by others to reverse himself and Raila at the same time.
Imagine you are the principle and a teacher recommends that a student you happen to know and like be suspended for serious wrong doing; yet his parents and their friends, your life long and trusted friends as well, strongly urge you not to: who do you listen to and do as they wish, knowing the decision to suspend or not to suspend is yours only–and by you, I here mean generic, not you, you?
That’s akin to the choice I think Kibaki faced and to some extent, still faces: do what the professional recommends is the right thing and at least suspend Ongeri, or protect him as he and the president’s own friends are urging him to do.
Second, if by “putting his foot down” you mean Raila should have insisted on some action against Ongeri beyond what he did and has done, my speculation is Raila may have figured it’s only a matter of time before he got vindicated and with the mounting pressure for something to be done finally about Ongeri, it may indeed be just a matter of time for that to happen.
Raila could have also put his foot down and insist on rescission of Kibaki’s swearing in in 2008, having strongly believed as he did, and had a majority of the country behind him in agreeing that he won the elections, but opted to compromise for the sake of peace and country.
These are but qualities of a good leader.
You say, “By keeping [quiet], he in fact came out weaker!!”
Perhaps so to the feeble observer, but not to an astute one for, sometimes, a good leader lets the inevitable happen and basks in the glory of vindication, except even better leaders like Raila see that as just one more task successfully accomplished in the never ending tasks of a good leader like him and nothing to bask in glory about for it’s the country that’s ultimately the winner in a case like this, namely, if pressure mounts to accomplish the same thing the PM wanted from the beginning, and that is, suspension of Ongeri pending investigations of the theft in his ministry under his watch, and holding responsible those found culpable.
You say, “and this [not continuing to publicly challenge Kibaki for reversing him] gave rise to the believe that Raila is just a PM on paper!!
Two things here: If Raila has been reduced to PM on paper by not challenging Kibaki more, even at the risk of getting the country into another crisis, why is he being blamed for everything that is not right with the government, while his enemies and real culprits are given the pass?
BTW, you do have a point and I appreciate your recognition as such, namely, reducing Raila to PM on paper only, has been the wish and an active campaign by many, especially those with the highest stakes in the succession game but, not uncharacteristically, he has thus far carefully and methodically rebuffed every single one of them and should ultimately succeed much to the benefit of the country, not just him.
In sum my brother, given you have found some room to agree, and given as I note above there is more we are yet to agree on, inch upon as it may be, my offer to you is, I’ll have you on my list of guests for a victory party I will host if, God willing, Raila wins the presidency on condition you’ll reciprocate, if your candidate of choice, wins?