In the business world, the ability to effectively perform multiple tasks at the same time otherwise referred to as “multi-tasking” or MT is a very desirable quality one to have and often distinguishes the super-achievers from the above average, let alone the mediocre.
Multi-tasking is distinguishable from successfully carrying out one’s assigned tasks in their job descriptions which by definition must be more than multiple but the expectation and general tendency is to have these duties done one at a time, even though most employees think or believe they are multi-tasking at all times.
In politics, the concept does not neatly fit in evaluating performance except when it comes to assessing the performance of the president or leader of a country who in essence is the CEO of the country.
In warfare, multi-tasking takes on a different meaning altogether.
Any military General must always have contingency war plans ready to be executed concurrently and sometimes on many fronts.
In theory, fighting multiple wars at the same time looks good on paper than actually executing the war such that the general who does and emerges victorious in all fronts has his place cut in history and earns their place among the great generals remembered long after the wars they fought are forgotten.
Generals like Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Hannibal Barca and in recent time the controversial George Patton of WWII come to mind.
Before entering the ring to prove his CEO multi-tasking skills, which he and others can plausibly and convincingly argue he has already proven, Prime Minister Raila Odinga must first prove his political warfare skills beyond what he has undoubtedly and unquestionably proven to everyone’s satisfaction.
However, all that he has proven either as CEO or master of politics and strategic survival will be for naught and merely an asterisk in his otherwise illustrious life, if he does not get reelected and sworn as president.
The skillful politician he is, Raila must now put on his Military General hat and fight a war on three fronts he must fight and win before being rewarded with the greatest political prize of all in Kenya and that is the presidency.
The first front Raila must successfully fight, is the mobilizing of a small force in the West by way of the slowly brewing skirmish within his own party and that is Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s declared intention to challenge Raila for the nomination as ODM flag-bearer.
On the surface, this may look as though it’s a minor skirmish or none at all but let no one make no mistake as to believe that’s all there is to it as there is more to this than actually meets the eye.
And therein lurks the danger for Raila and ODM.
To be sure, Mudavadi’s quest is not all about openness and transparency or even democratization of the parties for that matter.
If Mudavadi’s quest were simply a desire to have a healthy debate as to which one of the two gentlemen is better suited to lead the ODM forces to victory, then all those who are pro democratization of our processes would be rooting unreservedly for such a debate.
What is clearly at play are two unmixable condiments and if mixed successfully, the end product would be nothing but toxic concoction for anyone to swallow, let alone Raila and these are: Mudavadi’s quest—genuine or not, to seek ODM nomination on the one hand, and Raila’s enemies quest to use the opportunity to knock out Raila as the leading presidential contender he is while positioning Mudavadi squarely on a seat from which to sink him so fast in the general elections, he wouldn’t know what happened.
Mudavadi is like the employee who hardly ever gets in trouble not because he or she is not conniving or doesn’t do anything wrong, but because he or she is clever in disguising the mischief and when others report him or her to the boss for wrongdoing, the boss is always dismissive of them as haters because he or she has done a good job of having the boss believe he or she cannot do no wrong.
When the boss suddenly finds himself booted or transferred to some remote post in the countryside where he is struggling to even cope with the strange environment and this same employee is now promoted to his or her position, the boss can only but wonder if he or she has not all along been schemed by this clever but ruthlessly calculating understudy.
Invariably, however, the evidence will start trickling in that the boss has, indeed, become the victim of his or her total trust and believe in a person with no intention of reciprocating.
The ones LOL silly in all of these are none other than the very co-workers who the now former boss routinely ignored their warnings this person is up-to no good but that’s not to say the person did not get their on their own merit; they could have and there is nothing wrong with that.
The trick is, knowing when the person is trying to get there by hook or crook and nipping both.
This is akin to a black person trying to decipher whether he or she is being discriminated against because of being black.
Sidney Potier put it best in saying when he got bad service in the restaurant, he always wondered whether it was because of racism or because the waiter is simply lousy and incompetent such that the color of his skin didn’t matter all that much in what service he received.
In that situation, the only thing the black person can do, is go with his or her instincts and not only scream racism the loudest he or she can, but also do something about it in making sure the racist is held to account.
How Raila and ODM manages this “little” Mudavadi issue will either put him closer to reelection and even assure him of it or it’ll cause turbulence dangerously perilous for his journey to State House.
The second front Raila must successfully fight, is purging ODM of his enemies and distractors while at the same time ensuring their exit does not cause the same perilous turbulence on his way to State House.
Although a case can be made that the only enemy within ODM for Raila is Ruto and the handful of MPs allied to him, one can also make a convincing case there are a few stealth enemies within the camp and the sooner Raila identifies these, if he has not already, and neutralizes, purges or at least exposes them, the better.
It is said politics is always full of strange bedfellows and in the ODM context this would constitute those who are openly against Raila as Ruto or and those openly supporting Raila but secretly plotting with outsiders to derail his presidency in the guise of supporting Mudavadi with his quest to challenge Raila as a matter of democracy they know its anything but.
Then there is the mother of all battles Raila must fight and defeat on his way to State House and these are the anti-Raila forces coming at him from all different directions be that PNU, G7 or whatever tribal grouping emerges as the forces to “stop” Raila from being reelected as president.
No politician this writer knows that must face and deal with so many known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns, to borrow from Donald Rumsfeld, the perennial but now former US Secretary of Defence, than our own Raila Amolo Odinga.
However, the one thing Raila has going for him against all these forces he must fight, is he is a tested and proven survivor in many a skirmish, small and great.
He was a frequent guest of Moi in places few have ever been let alone experienced the horror and pain of being there.
He survived not without steeliness, fortitude, agility and discipline—all essentials of a good general in leading men and women to war that must have the same—he lived another day to become instrumental in the final defeat of Moi and his regime.
When Kenyans went to the polls and gave him the nod for the presidency but only to find himself stopped at the gatehouse by Kibaki and Co telling him, “no; not this time!,” Raila went back to the drawing board and emerged with the half loaf he now holds and this was nothing but the application of the above skills and more.
Now, the man also known as “the Enigma” must once again draw from these skills and more to successfully fend off the enemies from all these warfronts and emerge victorious in the collective war and likely last of his political life.
When Jaramogi said of Moi being a giraffe that saw far, not even Moi saw or thought Raila getting to where he is today against all odds as he has and, even though the human nature is for someone in Moi’s shoe to want to exact revenge against Raila for 2002 by rooting for or even backing his enemies, as compared to getting him elected, if Moi is the giraffe Jaramogi credited him to be, he will see that getting this Son of Jaramogi elected president is the wiser of the two and ditto for Kibaki as Raila’s election will bring to a close an end to the old politics of conniving, scheming and outright theft to get elected or maintain office while ushering in a new era of honest politicking—at least to the extent possible and competition of ideas and won’t that be a legacy either of these presidents would want to be forever associated with should that, indeed, come to pass, namely, their helping Raila get elected?
Doing otherwise for either would be no different than putting their stamp of approval on schemes and machinations by those merely ganging up against Raila for no other reason other than they don’t want him reelected president for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not he is qualified or has the leadership skills necessary to govern as president, which should be the only measure by which we should elect our leaders and the sooner we get there, the better for the country.
Otherwise, status quo, continued bad and disjointed governance and wallowing in the politics of stagnation in all fronts it shall be.