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Author Archives: Samuel N. Omwenga

About Samuel N. Omwenga

I am originally and ultimately from Kenya. Upon graduation from Rutgers, the State University School of Law, Newark, I embarked on a private legal career as an attorney at my own firm and after more than 10 years of active practice in the Washington, DC area, I moved on to international business consulting assisting business people and investors interested or doing business in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. I enjoy reading and writing--or more precisely, blogging and when time allows, I like taking my family out on nature excursions. My Pet Peeve: Things that move slowly without a good reason.

Correcting Misconception About BBI and Its Status

BBI_Bomas(3)

It has been fascinating to see the reactions from even some Kenyans I thought were following this BBI launch more closely and the ignorance or lack of correct information they have demonstrated in their various comments.

One common error I am noticing even from people I would think know better–at least in social media is the belief and people acting as if the BBI report is a done deal only waiting to be voted up in parliament to become law.

Reality is, we’re far from BBI becoming law.

First, there are several proposals in the report that need not even parliament action to implement as the president can effect those changes or new policies utilizing current executive powers.

Second, there are several provisions or proposals in the report that would require parliamentary action and the president’s assent to become law under the normal law making process and those will be handled and proceed accordingly.

However, when it comes to restructuring the government as proposed in the BBI report, that requires a referendum, not just a vote in parliament.

Article 255 of the Constitution provides as follows:

(1) A proposed amendment to this Constitution shall be enacted in accordance with Article 256 or 257, and approved in accordance with clause (2) by a referendum, if the amendment relates to any of the following matters–

(a) the supremacy of this Constitution; (b) the territory of Kenya; (c) the sovereignty of the people; (d) the national values and principles of governance referred to in Article 10 (2) (a) to (d); (e) the Bill of Rights; (f) the term of office of the President; (g) the independence of the Judiciary and the commissions and independent offices to which Chapter Fifteen applies; (h) the functions of Parliament; (i) the objects, principles and structure of devolved government; or (j) the provisions of this Chapter.

Changing the Constitution via the parliament option requires a referendum if the change “relates to” any of the topics listed in Article 255(1) (see above). Although many of these topics are not relevant in this context, meaning, pursuing BBI implementation via a referendum, one or two can no doubt be argued to be relevant.

For example, an argument can be made that changing the democratic system and how the head of government is elected “relates to” democracy — a national value. A change “related to” a national value needs a referendum therefore.

Although I can see a legal case or scenario where a referendum can be avoided to still put into effect what BBI proposes, that would require some serious juggling of the pieces and things lining up so perfectly it’s safe to say the better route under current circumstances, is to put into effect those changes via a referendum.

To get there, the constitution lays out what needs to happen next, which can be a people initiated referendum, or one initiated by parliament. I can’t say for sure as things stand today which direction Uhuru and Raila will go with this; if the objections raised thus far by some in opposition camp can be accommodated and have a referendum bill passed by 2/3 of both houses, then IEBC will conduct a referendum within 90 days of passage for a yes or no public vote on the bill.

If there are not enough votes in Parliament to initiate the bill as modified to make BBI better, then the only other route will be a popular initiative signed by at least one million registered voters and the rest will go as per the rules established in the constitution, much as we had the 2010 passage and promulgation of the new constitution.

So, those celebrating that BBI is in as is you better hold off your horses you may be in for a big surprise when it’s all said and done, BBI won’t be what you think or assume it is.

Conversely, those not too happy with BBI as proposed, especially on the question of government structure, you, too, hold your horses for if there are changes to be made in the proposed structure, I doubt they’ll go all the way to a pure parliamentary system Raila and others said they prefer.

In fact, I can state categorically without any fear of contradiction a pure parliamentary system will NOT be proposed, let alone pass a referendum vote, even if proposed.

Rather, we’ll have more refining and redefining of the hybrid parliamentary/presidential system currently proposed in the BBI report to make the presidency not as dominant or as imperialistic as proposed while giving the Prime Minister office some autonomy and independence, answerable only to the people through their representatives in parliament.

The president can perform perfunctory duties relative to the appointment of the PM but that should be about it.

All that being said, and unfortunately so, how we move forward from here all depends on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s goodwill and those closest to him, working or at least making sure the handshake objectives are intact and remain firm throughout the process. That happens, we have a new Kenya for sure.

It doesn’t, well the same old ugliness, hatred and division shall continue.

As a progressive, I can only hope and pray for the former and am fairly optimistic that’s what we have in the offing going by what has transpired thus far.

God help us!

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2019 in Politics

 

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BBI is Made Public; Now What? Part II

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Uhuru, Raila and Ruto at Bomas to launch BBI implementation

The delay in launching BBI Report has had the precise effect Uhuru and Raila had in mind, given the hostility the report faced even before those running their mouths against it knew what was in it. That’s the very definition of madness or the height of stupidity but that’s neither here nor there.

What’s here is we now have the report and, as usual, only but a few of us have actually read the full document and know what’s in it while the vast majority, including those busy commenting about it have NOT read the document, or even parts of it choosing instead to regurgitate what they’re hearing from those aligned with them (meaning their tribal leaders and talking heads) but not much in terms of their original thinking.

This is a curse not just in Kenyan politics but virtually every country and why it’s hopeless and a mis-normer to talk about “people driven” politics when these “people” are nothing but blind followers of their usually tribal leaders and they would never see anything good for them or their country if it hit their faces but will always buy hook, line and sinker what their tribal and ethnic politicians they blindly follow tell them.

One of the netters I regularly engage for the sake of others said this in response to my earlier exchange with him:

One thing I cannot take away from you is hope. I don’t want to give my opinion because I will be attacked by supporters of nanii. In my opinion, this BBI will do little in changing the voting system. Yani, nothing has changed. It will be as if BBI was not there. It oy helped politicians get more carrots to dangle.

My response:

Your’e not God to give or take away hope so leave that line of thought out of this and let’s engage strictly on politics.

It’s not true, of course, that BBI changes nothing unless you wish to continue to live in denial. Reestablishing the PM position, shifting more resources to counties (though not reducing them as some of us urged), reconstituting IEBC and getting rid of the rot there are all consequential changes but one thing that remains stable and this is ALL that matters, is the system is intact to protect Uhuru’s interests, less so Raila’s and Ruto as an afterthought, if at all.

Someone only a few people would know or recognize but nonetheless very influential in his own right sent me a message on WhatsApp and we find ourselves in agreement as to the nature of what’s unfolding and how it should continue to unfold even though he’s–not exactly a Raila hater but let’s just say one who doesn’t like him.

Our view is if Moraa is content with power sharing deals at the top without caring whether her interests are catered to, then it’s pointless to waste time catering to her let’s all cater to the interests at the top and hope there emerges a leader or two who someday will look to Moraa’s interests.

Meaning, the focus now is BBI full implementation and sealing deals for power sharing through elections which shall be a formality and that’s not a bad thing either.

You can continue with your tribal arithmetic all you can all I am saying is that’s not my focus, never has been and never will.

However, getting to understand and know how 2022 (2021) will be predetermined and enabling that is my focus and am happy to be involved in that regard.

That was my point from earlier.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Politics

 

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BBI Is Made Public; Now What? Part I

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Uhuru, Raila and Ruto at Bomas to launch BBI implementation

I will share my oped this weekend what my thoughts are about BBI, which should be no secret to those who have followed what I have penned previously on this subject. For now, I thought I share here what I have elsewhere in Kenya social media for those who haven’t seen it for what it’s worth.

https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2019-11-27-ruto-raila-on-the-side-of-peace-back-bbi/

This is precisely one of the options I posited in my weekend column and must say it’s a step in the right direction with the outcome being a way being found to accommodate Raila and Ruto in the next government.

I note with sadness voters won’t be a factor in that equation as at least presidential elections will continue to be predetermined, even after full BBI implementation. In sum, BBI with its flaws is the best we have next to nothing but old status quo.

The new status quo has some opportunities to tilt the trajectory of the country toward the right direction and that’s a good thing so, reluctantly, it’s thumbs up to full BBI implementation.

However, I am also laughing because out of ignorance, the very voters who continue to be rendered irrelevant and shafted in the sharing of political power are cheering on the craftmanship of Uhuru, Raila and Ruto whose personal interests are well taken care of while those of Moraa are largely ignored.

It’s something to laugh at but deeply saddening as well this level of ignorance and how many more decades before people–yes, including those educated beyond high school to see how their understanding of politics and government is constrained by both ignorance and seeing things from a tribal prism which shall always be limiting and rendering them not a free people.

Rather, keeping them as slaves of the politicians who exploit their ignorance to get what they (the politicians) want and not what’s good for them.

I said BBI should never have been about Uhuru, Raila or Ruto because I and others were pushing for certain reforms we now need not because of the ignorance alluded to above but will now push and champion this to be Ururu/Raila and Ruto affair.

The next government will feature all 3 men and prominently so, which means they’ll be the ones laughing last as the ignorant tribalist voter is once again left with an empty bag.

A netter responded:

Can you explain how the BBI will lead to a different voting pattern? How will the three (Uhuru will only feature in campaigns) be accommodated except with the loser becoming the official leader of the opposition?

Other than post of PM which will go to the majority party, are the cabinet posts still limited to 22? The fight will initial be on the running mate so that will influence the voting pattern. I think also smaller parties will try to fight it out hoping to be incorporated in the Govt on a post election coalition.

My response:

No I will not explain that. My point is 2022 will be determined in 2021 with full implementation of BBI. Indeed, the correct year for elections is 2021 and that will be tackled soon but be as it may, the presidential elections will be predetermined and that’s the good news in this for it won’t be Raila or his supporters who’ll be the victim.

Uhuru continues to mature and perfect the game of politics in Kenya when it’s all said and done, he will be way ahead of his father, Moi and Kibaki combined.

Thoroughly enjoying this.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Politics

 

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Baba Congratulates Amran Okoth, So Do We

Raila and Okoth

ODM leader Raila Odinga has congratulated Imran Okoth for being elected as Kibra MP and, of course, we all join in congratulating Okoth.

Congratulations to Baba, too, for pulling this one off as the never stopping to even breath political enemies and naysayers were ready to declare him politically finished were Okoth to somehow not be the declared winner.

Indeed, it is sweet victory and how befitting that Baba has dashed the hopes of those who have been scheming and plotting to defeat and embarrass him!

That being said, it’s not lost on us this was victory at a major skirmish but even bigger battle rages ahead in BBI implementation and, of course, 2022, which shall be the crowning of all Raila victories.

The mother of all victories, that is.

And we’re here to help the president and you achieve this objective and by “we” I mean the majority of Kenyans that believe in the handshake and ultimate implementation of BBI and are ready to do their part in making sure that happens.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2019 in Politics

 

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Panic Among Some In Central As Population Shrinks and Thus Reducing Political Clout and Dominance

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The Former Central Province Counties

In Shifting Census Numbers To Upset Political Ground the Standard reports on a trend emerging such that the former Central province will no longer have the so-called tyranny of numbers. This trend has caused panic among many but, as I posit below, it shouldn’t worry the rest of us for the reasons I also posit here.

It’s always fascinating to me how Kenya politics mirror US in so many way, including this one: guess who’s in the panic and we’re already seeing the effect here in the US? Yes, white people! This is because it’s predicted they will be in the minority by 2050!

WE are going to be the majority, meaning us non-whites!! However, it’s more accurate to say only racist whites and like minded are bothered by this, namely, caucasians no longer being in the majority, the rest of non-whites are not because they don’t believe in the white supremacy nonsense.

Rather, they believe and hold as true the universal belief among good people we’re all equal in the eyes of God.

Same thing in Kenya; we never used to hear or think about this panic in the former Central province until now when politicians (not the people) from the region have realized the region is shrinking in numbers so they’re are all gang-ho to defeat BBI mistakenly believing that’s the only way to preserve their dominance of politics and presidential elections.

Fortunately, a good portion of the political leadership, starting from the president himself has moved past this tribal thinking and wants us all to have a one Kenya where neither tribe nor negative ethnicity has any place in controling our politics and sharing of national resources, just as most whites in America don’t care and are unconcerned that some day they will be in the minority for they believe racism should play no role in American politics–and that goes both ways.

In other words, whites cannot suddenly become the objects of racism simply because their numeric numbers are reduced to a minority.

The color of our skin or tribal alienage should not and must not dictate who we are and what we believe is right for all of us a nation.

I have read the above linked article carefully and have seen a couple of nuggets in it I’ll develop and pen a future column, which has to do with something we already know and are counting on as part of the existing strategy to implement BBI.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2019 in Politics

 

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Bringing Tribalism Down and Other Takes on Uhuru and Raila Efforts to Bring Central Aboard BBI Train

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Uhuru (l) and Raila (r) at a past event

Like racism in America, tribalism will always be with us in Kenya; it’s just how it impacts elections that we’re focused as a laser to cut back significantly and I am confident this time around we’ll be where America was in 2008 when they elected a black man in the country’s history–and probably the only one for quite sometime to come because white domination is real, even among non-racists.

In the same vein, 2022 will see a non-Kikuyu, non-Kalenjin elected as president and the odds on that are Raila.

The election of Raila but this time being sworn as president will crush tribalism but permanently so in our case–but that’s not to say it’ll still not simmer and perhaps re-emerge down the road, much as racism has started to rear its ugly head in America thanks to its chief enablers in the high office.

That being said, let me address your specific false allegation you have made in your post:

[I am in this blog responding to the same netter I usually engage and respond to because he raises arguments, phony as they maybe at times, that others would raise and so my decision to post them here for a wider audience than where they initially appear]

You say, “Problem with your team is that you assume Uhuru will support Raila and that  Kikuyus will be united in supporting whatever Uhuru tells them.

False in your second part, but true in the first part. We know hatred of Raila in some parts of Central is deep and is going to take some heavy lifting on the part of Uhuru to bring a good segment of it to Raila column.

The rest, we’re not writing off but strategically speaking we know we can exclude them in factoring the equations for where we’ll need to be in terms of 50%+1.

Remember, Raila has won at least 2 times, or at least once if you exclude 2013 which no one won but he did so with less than 15% of the vote from Central.

So, the only task ahead is for Uhuru to deliver a respectable portion of the Central electorate and we’re good to go.

That we know he’ll do and you can take that to the bank and cash it, if you care to. I know you don’t as you’d rather stick with what you believe, which is fine.

To be fair, given our country’s history with political deal, I would admit I was one who was urging caution in  wholly embracing the handshake because I believed it could be a trap for Raila.

I created a 5-box matrix scale to measure the authenticity and viability of the handshake and as previously blogged, 3 of those items have thus far checked out with 2 remaining which depend on each other.

One happens, we’re home.

That’s what I am watching for and sooner than later it shall come to pass as to what the entry would be, one way or the other.

The converse, of course, is also possible, which means not exactly a loss or even toss-up as to prospects, but advantage Raila.

You say, “Kikuyu can vote for Raila but it will take more than UK.” Wrong. This assertion is simply a version of disrespect for Uhuru but I am happy to say he’ll shock you all.

The worst competitor in any game, is one disrespected for he or she will teach you a lesson when you least expected and busy counting chickens before they hatch, which is basically your leader is doing ditto the rest of Tangatanga, ati Uhuru hatawashinda.

You’ll all see.

You say, “He must bring everybody on board and work on providing evidence that he will do better than Ruto.” I assume by “He,” you mean Raila but that obviously ignores the fact BOTH Uhuru and Raila are ALREADY working to bring everyone on board and NO, they don’t need to make the case why Raila will be better than Ruto for it is enough we don’t need another Kalenjin president as of mothers from the rest of the communities that sire children haven’t sired a child to be president besides the two communities.

That, folks, is what’s at the core of this and the reason we have the handshake and BBI to implement it.

Let’s not fool ourselves, or pretend that it is not.

You say, “Right now only Mwangi Paul is in ODM and yet I keep on hearing that Kikuyus will vote for ODM.”

Again, you’re looking at things from a tribal prism and what I’ll keep telling you and others is we’re moving the country past that. Many of us have always been there, but we now bring the rest of the country; or at least, a good majority of the country where who you vote for doesn’t count on what tribe you belong.

As a Kisii, I am proud my community as is the case with a few others has always divided its vote and not blindly voting as a black as is the case with many other tribes and this is the model we must apply for the rest of the country.

To be sure, and the reason I am specifically saying I am Kisii, is no one is as naïve as to suggest that we abandon our heritage for the sake of eradicating tribalism; far from it.

We can end tribalism while at the same time preserving our heritages and ethnicity, which is exactly what the handshake and BBI are designed to do.

That being said, the elections of 202 (or 2021) will be won not by ODM, or Jubilee or whatever; rather, the elections will be won by the spirit and a new alliance in the making. That’s all that matters, not individuals, or individual parties.

You can stick with your belief “No Kikuyu will vote for ODM” all you wish, and to that all I can tell you we know even in the past, more than 10% of Kikuyus voted for Raila (CORD and NASA) against all odds so you can’t come from there to ZERO Kikuyus not voting for Raila. That will be going backwards and that we ain’t doing, not when we have the handshake and BBI.

You say, “Also, Kalonzo needs to be courted for Kamba to support Raila again.” Let me just say Raila knows how to get votes and will not be needing advise from you or anyone else besides his team on how to do that.

You say, “ODM peed on their votes when they grabbed all political funds and forgot that Raila got those votes from them too.” This is just a false allegation or ill-informed at best.

No need to go into the weeds on this but let me just inform you and others that ODM has not “grabbed” political funds.

NASA never set a formula to share political funds by its constituent members so each member must look to funds as provided under the Political Parties Act, which gives ODM the upper hand in deciding on how the funds will be shared.

That process is ongoing and no decision has been made to that effect but that doesn’t mean that ODM has “grabbed” the funds.

In due time, the matter will be resolved and I am sure it’s part of ongoing negotiations for new alliances.

You say, “Raila is a very short sighted politician.” False.

You cannot find a more far-seeing politician alive in Kenya today than one Raila Amolo Odinga.

Like father, like son.

Someone once said of Jaramogi he was like a giraffe as he saw far.

Raila has followed suit and not surprisingly so.

You say, “He only thinks only of today does not look at the future.” Again, FALSE.

Read again what I have just said above.

You say, “He has done to MM, Weta, Kalonzo and others what he did to Ruto in 2008.

And what is that?

You say, “Very good, excellent wasting votes.” It’ll be redundant to say false, so, let me just say not true.

At all.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2019 in Politics

 

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The Venerable Charles Njonjo’s Gift to Uhuru in 2002 and Its Historic Meaning Then and Now

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Always humbled to know former AG Charles Njonjo or “Sir Charles” as he’s iconically referred to is one of those notables who follow and read my blog or column.

Indeed, some many years ago when I started penning the column, I was informed by the Star the former AG’s personal office staff had made an inquiry in his behalf as to my contact information and noted he was interested in meeting with yours truly.

Although he thought I was in Kenya, he was informed I am based in the US and in time, a meeting was arranged and I met him in Nairobi on my next trip there.

From first lunch meeting at Nairobi Club and others that would follow since, all I can say is the man is every bit the iconic and historic figure we have always known him to be. It is an honor and privilege to know him I just hope he would have agreed for yours truly to pen his memoirs but this is something he has resisted over the decades and it’s doubtful he would change his mind about it now.

When you hear the expression “if walls can talk,” well, this is one “wall” if it talks we would know a whole lot more about the Jomo Kenyatta and early Moi era than we now know and will completely come to understand why things happened the way they did.

We will also come to more fully understand why Mzee Njonjo decided to support Raila in his presidential quest against Uhuru’s bid.

Kenyans.co.ke tells a story about a symbolic gift Njonjo gave to Uhuru back in 2002 when Uhuru was trying to be president for the first time, in-experienced as he was and virtually against everyone’s expectation other than Moi who was fronting him.

According to the story, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s close aide Duncan Ndegwa, in his memoir Walking in Kenyatta’s Struggle, narrated that on the day that the embattled Uhuru was commemorating the 24th anniversary of his father’s demise during the 2002 presidential campaign, Kenyatta’s trusted aide Charles Njonjo came to him with an unlikely gift.

It was a cap Kenyatta senior used to wear matching Jaramogi’s in the early years of their friendship but took it off and never to wear it again after the acrimonious fall-out between the two.

Ndegwa stated that there was a general surprise amongst some individuals present at the commemoration who were old enough to recognize the cap since it had not been seen in public for 36 straight years since Kenyatta had taken it off.

The reason for why Njonjo gave Uhuru the cap, it is believed, was a call it was time to build bridges between Uhuru and then rebel Raila Odinga to rekindle the relationship that their fathers had and lost.

That never really happened back then (2002) but it has certainly happened and still happening now following the handshake that took place on March 9, 2018.

We appreciate people like Sir Charles Njonjo from Central Kenya who have long known, and others will soon know the only way forward with a one and united Kenya, is to bury the past woes and open a new book of togetherness and love for one another as brothers and sisters, all equal under the eyes of God.

This is what the handshake is all about and ditto BBI which is intended to implement the vision behind the handshake and in tandem with what Sir Charles and like minded also had in mind those many years ago.

It’s befitting that this vision comes to fruition in their lifetime, even as the future generation reaps the benefit.

 

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2019 in Politics, Uncategorized

 

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