Kibaki Like Obasanjo, Kenyans Unlike Nigerians

by SOC Okenwa

Kenya with Nairobi as Capital city is a beautiful tourist country east of Africa. Blessed with an impressive wild-life, flora and fauna and a beautiful tourism landscape Kenya is a destination for millions of tourists the world over. But politics (with its dark African variant) and politicians have conspired lately to imperil the fortunes of a hitherto peaceful nation. The ‘Uhuru’ paradise is being desecrated! Destroyed!

A presidential election was held in Kenya on December 27th in line with her established multi-party democratic principles post-Arap Moi. Daniel Arap Moi, like Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, was a bushman who held the destiny of a nation and people down for two decades through crude manipulative politics of ‘elder statesman’ and hollow patriotism wrapped in a one party system of government.

When he withdrew from the scene after exhausting every trick in the book to stay on, barred by immutable constitutional provisions, to his village a veteran opposition leader who had tried twice to unseat Moi to no avail won power defeating Moi’s anointed successor, Uhuru Kenyatta in a free and fair election. ‘Moicracy’ like ‘Babacracy’ was thus buried as the system was ‘deMoised’ for a fresh new democratic beginning.

Kibaki’s first term in office witnessed some giant strides in economic rejuvenation and the overwhelming enthusiasm and hope in the future. His presidency was characterised for five years by bold steps towards economic recovery and social emancipation though corruption was never tamed. Besides his private marital life witnessed some scandals like his relationship with a woman that had had a child for him and the arrogant First Lady, Lucy, his supposedly second but official wife, whose undignified behaviour sometimes included terrorising the media, slapping journalists and ordering the beating of ordinary people who ‘offended’ her presidential sensibilities.

The leading opposition leader who ran against Kibaki through a political movement called Orange Democratic Movement, Raila Odinga, son of a late veteran Kenyan politician, was leading Kibaki in opinion polls right up to the elections. Every indications pointed to an Odinga victory at the polls in a free and fair contest without the incumbency factor playing a negative role.

The election was held in a relatively peaceful atmosphere with millions of Kenyans going all out to make an electoral statement deciding who they prefered among the lot seeking their consent to govern them. But as results were being announced the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) Chairman Samuel Kavuitu like Maurice Iwu of Nigeria‘s INEC suddenly stopped the announcement of tabulated results which gave hint of a Raila predicted victory.

When the electoral body head came back to finish his job of declaring the victor and the vanquished he surprisingly gave victory to the vanquished declaring Kibaki winner (after taking a break to be briefed presidentially). Kibaki, desperate for a second term but aware of his defeat, was sworn in minutes after the final declaration by ECK. Ever since then the streets of Nairobi and other cities, towns and villages have not known peace. Violence has been unleashed on the society by those who felt cheated. Odinga has refused to trade away his victory at the polls describing Kibaki as an “electoral robber”.

What pricks the conscience as one watches the spectre of violence in Kenya is why and how an old man in his late seventies should be party to an elaborate electoral scam that could destroy a nation? Why is Kibaki not tired at his age? Like Obasanjo who should have been ruling Nigeria if the third term gambit of his had sailed through in the NASS Kibaki has skeletons in his cupboard which he is afraid might be exposed the very moment he quits power. Like Obasanjo Kibaki has proved again that in Africa sometimes old age does not confer wisdom, patriotism and statesmanship on some old men especially politicians.

It criminally boggles the mind how and why indecent old-breed politicians in Africa, greedy and sleazy, could seek to destroy the bright democratic future of a mobile vibrant young generation. From Nigeria to Cameroun, Gabon to Zimbabwe, and now Kenya these shameless grandfathers, immersed in absolute power which corrupts absolutely, tried and still try to deny an idea whose time has come.

Nigeria has passed through this ugly gory road to which Kenya is destructively headed before. In 1993 under one bloody General Ibrahim Babangida Nigerians went to the polls to elect the late billionaire-philanthropist MKO Abiola as our President to provide hope and guarantee the future. But in a jiffy IBB annulled the June 12 election for no just cause citing unsubstantiated kindergarten reasons. Thousands of our compatriots lost their lives in the Abiola saga. In 1999 and 2003 Olusegun Obasanjo and the anti-democratic crooks that arranged power for him rigged elections in order to instal him and renew a bogus mandate.

And in April 2007 former President Obasanjo and his man friday Maurice Iwu organized the very worst election in Africa handing questionable victories to the favoured ones and leaving the real winners at the mercy of tribunals and appeal courts. The docility of Nigerians in April may be blamed on mass poverty and apathy. Challenged daily by common things as electricity, bad roads, lack of water and fake drugs majority of our people pray to God and hope that things can only get better someday, somehow.

In the ensuing carnage in Kenya Kenyans have so far demonstrated that they are unlike Nigerians in seeking that their votes count. When one saw some young Kenyans declare on TV that even in the event of Raila Odinga buckling to international pressure they would continue the struggle as it is one beyond the Orange party candidate. Unlike Nigerians Kenyans are standing up for democracy and the military dogs and police are killing them. In one demonstration of frustration the demonstrators touched a church in which over thirty people were refuged!

The political activism of Kenyans unlike Nigerians reminded one of how Ivorians achieved a great feat in the year 2000 when the late General Robert Guei who confiscated power in the new year eve of 1999 sought to fool all the people. The then veteran incorruptible opposition leader who contested the presidential election against the murdered General and now President Laurent Gbagbo successfully demystified the military and the gun as he used mass appeal to cut the General to democratic size.

The ultimate essence of any democracy resides in the ballot. Whenever the people’s votes are counted but disallowed to count things could get nasty and violent. Like the civilian dictator in Yaounde is presently doing Camerounian President Paul Biya has engaged the civil society and stakeholders in his bid to alter the constitution clearing the way for him to seek another term in office. Like Olusegun Obasanjo the third term bug has bitten Biya and the Camerounian political landscape can never be the same with the constitutional amendment succeeding or failing like in Nigeria.

The present political crisis in Kenya can only be resolved if the international community recognise the fact that President Mwai Kibaki has stolen the new mandate he now wields. It is inappropriate calling for sharing of power or establishment of a government of national unity. As Raila Odinga has contended how could you steal a thing and try to play generosity with the owner of the stuff you have stolen?

The way forward lies in returning the stolen mandate to its real beneficiary. That is giving back to Raila Odinga what rightly belongs to him. Kibaki must concede defeat and allow peace to reign. Kenyans like Nigerians deserve some respect from their illegitimate leaders.

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