Monday, February 18, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

It was all over on Monday afternoon! Kibaki and Raila formally closed their campaigns.
As the curtains came down, a few things could not be avoided. The two rallies drew some interesting parallels. Whereas Raila’s rally was more like a carnival, the PNU ceremony was as sobre as sobre could be. It appeared like there was anxiety in the air. Main actors like Beth Mugo and company were pretty subdued! Were these the signs of things to come?

Back in the ODM corner at Nyayo stadium, it was dance and song as usual. More importantly, it was as star studded as usual. We ha d the usual electrifying speakers such as William Ruto, Joe Nyagah, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu, Ida Odinga and finally Raila Amolo Odinga.

Back to the elections proper; in the next three days, Kenyans will know who their next president will be. All indications are that Raila Amolo Odinga will be that man unless all the four opinion pollsters based in Kenya have been lying all along. The other reason that may stop Raila Odinga’s presidency is Kalonzo Musyoka’s miracle if it comes to pass on Judgment Day.

Another reason that may delay Raila’s ascension to power will be if Njenga Karume, the Minister for Defense carries out his threat to invite the military to scuttle the handover as he has promised. But again, that will depend on the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces who is not Njenga Karume agreeing to such an extremity. However, on that front, it would need the express endorsement of the Army Chief of Staff to grant such a dangerous request that will surely plunge the country into turmoil.

Lastly, the most nagging issue of President Kibaki’s plans to rig the elections just don’t go away. Every day, new revelations and discoveries hit the streets, the airwaves and the mobile phone networks. Each episode comes will elaborate plans that include printing parallel ballot papers, tampering with voters’ registers, changing voters voting stations without prior warning or simply recruiting paramilitary forces to disrupt elections in opposition strongholds.

We pray to god that these evil designs do not come to pass because if they do, Kenya will never be the same again.

Barring the above, Raila Amolo Odinga will most likely be sworn in on December 30, 2007 the same day Mwai Kibaki was sworn in exactly five years ago. When he finally takes over, I can see Raila making drastic changes in the structure of the government.

I see him personally taking charge and being extremely sensitive to issues like tribalism, nepotism and cronyism; the three main diseases that have dogged the three presidencies since 1963.

I see Raila forming just about 18 cabinet ministries to be spread among the eight provinces on an equal basis. I can also see Raila avoiding the temptation to give the Lion’s share to his tribe or the tribes represented by his Pentagon members. Under this arrangement, I can only see Rift Valley having four ministries; two from Upper Rift and two from Lower Rift with the rest of the provinces producing a maximum of two cabinet posts.

In Nairobi, Raila will most likely appoint one cabinet minister without ruffling any feathers since most communities do not feel any attachment to the city in terms of ethnicity. .

To compensate communities that will have missed out in full cabinet appointments, Raila is likely to appoint Permanent Secretaries from such communities to avoid a scenario where a cabinet minister, a PS and an assistant minister comes from the same community as is the case now.

In sensitive departments such as the Treasury, the Finance Minister, his deputy, PS and Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, chances of having the four coming from one community will be very slim. If the Governor enjoys security of tenure, he will definitely have a new minister, PS and assistant ministers from different regions.

As it is, political appointments that include State House, Parastatals, Foreign and Armed Forces services do not number more than two thousand. Therefore if Raila has to have a well balanced Public Service in terms of regional and ethnic representation, it will be difficult for ethnic communities to expect more than 50 substantive appointments if we take the 42 tribes as the number to deal with.

Based on this scenario, it would be wise for ethic communities now campaigning for ODM especially Luos, Luhyas, Kalenjins, Somalis, Kambas and Masais to lower their expectations and come to terms with the fact that they must support Raila selflessly without expecting rewards for whatever sacrifices and investments they will have made.

If this government succeeds in bringing about change for the good of the greater Kenya, that will be the reward to those who will have spent sleepless nights planning for this change.