Wednesday, June 11, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

Sometimes I wonder whether this is the kind of job Raila Odinga expected when he accepted to be Kenya’s second Prime Minister. Perhaps there are too many intrigues clouding the effective operations of the Prime Minister, very much unlike when Jomo Kenyatta assumed that office 45 years ago.

As an observer, I fear that if this trend continues, Raila Odinga will end up fighting fires from all corners of the republic, achieving nothing in the end and getting blamed for everything.

If I were Raila Odinga, I would not get entangled in age old football politics, Mungiki menace, Mau Forest environmental saga, land problems in Rift Valley, a dispute with back benchers over whether to have a grand opposition or not and whether to release election violence suspects or not. These matters are too much for a single individual to handle even with the best of intentions.

As Prime Minister in charge coordinating and supervising government ministries and departments, his job should just be that; to coordinate and supervise. In this job description, there should be inserted proper delegation to respective ministers who should find out how to deal with their respective problems and report the same to the Prime Minister for action.

As much as Raila Odinga loves football, he has no business getting embroiled in football politics because that is where insanity lives. Because of this insanity, many governments over the years have dissolved the Kenya Federation of Football a hundred times in fifty years. They never found a lasting solution to the disease.

Let the football nuisance be handled by the Sports Minister to the best of her ability. If she fails to manage the eternally corrupt fraternity, let her report to the Prime Minister, get her efforts discussed at the cabinet meeting and a collective decision taken.

In my opinion, disbanding KFF permanently would not be a bad idea even if it irks FIFA. In fact FIFA banning Kenya from participating in international tournaments for two decades could end up being a blessing in disguise. It would save us from perennial embarrassment for having teams that never win a single match. The other will be to give us time to weed off the bad old managers and train younger players!

As for the Mungiki sect; this is a national security issue whose origins and initial promoters are still in the cabinet. Let this be the full responsibility of the Internal Security Minister who should give the Prime Minister and the President Progress report on his efforts. If the cabinet decides to open talks with them along the lines of Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni; so be it.

The Prime Minister should similarly handle land, environment and other sensitive matters through respective ministers. He should be the last resort when his ministers fail to find a solution. Being on the frontline will cheapen the office of the Prime Minster because there are some in the cabinet that will just be too happy to either contradict him or celebrate if his efforts tumble.

On the internally displaced Kenyans in Rift Valley, there are the ministries of Special Programmes, Internal Security and Defense to deal with them.

If there are any talks of releasing the youths that are languishing in police custody for having demonstrated violently in the post poll violence, these matters need serious backroom negotiations.

Borrowing a leaf from Charles Njonjo on how he used to deal with mass University student arrests in the 1970s may come in handy. Amos Wako should be at the forefront in dealing with these cases rather than sitting on the fence as Cabinet Ministers grope in the dark.

Finally, Prime Minister Raila Odinga should desist from engaging back-benchers on the controversial grand opposition coalition. This is a matter that can be handled by the government spokesman and other MPs detailed by the Prime Minister and the President. There are some ministers and assistant ministers that can easily engage the MPs in meaningful debate rather than the PM taking it upon him to confront the MPs, some of whom will just be too happy to bring down the PM.

Remember the days of David Mwenje and Kuria Kanyingi, when Moi could use them to derail the political careers of Vice President Josephat Karanja and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Charles Njonjo?

In Kenyan politics, there will always be charlatans ready to do the dirty work at the behest of their masters.