By Jerry Okungu
November 9, 2011
My friend Raphael Tuju is indeed a presidential candidate in 2012 even though he has yet to declare his party of choice. If anything, I am one of those people who strongly believe that he has a constitutional right to vie for the highest post in the land once his credentials meet the mandatory requirements.
To be a president of Kenya, I suppose one must be a Kenya citizen by birth, above 18 years of age, must possess a college degree, a morally upright citizen and law abiding with no criminal record. Other than these qualities, one must believe in the principle of good governance, the rule of law, ability to respect human rights, a sense of justice for all and be of sound mind.
Tuju possesses all of the above.
However, I’m beginning to get worried about Tuju’s style of launching his campaign. He has started on a combative mode many months ahead of the election season. It would appear that Tuju’s primary mission is to provoke the ODM into doing something stupid so that the electorate and especially the ODM opponents can find something to whip the party with. If I were Raphael Tuju, I would resist the temptation to take on Raila Odinga and ODM especially in Nyanza. That strategy is a non-starter.
Let me state categorically that as a Kenyan, Tuju just like any presidential aspirant should be free to go anywhere in the Republic of Kenya and solicit votes. He should be in Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyeri, Machakos, Meru, Embu, Garissa, Moyale, Narok, Lodwar, Kapenguria, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Kakamega and Mt. Elgon hunting for votes unmolested.
What baffles me is why Raphael Tuju is hell bent on returning to Kisumu this weekend after the violence that he faced just the other day. As I write this article, some of the young hooligans who pelted him with stones are already charged in courts in Kisumu. When such hearings start in earnest, political temperatures will be building up in Kisumu whether we like it or not. Residents will recall that his earlier forays in Kisumu campaigns for whatever faction of government when he was a minister have always ended in chaos and even deaths of innocent people.
It is my considered opinion that if Tuju wants to be president he doesn’t have to campaign in Kisumu. In fact he is better off focusing on other regions and forget Kisumu if the residents of Kisumu are hostile to him. He is better off starting with Siaya, Bondo, Busia, Kakamega, Migori, Homa Bay and Kisii as he plans for Kisumu. He may also need to scout for influential heavy weights in Kisumu to prepare the ground for him rather than adopting a bravado approach in Kisumu politics because that approach is bound to backfire very badly on him.
It is my considered opinion that a presidential aspirant who makes Raila Odinga his manifesto or punching bag will never get Kenyans’ votes. This country has moved on. Kenyans truly need thinkers for president- those who can think outside the box. Politics of bringing down opponents, politics of character assassinations, and politics of disparaging opponents are these days boring to Kenyans.
I don’t want Tuju to go the route of ODM rebel MPs who have spent the better part of the 10th parliament making Raila their political agenda every day of the week for four years yet today they have nothing to show for it. It would be a pity if Tuju fell in the traps of KKK Alliance, the G7 Alliance and the ODM rebels. For four years they have preached the anti-Raila sermon with no converts to show for their efforts four years later. And as they shouted their voices horse, they continued to trail in the polls!
We have other presidential aspirants such as Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Mutava Musyimi and even George Saitoti and Moses Wetangula who have declared their interests in the presidency. They have remained civil. They are not causing commotion in their backyards.
If Raphael Tuju really cares for Kisumu and Nyanza people, he has no business going to that town in the knowledge that there may be riots. Kisumu has suffered enough since 1969. Young people have died senseless deaths related to politics since then, in most cases being shot dead by government security agents guarding government officials. They died under Jomo Kenyatta in 1969. They died in 2005 during the referendum campaign. They died in 2008 during the post election violence. We must say enough is enough.
As a friend I must tell Raphael Tuju the truth. Do not be misled by wrong advisors who have found in you a hero to deal with Raila Odinga this time round. They are leading you in a ditch and once you fall, they will melt away. At your age you have a good chance of being a major player in politics in the next several years. Do not throw that chance away by being dragged into cheap village politics. Go to Nyanza people. Start with Rarieda and ask them to tell you where you went wrong; why they hate you so much. Nyanza people are very political but also very reasonable and forgiving. Initiate positive dialogue and they will listen to you. Choose your advisors well but listen to your inner voice. It is your best advisor.
In politics individual ego can be disastrous. On the other hand humility can be very rewarding.