by Ayodele Adio
While Raila Odinga was delivering a speech on Friday, 13th of October, at the Chatham House (UK) two young men in his hometown, Bondo, were shot dead. They had been part of a large crowd who confronted police officers outside a police station protesting the October 26 election rerun. Lest we forget, 37 people needlessly lost their lives in the post-election violence which broke out in August after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner. What would it take for young Africans to learn that their lives are not worth the ambitions of greedy and desperate politicians?
Raila Odinga for me is one of such desperate politicians whose ambition has led to hundreds of young Kenyans needlessly losing their lives. In 2007, after losing the presidential election to Uhuru Kenyatta, 1300 Kenyans were left dead in a nationwide ethnic violence, with over 600,000 displaced. Imprisoned for staging a coup in 1982, 72-year old Odinga has gone on to run for the presidency, unsuccessfully, four times.
Yet, he seems unrelenting.
In his speech at the Chatham house, Raila Odinga echoed his new catchphrase, “no reforms, no election”, which is spreading like wildfire amongst his core base and loyal supporters. He argues that except the electoral body is reformed, he will not be participating in the rerun elections. This decision by Odinga not to run has raised serious concerns of a full-blown political crises possibly dwarfing what Kenyans experienced in 2007. Efforts to get Odinga to see the larger picture has proved abortive, he is even unmoved that the country is spending an extra 12 billion Kenyan shillings on the rerun election that should have gone into public education or infrastructure. He simply wants reforms.
To be fair, Odinga does have a point on matters regarding electoral reforms. Even though western and international election observers saw no evidence of centralized manipulation, the Kenyan supreme court ordered a rerun of the elections, pointing at procedural failures and lack of transparency thereby rendering the results invalid. It is, of course, unsurprising, that Raila Odinga is demanding the replacements of suppliers of equipment used to transmit election results and the replacement of electoral officials who he claimed was complicit in electoral fraud. However, and there lies the worry of the international community, does the blood of the innocent have to be split for these demands to be met? Should the future of young Kenyans be abruptly terminated to accommodate the demands of a 72-year-old political elite, whose family name has been associated with the country since it gained independence?
It would be foolish for Kenyans to allow the ambition of a single politician reverse the tremendous gains they have made since the last election violence 10 years ago. Kenya is today the largest economy in East Africa and the fourth in sub-Saharan Africa, only behind Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. It remains a top destination for tourism in Africa and is highly regarded for its technological innovations. As Diarietou Gaye, world bank country director for Kenya, recently opined, “once again, economic growth in Kenya is solid in 2016 coming in at an estimated 5.9%, a five year high. This has been supported by a stable macroeconomic environment, a rebound in tourism, strong remittance inflow and an ambitious public investment drive”.
Dear Kenyans, remember that when thousands lost their lives and homes for Odinga, not a member of his immediate family lost as much a siesta. Raila Odinga can make his demands, he has a legitimate right to, but his demands are not worth your lives or the future of Kenya. Be wise!!!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija