Opinion / Commentaries
Sunday, 30 Oct 2016 14:47 EAT
CORD leader Raila Odinga was supposed to be the chief guest as Kisumu County received the Devolution Torch. The Torch, which has been going around the 47 counties as part of a programme by the Council of Governors to highlight the succcess of devolution, was handed to Governor Jack Ranguma by his Meru counterpart Peter Munya. Mr Odinga, however, snubbed the event, and for very good reasons.
First, the symbolism of Devolution Torch had been watered down by the leadership of Kisumu. While the governors conceived the Torch as a noble event meant for residents to assess, celebrate, appreciate, critique and take stock of the achievements of county governments over the last four years, Governor Ranguma turned the Kisumu event into a political show to launch his re-election bid. The governor and his handlers had plotted to use Raila’s presence as an endorsement giving them an opportunity to rubber stamp their authority thereafter. As it happened, Governor Ranguma used the event to assert himself as the only leader in Kisumu who can move Kisumu forward.
Secondly, branding county government vehicles using Raila’s image together with the governor's without seeking the consent of the former prime minister was wrong; that act was tantamount to setting him against the people of Kisumu and giving Jubilee mandarins fodder to feed on knowing very well how corrupt the Kisumu county government is. The intention of Governor Ranguma’s anti- Raila cabal was to use the branded vehicles to pick him from the airport, take him around town before finally going to the venue of the event.
The tender for the branding of the vehicles is being questioned for its inflated price. The tender was first awarded to one company but later issued to a different firm. In short, they wanted to drag Raila’s name into a known county scandal, the intention was to sanitize Ranguma’s leadership as Jubilee hit on Raila for being involved in the abuse and misuse of county resources. It should be remembered that Mama Ida was recently invited to grace the launch of a Sh17.5 million dairy project which turned out to be scandalous. Raila presciently snubbed that event too.
Raila has been part of government, he has done great things for this country and he knows that a transformative servant of the people doesn’t have to abuse county property to flaunt minute achievements. He knows that if a leader has a legacy it will definitely speak for itself instead of being forced down the throats of people.
If Governor Ranguma wanted his leadership trumpet to be blown then it should have come from the people of Kisumu County not himself. His decision to brand county vehicles to showcase his meager achievements is a testimony he is well aware he hasn’t done much to attract people’s attention. Even President Uhuru who is the king of PR in Kenya has never branded a single government vehicle to showcase his pathetic track record. Devolution wasn’t meant to create small gods in counties; it was meant to enhance equalization through servant leadership.
Lastly, Raila is abreast with the challenges facing Kisumu people, their concerns and their broad take on Governor Ranguma’s leadership. He knows that Governor Ranguma's performance has been below the expectation of many people, and his snubbing the event was a conscious decision he knew would resonate with a majority of the residents. He used his foreknowledge to make a popular decision.
Ironically, the former PM's decision turned out to be most unpalatable to Ranguma’s cabal, some of whom were heard throwing tantrums and cursing the decision in public. As usual, some leaders were blamed for misadvising Raila but the same people apportioning blame wanted to use him to achieve their selfish agenda. They thought they had managed to convince Raila to their slaughter house only for them to end up with egg on their faces.
To save themselves from the glaring and inevitable embarrassment, the organizers rushed to Tom Mboya Labour College, pleaded with Mama Ida Odinga to grace their event together with other guests who were attending the ODM Women’s Convention. ODM Chairman John Mbadi and Executive Director Oduor Ongwen were among the guests attending the ODM event. Kisumu deserves better.
The writer is an environmentalist and YALI EA alumni