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President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta – A suave political juggernaut

During the clamour for a multiparty polit- ical system in the early 90s, while every politician was crowding the political space with demonstrations and other acts of civil disobedience, the young

Uhuru Kenyatta, in his usual civil way, made a bold contribution to then President Daniel Moi. Uhuru Kenyatta, alongside the late Peter Mboya, Francis Michuki, Argwings Kodhek and Alfred Getonga, told Moi that Kenyans were yearning for a multi-party system and this is the bear minimum that was need- ed and no amount of reforms within KANU could pacify the people’s will.

At the time, many young politicians were blindly affiliating to KANU, with the delusion that syco- phancy was the currency that appealed to President Moi. The future leader of a new Kenya was born. In this bold, Uhuru demonstrated that in times of politi- cal pressure, decisive and honest reasoning, executed

boldly yet respectful way, triumphs over cheap sycophancy, a currency very popular with Kenya leaders. In equal measure, Uhuru displayed his mettle as a natural and at the same time, a national leader. The rest is history.

President Moi, who is referred to as a giraffe that sees from far, would see in Uhuru, a young man who pos- sessed the ability to voice diverging views respectfully and stand by his convictions, something that is rare in the Kenyan political landscape, where allegiances shift with personal fortunes, mainly a loss in elections. Then, Uhuru needed nothing from Moi, only a secure, prosperous and peaceful Kenya.

With the advent of multi-par- tyism in 1991, Moi would start in earnest to groom Uhuru, as his most

probable successor. In the corporate governance landscape, one would call this succession planning. To the naïve, it was a project. Uhuru’s polit- ical mien would continue to play out in the open. When he lost in the first election, Uhuru did not defect. He had a stint as the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board, before re-joining politics as a nominated MP and later a charming Minister for Local Government. From this vantage position, Uhuru would build a formidable political network across the country.

In 2002, the then miscon- ceived anti-Moi political euphoria led to Uhuru’s loss to Mwai Kibaki I his first Presidential Race. Uncharacteristic of many politicians of African extraction, Uhuru would concede defeat and work honourably for Kenyans as the leader of the oppo- sition. Uhuru would later team up with Raila Odinga and others under the Orange Democratic Movement, to scuttle what he believed was a botched Constitution in the 2005 referendum. Uhuru’s stint in the Orange Movement is another feather in his cap, a man whose decisions are made for the national good, not mere personal political gains. Uhuru, despite being the leader of the oppo- sition, would seat out the 2007 Presidential elections, to support Mwai Kibaki’s re-election, in order to give the Kibaki’s Administration an opportunity to underpin and sustain the tempo of the economic gains. Although some saw their own things, Uhuru saw the gains for

Kenya, while bidding his time, another pointer to national leader not greedy for power as an end.

Enough examples over time  on political savviness. Turn to President Uhuru’s respect for Constitutionalism and the rule of law. As a sitting President, with all the trappings of power, President Uhuru Kenyatta presented himself to the International Criminal Court, over trumped up charges, mostly by some people who would later cosy up to him. Recently, history repeat- ed itself when President Kenyatta subjected himself to the Supreme Court Ruling, that denied him a well deserved first round win in the 2017 general elections.

 

On the economic development front, President Uhuru has managed to stamp some indelible achievement in the country, despite having lost a lot of ground early in his administra- tion, dealing with the ICC. The com- pletion of the first phase of the SGR, the last mile electricity connection to rural Kenya homes and the free secondary education, among other projects, will forever be etched in the minds of millions of Kenyans, whose living standards have been impacted. The last mile electricity con- nectivity to rural Kenya, including schools is a major milestone to many students who can now study and do their homework at home, with- out subjecting the eyes to the tox

ins associated with kerosene lamps, for example. These students now stand a chance to compete with their colleagues in the urban areas. The availability of electricity in the rural areas also open up opportunities for small businesses as well as access to internet connectivity, improving the economy of the rural folks.

We all remember President Clinton’s visit to Kenya. In addition to free primary education, the Uhuru administration has effected in record time, free secondary education. This translates to one hundred percent transition of our children from pri- mary to secondary schools. The net result is an educated populace in addition to adding the intellectual capacity of the Kenyan people. The transition at no cost also gives our teenagers an additional four years in the school system, instead of wasting themselves at very tender age. These are monumental achievements that need tremendous courage in a leader to implement. Such is the courage that President Uhuru has displayed within his first five years at the helm of the country’s political leadership. In the next five years, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vision include revamping industrial growth through value adding and agro-based manufacturing, universal access to quality healthcare, access to quality and affordable housing and non-rain fed agriculture to boost food production not only for Kenya’s consumption, but also for export. To deliver this, the President continues to build structures and systems that will exe- cute the four priority areas, with an effective and efficient use of resourc- es. Through these four pillars and other government projects and ini- tiatives, President Uhuru Kenyatta expects to unlock opportunities for wealth and job creation for mil- lions of our unemployed youths and women, the two groups that form the bedrock of our future workforce.

On the political front, it is the vision of President Uhuru Kenyatta to help build a cohesive and united country. The first step saw the merg- ing of several political parties to form the election behe- moth that is the Jubilee Party, which has members through- out Kenya. Uhuru’s vision is that those who do not agree with the Jubilee manifesto, can also unite and form a sec- ond major party and in elec- tions, Kenyans should start having a choice of either, as opposed to the previous situations where the country voters had to contend with more than 300 registered parties. This is visionary.

The end of this short narrative about the pedigree of President Uhuru Kenyatta, is the introduction of direct flights to the U.S. The President pro- vided both the vision and the leadership to achieve this great feat. Despite the emergence of China as a significant world power, influence in Washington remains the import- ant. Direct U.S. flights help strengthen Kenya’s standing in Washington and opens up new oppor- tunities in tourism, trade and investment.

The era of African strongmen, majority of who ascended to power during times of war and upheavals, is coming to an end. A new crop of leaders who are con- cerned about democracy

and economic development, in line with the UN Sustainable goals, to improve the social and economic living standards of the people, is emerging. Kenya’s own President Uhuru Kenyatta takes the centre stage of this new crop of states- men in Africa-leading the change and reclaiming the rightful place for Africa in the global arena.