Kenya and Nigeria have little in common. Like Nigeria, Kenya is an English-speaking country where English is generally spoken. Like Nigeria, the East African country is an economic “superpower” like Nigeria in West Africa. Like Nigeria, Kenya has experienced political and social unrest and bloodshed throughout its checkered national history. As in Nigeria, ethno-religious politics are often shamefully used by corrupt politicians to divide and dominate the people. Unlike Nigeria, however, Kenya has enjoyed some relative political stability after independence. Despite political violence rearing its ugly head according to controversial presidential poll results, the country has never seen a military coup – much like Senegal, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, etc.
Kenya had organized general elections (sometimes controversial like Nigeria), but the highly independent judicial system had played a critically important role in settling the disputes that saved the lives and sanity of the community. The Supreme Court in Kenya has proven time and time again that it can be relied upon to administer electoral disputes. Unlike the Nigerian Supreme Court, no “cult”, the judges are not prone to taking millions of dollars in bribes to thwart justice!
Also unlike Nigeria, Kenya cannot “boast” about being called the poverty capital of the world! Also, the country must never be described as a “fantastic corrupt” entity where bribery is state policy! Unlike our motherland, Kenya does not face serious problems of insecurity, although a terrorist organization known as Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin – commonly known as al-Shabaab – sometimes hits areas inside Kenya, killing innocent citizens and damaging critical infrastructure.
Since flag independence in 1963 (a good three years after Nigeria’s), Kenya has not been able to ‘boast’ kleptocrats like our own Ibrahim Babangida and the late General Sani Abacha. From Jomo Kenyatta to Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki to Uhuru Kenyatta and now William Ruto, never has a former leader of the country been accused of organizing a grand theft and depositing billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts!
Kenya recently organized a presidential election after the second consecutive mandate of outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta expired. At the zenith, two leading people’s candidates fought for power: opposition member Raila Odinga and then-Vice President William Ruto.
Odinga went into the election with the utmost confidence, having the backing of then-President Kenyatta, a former adversary-turned-ally. During the hotly contested 2017 presidential election, Kenyatta’s victory over Odinga was annulled by the Supreme Court following Odinga’s appeal. But instead of participating in the rescheduled rerun, Odinga chose to compete for unknown reasons.
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Like Atiku Abubakar, the former Nigerian vice president and the opposition PDP’s official candidate in next year’s presidential election, Odinga had run for the presidency four times, but failed each time. The last one might as well be his last as Atiku given his advanced age. At 77, Odinga would reach the “golden age” of 82 in the next five years, and if he tried again, Kenya would put an Abdoulaye Wade from Senegal in power! The old Senegalese political veteran came to power at 86!
Like the way former President Olusegun Obasanjo treated Atiku, his ex-vice ex-President Kenyatta contemptuously for political reasons because Ruto did not support Uhuru’s third-term move, Kenyatta pitched his political tent with his ex-ore – Rival as their alliance was controversially called a “famous handshake”. Now that Ruto had triumphed, Kenyatta and Odinga had to lick their deep political wounds.
The polls produced one winner and one loser, although the result was, as usual, controversial. According to the final official result announced by the Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, Ruto scored 7,176,141 votes, equivalent to 50.5%, to defeat his closest rival Odinga, who received 6,942 .930 votes, which is 48.8%. Four of the seven commissioners led by Juliana Cherera had disapproved of the result announced by their chair and described the entire process as “opaque”.
Odinga himself rejected the result and called it an “election parody”! He went to the Supreme Court to challenge the finding, armed with “harmful” information, including alleging that a Venezuelan citizen had digitally tampered with the final result. Odinga got lucky five years ago when the Chief Justices ruled in his favour, voiding Kenyatta’s re-election and ordering a re-election! This time his case was dismissed and the judges called his arguments “hot air”!
Chief Justice Martha Koome, in a unanimous decision on behalf of the seven justices, said that Odinga’s legal team “falsified documents and sensational information” in order to gain the judges’ judicial sympathy. Therefore, she declared Ruto duly elected, thereby destroying Odinga’s last chance to occupy the Nairobi House of Representatives.
Defeated in the elections and now before the Supreme Court, Odinga had reacted to the verdict, claiming he accepted it but seriously disagreed with it. A few days ago, President Ruto was sworn in as the fifth President of independent Kenya. Ex-President Kenyatta waited until the last minute to congratulate the winner. It was not what the two expected, the “Hustler” who defeated the sons of the “giants” in Kenyan politics!
The Kenyan Supreme Court had demonstrated its impartial and fearless decision in electoral matters. In contrast to the Nigerian supreme “cult”, there are no judicial henchmen and contractors, no criminals who support and encourage the spread of (in)justice with dirty gain. It is recalled that the Nigerian Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in a gubernatorial dispute involving incumbent Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma and several others.
In the end, a man who came third or fourth in the state in a Guber poll was “granted” the governorship! Today Governor Uzodinma is charged as a usurper; someone who used insidious connections or influence to “buy” power for themselves. Imolites still mourn the day an infamous verdict was announced in Abuja when the treasury was handed over to a political crook.
In the United States, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is one hell of a sport that rakes in billions of dollars a year. Monthly they organize competitive pay-per-views (sometimes out of the states). More so than soccer and boxing, it’s a wild sport that could keep me up all night during PPVs. Professional wrestling like basketball in America is as entertaining as anything imaginable.
There are sons and daughters of legends and dynasties, living or dead, who do well on the bloody field: Cody Rhodes, Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, etc. Randy, a former heavyweight champion, is the son of the late veteran Bob Orton. Popularly known as the “Viper” or “Legend Killer,” Orton Junior is pretty damn good and does even better than his late handsome father. He was dubbed the “legend killer” very early in his decorated career when he set out to kill or end the storied careers of Legends, his late father’s generation. He’s vicious, violent, and ruthless as he tried to make his name and money!
He competed against the likes of Triple H, Edge, The Undertaker, Kane, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Randy ‘RKO’ Orton is to the modern wrestling American what President Ruto is to the Kenyan politician. With diligence, piety, belief in one’s own potential and fearlessness, he had successfully ‘killed’ and retired two prominent sons of Kenya’s political dynasties: Odinga and Kenyatta.
Ruto’s spectacular election victory was instructive in many ways. First, it proved that in the world of politics, nothing is as impossible as sport. Second, even with the executive powers of the incumbent, a “hustler” could beat the vast opposition! And thirdly, with determination and foresight, you could achieve your life goal in the shortest possible time, godfather or no godfather.
As our country, Nigeria, goes to the polls early next year, the Kenyan example must motivate us and serve as a sure source of pride in the democratic system. Peter Obi, the Labor Party’s presidential candidate, could be compared to President Ruto. In the event that he defeats the opposition in February 2023 (Atiku, Asiwaju Tinubu) and the representatives of the selfless mainstream parties protest the result by going to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court would fulfill its responsibility by ensuring electoral justice practiced?
Or would they enlist the services of the forensic fixers and contractors hibernating in the FCT to buy a favorable verdict from the “cult” supreme? They successfully did it for President Buhari when he was defeated by “Atikulation” long ago in 2019! The winner suddenly became the vanquished through legal formalities!
As Ruto takes over the presidency in Nairobi, he hopes his “frantic” and legendary political skills and instincts would help him deliver democratic dividends to poor Kenyans. We wish him the best of luck!
AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa
Articles published in our graffiti section are solely the opinion of the authors and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stance.
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