ODM Is Using the Obama Visit to Score Political Points [opinion]

Preparations to welcome United States President Barack Obama who is expected in Nairobi, Kenya, over this weekend are in high gear. The Nairobi county government has been busy repairing, redecorating and marking streets, beggars and street families have been relocated, and security has been enhanced substantially. There is a heightened sense of expectation in the air, and the excitement amongst Kenyans is almost palpable as the nation prepares to welcome a leader whom they claim to be their very own.

President Barack Obama is an American citizen born of a Kenyan father. A highly intelligent and reflective versatile leader, Obama followed the American dream becoming a Senator in Chicago, only to amazingly capture the Presidency of the United States of America after a single stint in the Senate defying history and all odds. He was the first non-Caucasian to ascend to be President of the World’s most powerful nation. In so doing, he redefined international race relations and validated the dreams and hopes of all persons of colour and minorities.

Though travelling to Nairobi to officially attend “the Global Entrepreneurship Summit” most Kenyans regard his trip as a homecoming. A triumphant son is finally returning to his roots, the homeland of his father. Nairobi was left out in his last trip to Africa, much to the consternation of Kenyans. That he is finally going to set foot on Kenyan soil prior to the determination of his final term as President, is considered a blessing and privilege by most Kenyans, and a rousing welcome awaits him.

In a recently released press statement, our official opposition ODM/Cord have chosen the state visit as an opportunity to release a dossier to President Barack Obama, highly critical of the Government of Kenya. In the words of Senator Moses Wetang’ula, the dossier will concentrate on issues of national security, corruption and governance. The move or threat goes completely against African culture and tradition, where people do not wash their dirty linen in the presence of visitors or guests. One would have thought the role of the opposition was to offer viable alternatives to leadership. Rather than become part of the solution they have opted to remain part of the problem.

Kenya has recently experienced security challenges due to sustained attacks from al Shabaab terrorists operating from neighbouring Somalia. Al Shabaab is an off-shoot of the infamous al Qaeda who have attacked the USA, France, Britain and Japan amongst others. We have born the brunt of the attacks due to geographical proximity, and the fact that our troops form part of the Amisom taskforce stationed by the United Nations in Somalia. Our troops, however, moved into Somalia with the full knowledge and consent of the US government. Troop movement was authorised by a Cabinet decision executed by joint Principals Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga (then President and Prime Minister respectively), Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula (as Vice President and Foreign Minister) and Yusuf Haji as Minister for Defence. Clearly the three ODM/Cord luminaries actively participated in sending our troops to Somalia. Opposition leaders must, therefore, desist from convoluting facts and scapegoating the current government.

Corruption in the country is the forte of an independent constitutional body namely the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. It is not a function of the Presidency. The opposition would be well advised to forward any complaints directly to the EACC. Whilst they are at it, it would be useful as a show of their sincerity and impartiality if they would forward the names of ODM/Cord governors named in the auditor general’s report for engaging in massive looting of county funds. One governor is accused of spending Sh21 million on profligate living in a Kisumu Hotel, whilst the Mombasa county government cannot account for almost Sh700 million, a third of their total revenue collection. Kenyans cannot help but wonder how opposition leaders regularly ignore acts of corruption by their own officials. Could it be a severe case of selective amnesia, or is it the biblical removal of a splint in a brother’s eye while leaving a log in yours?