Kenya and Nigeria have few things in common. Like Nigeria Kenya is an Anglophone country where English language is generally spoken. Like Nigeria the east African country is an economic ‘superpower’ as Nigeria in West Africa. Like Nigeria Kenya had experienced politico-social turmoils and bloodshed in their chequered national history. Like Nigeria ethno-religious politics is often used nefariously by depraved politicians to divide and rule the people. Unlike Nigeria, however, Kenya has enjoyed certain relative political stability post-independence. Though political violence had reared its ugly head following disputed presidential poll results the country has never experienced a military coup — much like Senegal, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania etc.
Kenya had organized general elections (sometimes controversial like Nigeria) but the judicial system, fiercely-independent, had played crucial decisive roles in settling the disputes saving lives and the sanity of the polity. The Supreme Court in Kenya has proved, time and time again, that it could be relied upon for the dispensation of justice in electoral disputes. Unlike the Nigerian Supreme Court, nay ‘Cult’, the Judges are not prone to taking millions of Dollars kickbacks to thwart justice!
Unlike Nigeria, too, Kenya cannot ‘boast’ of being labelled the poverty capital of the world! Nor the country ever be described as a ‘fantastically-corrupt’ entity where graft is a state policy! Unlike our fatherland Kenya does not have serious issues of insecurity to contend with though a terrorist organization, the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin — commonly known as al-Shabaab — sometimes hit areas inside Kenya killing innocent citizens and damaging critical infrastructures.
Since flag independence in 1963 (three good years after Nigeria’s) Kenya cannot ‘boast’ of kleptocrates like our own Ibrahim Babangida and the late Gen. Sani Abacha. From Jomo Kenyatta to Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki to Uhuru Kenyatta, and the current William Ruto no former leader in the country had ever been accused of organizing a grand larceny and depositing billions of Dollars in foreign bank accounts!
Kenya recently organized a presidential poll following the expiration of the second consecutive mandate of the out-gone President, Uhuru Kenyatta. Two leading popular candidates competed for power at the zenith: the opposition Raila Odinga and the then Vice-President William Ruto.
Odinga went into the election with supreme confidence having been supported by the then incumbent President, Kenyatta, a former opponent turned ally. During the hotly-contested presidential poll of 2017 Kenyatta’s victory over Odinga was annulled by the Supreme Court following Odinga’s appeal. But instead of participating in the rescheduled rerun Odinga opted out of the contest for some undisclosed reasons.
Like Atiku Abubakar, the Nigerian former Vice-President and official candidate of the opposition PDP in the forthcoming presidential poll next year, Odinga had contested four times for the presidency but failed in each occasion. The last one could well be his last given his advanced age much like Atiku. At 77 the next five years would see Odinga attaining the ‘golden’ age of 82 and trying to do it all over again would see Kenya having an Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal assuming power! The old Senegalese political veteran won power at 86!
Like the way and manner the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, disdainfully treated Atiku, his ex-Deputy, ex-President Kenyatta, for political reason of Ruto’s lack of support for Uhuru’s third term gambit Kenyatta pitched his political tent with his ex-arch-rival as their alliance was controversially termed the “famous handshake”. Now that Ruto had triumphed Kenyatta and Odinga were left to lick their deep political wounds.
A winner and a loser emerged from the polls though controversy, as usual, had greeted its outcome. According to the final official result declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, Ruto scored 7,176,141 votes representing 50.5% to defeat his closest rival, Odinga, who polled 6,942,930 representing 48.8%. Four out of the seven Commissioners led by Juliana Cherera had disapproved of the result so announced by their Chairman describing the whole process as “opaque”.
Odinga himself rejected the result describing same as electoral ‘parody’! He headed to the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome armed with ‘damaging’ information including the claim that a Venezuelan national had digitally tampered with the final outcome. Odinga was lucky five years ago as the Supreme Justices ruled in his favour invalidating Kenyatta’s re-election and ordering a rerun! This time his case was dismissed with the Justices describing his arguments as “hot air”!
Chief Justice Martha Koome said in a unanimous decision on behalf of the seven judges that Odinga’s legal team “forged documents and sensational information” in order to win judicial sympathy of the Justices. She, therefore, declared Ruto as duly-elected thereby killing Odinga’s last chance of occupying the State House in Nairobi.
Defeated at the polls and now at the Supreme Court Odinga had reacted to the verdict claiming he accepted it but seriously disagreed with same. Few days ago, President Ruto was sworn-in as the fifth President of the independent Kenya. Ex-President Kenyatta waited till the last minute to offer his congratulations to the winner. It was not what the two had expected, the ‘hustler’ defeating the sons of ‘giants’ in Kenyan politics!
The Supreme Court in Kenya had demonstrated its impartial and fearless adjudication of electoral issue. Unlike the Nigerian Supreme ‘Cult’ there are no judicial fixers and contractors, nay criminals, aiding and abetting the delivery of (in)justice with filthy lucre. The Supreme Court in Nigeria, it would be recalled, had delivered a controversial ruling in a gubernatorial litigation featuring the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, and few others.
In the end a man who came third or fourth in a guber poll in the state was ‘awarded’ the governorship! Today, Gov. Uzodinma stands accused as a usurper; one who used insidious connections or influence to ‘buy’ power for himself. Imolites still regret the day that infamous judgement was delivered in Abuja handing the state’s treasury to a political con-man.
In the United States the Vince McMahon-led World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is one hell of a sport raking in billions of Dollars year in, year out. Monthly they organize competitive pay-per-views (sometimes outside the States). More than football and boxing it is a wild sport that could keep me awake all night long during the 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, doing well in 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 the ‘Legend Killer’ Orton Junior is damn good, doing even better than his late handsome dad. He was nicknamed the ‘legend killer’ very early in his decorated career as he set out killing or ending the storied careers of legends, the generation of his late father. He is vicious, violent and ruthless as he sought to make name and money for himself!
He competed against the greats like Triple H, Edge, the Undertaker, Kane, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Randy ‘RKO’ Orton is to modern wrestling American what President Ruto is to politics Kenyan. With dint of hardwork, godliness, belief in one’s ability to deliver and fearlessness he had successfully ‘killed’ and retired two prominent sons of the Kenyan political dynasties: Odinga and Kenyatta.
Ruto’s spectacular triumph at the polls was instructive in many ways. One, it proved that nothing is impossible in the world of politics much like sports. Two, even with the executive power of incumbency a ‘hustler’ could trounce the formidable opposition! And three, with determination and vision one’s set goal in life could be realised at the fullest of time, godfather or no godfather.
As our country, Nigeria, goes to the poll early next year the Kenyan example must motivate us and serve as a sure source of pride in the democratic system. Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, could be likened to President Ruto. In the event that he trounces the opposition come February 2023 (Atiku, Asiwaju Tinubu) and the graft-friendly establishment parties’ representatives kick against the outcome by heading to the Supreme Court would the apex court live up to its responsibility by doing electoral justice?
Or would they employ the services of the judicial fixers and contractors hibernating in the FCT to buy favourable judgement from the Supreme ‘Cult’? They did it successfully for President Buhari when he was defeated by ‘Atikulation’ way back in 2019! The victor suddenly became the vanquished by judicial technicalities!
As Ruto assumes the presidency in Nairobi this is hoping that his ‘hustling’ and legend-killing political skills and instincts would help him to deliver democracy dividends to the poor Kenyans. We wish him the very best of luck!