Friday, April 27, 2007

Once an incumbent, always an incumbent!

Once an incumbent, always an incumbent!

“Lang’ata MP, Mr Raila Odinga, has spoken of the awesome power of incumbency and the dangers of a splintered Opposition, and sent out a fresh plea for unity in ODM-Kenya”. Not many people, especially in his camp, seem to have paid attention to these words which were carried in one of the Kenyan dailies yesterday but they may just hold the secret weapon that will propel President Kibaki back to power.

The flurry of interest, activity and excitement surrounding the 2007 General elections in Kenya is no accident. Almost every constituency is burning and sparks are gonna fly fire, so be prepared. Everyone who follows politics keenly understands the innumerable advantages that incumbency bestows. The power of incumbency is related in no small way to political parties. Conventionally, the power of incumbency has been embedded in the immeasurable fund-raising opportunities, the open media attention and the name recognition that attaches to the president, his ministers and members of parliament. Incumbency is an important barrier facing women because most incumbents are men.In short, incumbency matters a great deal, and the advantage incumbency affords make it difficult for a possibility of widespread defeat for incumbents.

Name recognition is a major factor in being re-elected over and over again. No wonder nepotism has always been alive and well in Kenyan politics. Certain names are associated with wealth and power thus defeating them in any political contest is always a gigantic task. Betting on the re-election of a sitting elected official is like putting money in the bank. That is simply a fact of life in Kenyan politics. The only question is why that happens and what, if anything, can or should be done about it. In many constituencies this year, incumbency remains a powerful force. The current legislators have had an advantage that many of their predecessors did not have. Their fat pay checks enabled them to criss-cross their constituencies bestowing favors on the voters and participating in development project initiatives on a level that has never been witnessed in the past.

In fairness we would have loved to declare that all of the participants in this epic struggle for power in the Kenya are citizens who believe that their strategies and tactics for claiming and holding political power are in the best interests of the nation. We would love to say that even when the ideological divide between the two main factions in this year’s elections become rancorous and divisive, this power struggle will be a debate than a war. Unfortunately, history shows that political debates in Kenya have produced great enmity from time to time on both sides. Enmity has escalated to nasty political tactics and various low-end shenanigans in some cases.

In order to better understand the political game – as in game theory not idle entertainment – we need to know well who the opposing players are in the 2007 elections. Unfortunately, there is no absolute dividing line between the opposing sides. In fact we find some politicos playing both sides of the debate as it suits their personal ambitions. In the main though there are two opposing sides, which can be defined by the ideas, issues and candidates, they support. For most activists and hacks the two factions vying for power are ODM-Kenya and Narc-Kenya. However, there are many identifying characteristics of personalities in both groups which makes it almost impossible to distinguish one group from the other. Both incumbents and aspiring candidates are running with political baggage. Again this serves to the advantage of the incumbent since there is nothing unique or new that one can point out on the opposition side.

Unseating an incumbent requires money, name recognition and deals with local leaders, and often a helping hand from local government officials. Very few of the aspiring opposition contestants this year have strong legislative records and numerous political alliances like the incumbents thus the path to victory will be tougher for them.

Unlike in 2002 when the battle cry for many local Council, parliamentary and even presidential challengers was for reform and change, for fresh faces and new beginnings, the opposition today faces a sitting president who has managed to play his cards safely thus avoiding unnecessary negative politicking. He has also worked hard to steer the country’s economy a step higher than it was when he took over the leadership of the country. Coupled with the fact that the opposition is made up of people with tainted backgrounds, one can almost certainly believe Raila’s words that unseating President Kibaki is going to be a HUGE challenge to the current shaky opposition which is held together not by ideology but by the thirst to grab power and either safeguard their ill-gotten loot or have the opportunity to loot and amass wealth for themselves.

One prayer that the opposition can bank on is that President Kibaki and his lieutenants may rest on their oars thinking that power of incumbency will do the magic for them at the general elections.

So what solution does Raila and his colleagues have? In the perspective of political marketing, an election campaign consists of three phases: exploration of the political demand, creation of the political offer, promotion of the offer. Despite the different contexts in each constituency and in each election year, are there strategies that could be shared by all aspiring challengers?

Monday, April 23, 2007


Another record has been broken in Nigeria! A civilian has been elected to succeed President Olusegon Obasanjo. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, a former chemistry teacher, is set to be Nigeria's first university educated leader

Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, the Executive Governor of Katsina State, was born in Katsina Town, Katsina State in 1951. He started his primary education at Rafukka Primary School, Katsina in 1958. He left Rafukka for Dutsinma Boarding Primary School in 1962 from where he completed his primary education in 1964.

Between 1965-1969, Umaru Yar’adua was at Government College, Keffi in present-day Nasarawa State for his secondary education. He then moved to the famous Barewa College Zaria for his Higher School Certificate between 1970-1971. For his university education, Yar’adua attended the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria from 1972-1975 where he obtained the B.Sc Education/Chemistry. He returned to the same University from 1978-1980 for his M.Sc Degree in Analytical Chemistry.

During his tenure as Governor, the state has gone through an unprecedented development, culminating in profoundly transformation of the educational and health institutions, provision of rural and urban roads, electrification, water supply and agriculture. Today, people of Katsina State can boast of a Governor with proven record of prudence, accountability and transparency. Under his leadership, Katsina State now has a surplus of N6.5billion from a near empty treasury and back log of debts in 1999. No wonder, Umaru Yar’adua won the National Primary Education Productivity Merit Award in 2004 and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Best Governor Award under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) in 2005. Yar’adua’s primary health care delivery system and primary education policies have become models with compelling national appeal. His determination to make taxation the major source of public finance in Katsina State has currently pre-occupied his administration with implementation of plans to process and make viable neem production in the State. This is expected to bring in export revenue in excess of USD2billion to farmers and people of Katsina State. The Governor further expects 25% of this or USD500 million to accrue to the state treasury as revenue for the sustenance of his efforts. He was honoured with many other awards for prudence and accountability, among which are NUJ Abuja Council (2003); NUJ Kaduna Council (2005) and Leadership Watch (2004).

Source: http://www.yaradua2007.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=26

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


STANDARD GROUP COMMENT:Stop this vendetta against us

The great tragedy of our day is that the lowest form of propaganda and blackmail — lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth and the reality of most citizens’ lives — has overridden the golden credo that Government exists to do no harm and for the good of all.

This is obviously the case in Kenya today when a section of Government withdraws advertising from the Standard Group Limited on the spurious grounds that the media house is adversarial to it. The harm intended is financial incapacitation — a scheme that is doomed to fail.

This is obviously the case when the same elements in Government detain the top management of the same company for a story it ran from verifiable sources instead of investigating the serious allegations contained in the story.

This is obviously the case when State resources are marshalled to intimidate a media house whose only crime is executing its legitimate mandate in the public interest when such resources could make a huge difference in the Mt Elgon region, currently experiencing fatal clashes between our citizenry.

This is obviously the case when those who strive to defend the honour of our nation against the sacrilegious defilement by two miscreants — just two of them — are given a bad name and handed the punishment due to the miscreants.

This is obviously the case when the security situation in the country has degenerated to alarming levels and all the minister in charge can do is read threatening and intimidating statements against a media house that is known to harbour no criminal.

What are the issues here? The issues simply are that the Standard Group Ltd (SGL) has been under consistent attack from a section of Government — repeat a section of Government — for the better part of two years when the country is facing greater challenges.

Not only have our employees been physically assaulted, we have been raided, our property destroyed, ours editors illegally held, our transmission interrupted, our press disabled, our newspapers burnt, our directors harassed and now advertising discontinued.

Why all this? Because of two foreign miscreants without as much as fleeting respect for our country, our leadership or our culture.

Lest we forget, let us refresh our memory. The media exists to report accurately and, yes, responsibly on matters of public interest. The Artur saga is a matter of great public interest. SGL did not create the Artur brothers. SGL did not invite them to Kenya. SGL did not dictate who their handlers were. SGL did not even deport them, if they were indeed deported. The Government knows who did all this.

Our coverage of this issue has been consistent with that of any responsible corporate citizen, particularly a media house. In fact, the Standard considered claims that the Arturs were here and were planning grievous harm frivolous until we were raided by, among others, people witnesses say were of Caucasian origin.

SGL was the first to come to Internal Security Minister Mr John Michuki’s defence when Artur Margaryan ordered him to shut up. Whereas the usually courageous and forthright minister kept quiet to the consternation of many, we stepped forward to defend the honour of our leadership. We were the first to call for the duo’s deportation. We were the first to call for an inquiry into their activities. We were the first to wonder aloud how the duo could threaten to unleash dogs on our Police Commissioner. We have behaved like any proud and responsible corporate citizen should.

Question: Is the love for this great nation restricted to words without actions? Was SGL being irresponsible or anti-Government by defending the honour of the same Government? Who should be under interrogation here, us who have kept Kenyans informed or those who want to muzzle us?

Therefore, and justifiably so, we take great exception to the renewed harassment and intimidation from a section of Government.

Yesterday, an e-mail instruction made available to us clearly states that all Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) adverts booked in our newspaper and television station were to be cancelled immediately and redirected to other media houses.

Others that have been given similar directives by the Government and immediately acted upon include Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and parastatals in the ministries of Agriculture, Education and Health.

The question that must be asked is: Is there an attempt to peg advertising to favourable media coverage? What is this supposed to tell those citizens — taxpaying and otherwise — whose only source of information is The Standard and KTN? That they don’t matter or that for their Government to communicate with them, they must consume media of the Government’s choice?

Of course we are alive to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, a former President of the United States of America, who once said: "The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves, nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the Press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe…

"The most effectual engines for (pacifying a nation) are the public (news)papers… (A despotic) government always (keeps) a kind of standing army of news writers who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, (invent) and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper."

Whether this holds true in Kenya’s situation despite highly positive opinion polls is for every individual Kenyan to judge.

Anyhow, we wish to reiterate our position: We are an independent media house that publishes content we believe serves compelling public interest and not one that panders to individual egos.

In executing that mandate, we have the resolve of a river that must reach its destination and for this our journalists and managers are well-prepared. We are not enemies of Government and we believe with its intelligence networks, the Government can ascertain that easily.

On Monday, we published a story that led to this state of affairs. We stand by that story and here below repeat some of the questions we raised which remain unanswered:

• Why did a layman, a former policeman named Shedrach Kiruki, and not a legal expert head the commission of inquiry into the activities of the Arturs?

• Why were certain parties, such as SGL, denied the opportunity to testify at the inquiry? After all, the Arturs allegedly led the squad that raided the Group on March 2 last year — a raid captured on CCTV, and which Michuki has termed a Government operation.

• Why was a lawyer who sought to represent the Arturs at the commission not allowed to have his day on the stand?

• The commission’s report, the Government said, would not be made public because it touches on sensitive matters of security. Why is the minister in charge of that security still in office?

• Is there any truth in claims by Mr Raila Odinga, the Lang’ata MP, that these men were mercenaries? Whose dogs of war were they?

• The Arturs drove around in cars bearing Government registration plates. If the plates were faked, why were they not arrested and arraigned? If they were real, how did they get them and for what missions?

• The Arturs had security passes that gave them access to any part of any of Kenya’s airports at any time. Only the very apex of the Kenya Airports Authority pyramid can issue such passes. But at whose behest and for what reason?

• Immigration Minister Gedion Konchellah defended the Arturs saying they were investors. In what sector of the national economy were they interested?

• On whose advice was Konchellah and Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua acting when they told Kenyans that the Arturs were investors on H class visas and work permits? On whose authority were they issuing such statements on people who would later be declared persona non grata?

• On whose advice was Konchellah acting when he authorised the issuance of passports to the two?

• It is on record that it was the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) that vetted and cleared the two men to get Kenyan passports! Is this true and at whose behest and for what purpose?

• Did Michuki know that the Arturs had documents making them high-ranking police officers — Deputy Commissioners to be precise? Did the Arturs in that capacity or otherwise lead the assault on SGL on March 2, last year? Did Michuki know that Margaryan was one of his officers? Did he know that the man was tasked with training some of the members of his elite squads? Are Kenyans not damned if he did not know? Are they not damned if he knew?

• It should be recalled that the commission of inquiry heard witnesses recount how the Arturs were helped to stage-manage an arrival at JKIA and how they were allowed to use the VIP Lounge and insult the whole country’s poverty. If this is not a serious enough indictment on those who manage our security and airports, what is? Why are those people who presided over this national disgrace still in office?

Instead of our Internal Security minister sitting on his official chair to put up a show and threaten the media, he should provide answers to these questions or simply have the honour to resign. And Mr Michuki this is not personal vendetta. If you want evidence, consider that the First Lady, Mrs Lucy Kibaki, has found time to visit and commiserate with the victims of Mt Elgon clashes. You have not. Is this personal vendetta?

For his own good reasons, the President has chosen to keep Michuki as his minister in charge of Internal Security. But as a media house, we wish to tell our President that the vast majority of Kenyans have no confidence in this minister who might have been a success in the Transport portfolio but has been an unmitigated failure in Internal Security. Your Excellency, Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

For their solidarity and support, we thank our readers and viewers, the international community, the local media who have rightly realised that this is not a war against the Standard but a war against the entire media, our political leaders both from the Government and Opposition who have rallied to our defence, religious organisations and advertisers who have stood by us despite all.

They have all done well for as Martin Luther King, Jr said: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

On this we stand.


Monday, April 16, 2007


BACKGROUND: Busia District Profile

Busia District is one of the districts comprised in Western Province, Kenya. Butere Mumias District borders it to the east, Bungoma District to the north east, Teso District to the north, Siaya District to the south east, Bondo District to the south and the Republic of Uganda to the west. The District of over 600,000 people covers an area of 1,261.3 square kilometers, 137 square kilometers of which is under permanent water surface - Lake Victoria. The mean annual rainfall for the district is 1500mm with most parts of the district receiving between 1,270mm and 1,790mm. During the long rains, crops such as maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, soya beans, cowpeas, green grams and beans are grown in most parts of the district. Though not highly practiced, the land can grow quick maturing crops such as kales, simsim and sunflower, as well as, long-term crops such as sugarcane, robusta coffee, cassava, avocados, oranges, and bananas. The district is further subdivided into 5 administrative divisions namely, Butula, Nambale, Matayos, Funyula and Budalangi.


Nambale constituency in Busia district is one of the underdeveloped areas and according to World Food Program report for 2005, the area has higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS and 36% of its citizen lives in “hardcore poverty”, a condition where food needs cannot be met even when a family’s expenditure is entirely on food. The level of “absolute poverty” (i.e. in ability to meet basic food and non-food needs) is estimated at 54%. Generally schools within the area have very little infrastructure for learning. On community level, inadequate information, inaccessible tools and skills to fight poverty as well as generational cycles of poverty have for so long suppressed individual’s innovativeness, creativity and entrepreneurship potential. The community has determined farmers with no access to crucial farming technology and entrepreneurs with inadequate information on their trade. The sum of all these challenges is forcing young people, the active work-force, to migrate to the cities disrupting the community’s civic commitment and scuttling hopes for community development.


Hon. Amos Wako – Attorney General, Republic of Kenya
Hon. Chris Okemo – MP, Nambale Constituency
Mr. Philip J.W. Masinde – Former MP, Nambale Constituency
Mr. Sakwa Bunyasi – Retired employee of World Bank & 2007 Parliamentary Aspirant (Nambale Constituency)
Mrs.Lydiah A.Achode- High Court Registrar
Retired Rev. Canon Ngota – A.C.K Church, Busende Parish
Engineer Dan Barasa – Ministry of Water Resource and Development.
Mr. Nyongesa Wandera – University of Nairobi (Student), Coordinator (Students for Rural Community Development), Moderator (Bukhayo Youth Action)
(Please feel free to give us more names of prominent personalities from Nambale Constituency)

Regeneration of the Nambale Cotton Ginnery
Revival of Matayo’s Youth Polytechnic
Development of Busende Secondary School
Setting up of a Tertiary Learning Institution in the District
Development of the Nambale Sugar Factory
The establishment of the Nambale University

(Thanks to Henry Victor Okumu for the research and compilation of this information)