A Digital Essay by Onyango Oloo
For a country which is the economic hub of East Africa; a country envied by its neighbours for its relative peace, security and stability; a country lauded internationally for its fairly progressive constitution-Kenya continues to depict stubborn primitive tendencies when it comes to hiring and firing people, especially those positions that swirl around political personalities.
Former President Daniel arap Moi created and perfected the template. About a decade ago, Dr. Adhu Awiti was on a Nairobi bound bus which had done a quick stop over in Nakuru to enable the passengers to visit the washrooms and have a quick bite. As he completed the washroom break, he was serenaded with the news, announced over the radio, that the President had just made him a cabinet minister. Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat was flying back to Kenya from Madagascar where he had gone to bury his mother in law. Upon landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, shocked relatives informed him in hushed tones that Moi had fired him as a permanent secretary in a terse statement announced over the radio.
This tradition continued in the post KANU NARC era-even after incoming President Kibaki had pledged in his inaugural address that the era of roadside pronouncements was over. Because his wife Lucy did not like a senior State House operative, Matere Keriri suddenly found himself jobless. Because he resented the fact that some of his ministers led by Raila Odinga had the temerity to campaign against the Wako Draft during the 2005 Referendum, Kibaki promptly fired them from their cabinet posts. Because he was more comfortable with his Gikuyu tribesmen around him, Kibaki shamelessly appointed the heads of the NSIS, the Central Bank and the Armed Forces without consultation and due process.
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, Raila Amollo Odinga, was supposed to be different, a counter point to the KANU authoritarian culture.
He knew first hand about the ignominy of arbitrary appointments and disappointments. He had been a perennial victim of high level, state connected, back room machinations and shenanigans by unscrupulous schemers, unprincipled wheelers and demented political dealers. He had led the public outcry and popular indignation when his co-principal tried to sneak in Visram, Muigai, Tobiko and Co. Ltd into the positions of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. He had been the torch bearer in the clamour for the new constitutional dispensation which had strict and rigorous criteria, standards and safeguards when it came to public appointments.
Then on Thursday, August 4th 2011, Raila Odinga shocked the progressive and democratic minded contingents of this nation when he delegated one of his political functionaries to throw Miguna Miguna, probably his most ardent defender and supporter, out of the 16th Floor office in the NHIF building located in Upper Hill that Miguna occupied as the Prime Minister’s Advisor as well as Joint Secretary for Inter-Coalition Affairs.
Raila did this while safely ensconced away in Kisumu, far away from the political maelstrom he knew was brewing in the Kenyan capital.
Since it was the Prime Minister who had essentially hired Miguna Miguna (even though the actual appointment letter was signed by President Kibaki) one would have expected, at a minimum, Raila Odinga to proffer Miguna the simple courtesy of calling him or even more preferably, summoning Miguna in person and informing him to his face that he was being suspended. After all, two people who had far more serious charges of corruption during the Maize Scandal- Mohammed Isahakia and Omondi Caroli- had been offered a fig leaf as well as a face saving option of seeming to “voluntarily step aside” when they had as a matter of fact, been effectively suspended-with pay and access to their respective offices.
Those of us who have known and been in the trenches with Raila Odinga for the last thirty years supporting him steadfastly when the forces of repression, reaction and impunity were clamouring for his neck at the end of the hangman’s noose, must today condemn in the strongest terms, the shoddy way the Prime Minister has treated his former Political Advisor; we must denounce, without reservations and caveats, the lack of due process he displayed towards Miguna; we must stand up and angrily, loudly and stridently blow our firimbis while showing the Prime Minister our yellow cards for that flagrant and unnecessary foul Raila perpetrated against his stalwart full back Miguna Miguna.
Why bring down one of your star players at the exact moment when your opponents are bolstering their G 7 attack pack?
Since Agwambo is fond of soccer, I am sure he understands perfectly well what Onyango Oloo is saying.
Unwittingly, the Prime Minister is now making even some of his most ardent supporters to give a second thought to William Ruto’s constant refrain that Raila Odinga is a master of “Use and Dump” dirty tricks.
What I am saying is that even though it was the mandarins from the PM’s office-themselves throwbacks of the Moi regime- who announced to the world Miguna’s payless suspension, it is the Prime Minister himself who must take responsibility for this callous act of ingratitude.
But why was Miguna Miguna flung out of the 16th floor with the cold blooded intention of letting the prolific columnist and pugnacious political pugilist to hurtle to his premature doom?
Permanent Secretary Mohammed Isahakia and ODM Chief Whip and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo (who just so happens to be Raila’s cousin) have given their versions which are in the public domain and are not worth repeating here.
Miguna Miguna has given an eloquent account stating his side of the story. I posted it on the Jukwaa website and you can access it by pressing this link.
In summary, Miguna recounts his surprise at the lack of due process, defends himself against all the allegations and zeroes in on Midiwo and Isahakia as among the principal culprits who plotted his ouster.
The reasons adduced as contributing to Miguna’s abrupt fall to grass from grace are too implausible and threadbare as to withstand serious objective scrutiny.
So what really caused Miguna’s downfall?
To be quite candid, it is not a secret that many pangas have been brandished for the last couple of years, aiming at Miguna’s burly neck.
The big wigs in the PNU double decker bus have been gunning for the PM’s advisor from as far back as the December 2007 civilian coup that imposed Mwai Kibaki illegally as President for a second term.
My Facebook friend and PNU Spokesperson Moses Kuria (curiously he, like Miguna, is a former SONU student leader who once faced expulsion for his campus activism) wanted Miguna turfed out on the grounds that the former Nyando aspirant mwananchi was actually a Canadian alien.
In early 2010 a bunch of spineless ODM MPs from Nyanza, many of them former KANU life members, called a press conference to defend the dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi and denounce Miguna Miguna for criticizing the KANU despot. A victim of Moi- Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang who was expelled from the University of Nairobi in 1979- also joined the raucous anti- Miguna chorus.
Lately, the rowdy pro- Ruto ODM MPs from the Rift Valley have ratcheted their rhetoric against “The Canadian in the PM’s office” even as Miguna went on a relentless onslaught against the Ocampo Six and Ruto in particular.
KACC Chairperson PLO Lumumba, Director of Public Prosecutions Keraiko Tobiko and IIEC head honcho Isaack Hassan have tasted the iron hot ire of Miguna’s withering critiques.
But NONE of these- not Moi; not Ruto; not PLO, Tobiko or Moses Kuria twisted the dagger in Miguna’s surprised innards.
We have to turn to the last pages of Agatha Christie’s famous detective novels for an insight into the identity of the true culprits. The late British crime raconteur had a gift in keeping her abject readers in taut suspense to the very end- only to reveal the least likely person as the mastermind of the dastardly crime.
In Kiswahili there is a saying, “Kikulacho ki nguono mwako” literally meaning that what is gnawing you lurks within your garb- in other words, the ENEMY IS WITHIN.
In the last few days I have been conversing with some well placed sources within ODM itself.
One source intimated to me that:
“Your friend’s fate was sealed when he went against the party hierarchy last year. They schemed to remove him from ODM’s YES Secretariat just before the referendum even though he had played a key role in helping with the drafting and strategizing. Some of them were uncomfortable with his no compromise position when they were busy horse trading and diluting the original harmonized draft in active collusion with PNU at Naivasha. They also felt that Miguna pushed the Prime Minister to alienate the Rift Valley MPs costing ODM crucial votes in that region.”
Some of the attempted justifications of Miguna's suspension by ODM party appartchiks border on the comical.
For instance, the party's Chief Whip, Jakoyo Midiwo is quoted on page 28 of the August 6th edition of the Standard on Sunday as asserting:
"The party could not hear civil servants interfering in political affairs. The party had to impose discipline and more is coming. His actions of interfering with other autonomous departments and heads of institutions from the Speaker of the National Assembly to the Independent Interim Electoral Commission were hurting us(ODM)".
Here is a news flash for the Gem MP:
Miguna's title was POLITICAL Advisor to the Prime Minister. How could he do that without "interfering" in politics?
More immediately, Miguna Miguna was NOT an employee of the Orange Democratic Movement party. Miguna Miguna was appointed to a STATE position by President Mwai Kibaki in exactly the same manner as Prof. Kivutha Kibwana and Raphael Tuju. The letter of appointment was written by Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura on behalf of the President. Miguna was at Job Group V (along with Francis Muthaura, Tuju and Kibwana). Job groups U and V are not governed by the PSC. Miguna could have only been suspended and fired under the same conditions and by the same authority which hired him.
Thirdly, the views Miguna expressed over the IIEC were shared by other top officials in the ODM party and therefore the fake indignation expressed by Jakoyo Midiwo is not only dishonest but galling. ODM Executive Officer is actually the one who commissioned Miguna Miguna to write the article. This was after ODM Secretary General Prof. Peter Anyang' Nyongo had sent the IIEC a letter essentially making more or less the same arguments. So the alleged "reason" cannot be Miguna's article on the IIEC published in the Star, which in any case, only bolstered ODM's position on Isaack's adamant refusal to deregister the 38 nominated councillors who had brazenly defected to UDM but still wanted to retain their ODM perks.
Jakoyo Midiwo also faulted Miguna Miguna for having the audacity to fly to the Hague when the Ocampo Six were making their first appearance before the International Criminal Court.
But here the Gem MP and ODM power broker is being deliberately mischevious, disingenous and plain malicious.
The fact of the matter is that Miguna along with Salim Lone, went to the Hague with the express permission of the Prime Minister. Their business class tickets, per diems and expenses twere covered fully by the Government of Kenya as it did for Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, Gen. Hussein Ali, Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Muchemi and others.
I have stopped various people on the streets of Nairobi and asked them to comment on the Miguna saga. I have been surprised at the number of ODM supporters who welcome his departure. Their reason is less shocking: if Raila got rid of Miguna, he must have had very good reasons.
I read the front page "splash" as they call the lead story in the newspaper industry in the Sunday Express ( a paper I served as Political Editor in 2009). Writer Brian Adero reveals that:
...The suspension of Miguna Miguna and recent reshuffling of Caroli Omondi from critical assignment and dockets is part of the strategic game plan by the colourful politician going forward. To show he is fast changing his game plan for the 2012 race, Raila has been preaching peace and building bridges with his sour grape contacts in Rift Valley and making forays in Central Province after covering good ground in the Meru region and winning point men in Gitobu Imanyara, Mpuri Aburi and Maoka Maore and warming up to Mithika Linturi among others. But it is the suspension of his advisor on Coalition Affairs that sent shivers and signals that is not business as usual for Raila...According to a powerful minister from Nyanza who has been close to Raila since their days in NDP and KANU, the PM must crack the whip or else he will lose favour with his supporters who are critical to his success in the 2012 general elections. Some of the PM's close allies and confidants especially those from Nyanza whom Raila have retained are accused of being more of a liability to his 2012 and should be kicked out."Some of these people who are apparently a "liability" to the Prime Minister include James Orengo who was at the forefront of protesting Mwai Kibaki's electoral theft at the height of the 2007 civilian coup.
As the Waswahili say, " Ahsante ya punda ni mashizi." (A donkey shows its gratitude by shitting on you!).
Another highly placed source told me something surprising.
“Everyone is talking about the Kibaki Succession. But how about the Raila Succession? Raila is pushing 70 years of age. What happens if he dies or becomes incapacitated? Who takes over as leader of ODM? Some of them feared that Miguna’s high profile and closeness to Agwambo was a threat to their own political ambitions. Was Raila grooming Miguna to be his successor? You know this is how some of these people think- devoid of principle and a strategic vision grounded in ideological clarity.”
When I pressed this person to give me names, he demurred, hesitating to go on the record beyond this point apart from blurting out:
“ Who were some of the people who attended that meeting that decided to suspend Miguna? Therein lies part of your answer.”
From my own independent sources I was made to understand that there were actually TWO meetings held in the Prime Minister's office to decide the fate of Miguna Miguna and the following people were in attendance:
Jakoyo Midiwo, Oburu Odinga, James Orengo, Mohammed Isahakia, Isaack Hassan, Alfred Mutua, Francis Kimemia and Raila Odinga himself.
I do not want to be drawn into speculating whether this was a grand plot by the wider Odinga dynasty to protect the apex of the ODM party restricting it to one of their own.
It is possible that Miguna Miguna had rubbed the conservative wing of ODM the wrong way.
It is possible that on the Miguna Miguna issue, the forces of impunity closed party ranks, united in their determination to silence the former Political Advisor of the Prime Minister. This would explain the presence of Mutua and Kimemia in that meeting.
It would also explain how an intercepted text message from Miguna’s cell phone to that of the Prime Minister ended up on the newly set up blog, www. kenyaradarlive.com. The people most likely to hack into these highly secured devices are agents of the National Security Intelligence Service, the same force responsible for the confidential documents found by Miguna’s young son at the “Gate House” used by the state security assigned to “protect” Miguna at his Runda home.
Whatever the case, Raila Odinga has lost one of his most trusted and valuable allies sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. ODM has been unnecessarily weakened because of narrow and fleeting ambitions by some insecure political traders who are unlikely to add any new value to the Prime Minister’s plans to become the Fourth President. The G7 cabal must be uncorking their 15th champagne bottle.
Sunday, August 7, 2011