When opposition leaders under the National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition launched their pact in Nairobi, Deputy President William Ruto, hurriedly dismissed them as power hungry people.
This is an old mantra for embattled regimes, which try to depict their opponents as evil, while presenting themselves as selfless servants of the people.
But, as we learnt with former President Moi, those who preach against love of power often have very strong will to power themselves, their only beef being that someone else covets their power.
Wole Soyinka best satirised this duplicity in his play, Kongi’s Harvest, where the leader would feign humility by feebly resisting to be photographed while actually posing for a shot.
“I hate to be photographed,” he would roar at the cameramen, gesturing for another shot!
So the Deputy President wants us to believe that the Jubilee government is not power hungry, or that hunger for power is ignoble.
Yet he and President Uhuru Kenyatta have abandoned poor citizens without health services and higher education to go on a campaign spree without any sense of guilt or shame.
Oh, how they hate power, indeed!
Power is good because organisation of modern society is such that positive and sustainable programmes can only be effected through leadership.
Power is the medium of service outside which no meaningful achievements can be realised.
Many Kenyans can confess the frustration of seeking solutions to national problems like security, sewerage, roads, et cetera.
Even under residents’ associations, the efforts are far less effective because such services are best coordinated by national or civic governments.
Some people advocate leadership from below, arguing that you don’t need political office to bring positive change.
These are mostly sympathisers of inept regimes who try to deflect criticism back to the people with excuses such as the government cannot do everything or that we should be the change we desire in society.
Power is the fulcrum of development. Without power, people with vision and ideas waste time exchanging them in seminars, policy papers and academic journals where they remain dormant unless implemented by those in power.
Every Kenyan and more so opposition leaders have a right to be power hungry, as it is the most potent weapon to drive change.
Yet, for Jubilee it’s a non sequitur. Here is a government campaigning for re-election, while unable to solve problems.
The country is hobbling under corruption, yet we invest heavily to facilitate our President so that he can lead in the people’s interest.
But instead of using that power to protect our resources, the President was recently asking us what we want him to do!
The government has the power to provide security, yet we have seen armed herders raiding people’s farms and destroying private property with searing impunity.
The peasant in Laikipia whose crops and granary were recently destroyed, and the investor whose lodge was looted, have a right to ask: where is the President who took the oath to defend the Constitution?
SEIZE LEADERSHIP REINS
It’s a big tragedy for a nation when those in power are, well, powerless.
It fosters institutional paralysis as people with ideas and the passion to serve their country have no power and those with power are lethargic and incompetent.
That’s why we should all be power hungry and demand the power back from an underwhelming administration.
If, indeed, Jubilee is not power hungry, they should call it a day, and pave the way for others who can make better use of power instead of wasting national time and potential.
Mr Njaga is a travel consultant. [email protected]