President to be elected on Oct 26 should heal political divisions

Monday October 9 2017

President

Combo photos: Nasa leader Raila Odinga (left) addresses journalists at Capitol Hill, Nairobi, on September 26, 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses Kisii and Nyamira counties' delegates at State Lodge Grounds, Nakuru County, on September 13, 2017. What the country needs is a unifying President. PHOTOS | JEFF ANGOTE AND AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JEFF ALUDO
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The current political impasse and bitter exchanges amongst leaders have left little said about Kenyans’ real preferences for the next President.

But Kenyans have another opportunity to evaluate what they want in their leader.

During this crucial time, it would be good to focus on the issues at hand.

Each day of negative discourse threatens progress and everything we value.

Left unchecked, irresponsible rhetoric and self-interest groups can collapse the values, systems, and institutions established to foster justice, peace and prosperity.

PRESIDENCY
Due to widespread public distrust, our current nadir of politics threatens our nation and people.

Without trust, institutions flounder, one by one and none more than the presidency.

This might explain why the presidency requires higher scrutiny, and any distrust needs to be repaired.

Presume that the IEBC organises itself and conducts a free, fair and transparent election on October 26; What do you want your next President focused on?

Good advisers would say the next President can no longer afford to be sidetracked by every political side show.

TRUST

More than ever, given threats to our unity, the independence of our institutions and our economic health, our next President must be clear-eyed about the priorities – undistracted by political sycophants, unmoved by playground taunts and undeterred by news hype.

At a time when noise wins the day over creed, the next President must initially focus on building unity and regaining trust.

For our next President to succeed, he cannot afford to see the country as supporting and opposing factions; as regional strongholds or even two opposing parties.

What the country needs is a unifying President, who must see 45 million constituents tied in a common bond.

CHANGE

There are two unifying priorities in which virtually everyone has a stake: our common pursuit for well-being regardless of age, gender, tribe or creed, and economic empowerment for all.

The President’s core agenda must change.

He will lead at a time of both immense promise but great peril.

His leadership will be defined by whether he lifts the nation to new heights, or let it continue to fall into the abyss of segregated disrepair.

DIALOGUE

The President should develop a unifying platform within the first year.

Neutralising hate and divisive language is paramount.

He should build a national reconciliatory tone and dialogue.

While negative rhetoric against opponents seems okay during the campaign season, the opposite is true when running the government.

Negativity might sell now, but it also kills trust.

SHREWD

So, on the day he takes office, the President should work to rebuild unity.

Just as Nelson Mandela did with F.W. de Klerk, it calls for compromise.

It calls for assuming the better nature of the other side - seeking to hear and earn respect for contrary points of view and ignore what political instincts you may have to the contrary.

It may be tempting to respond to every perceived provocation from rivals, interest groups or pundits.

But leadership rooted in trust demands that you focus on the bigger picture.

COHESION
It is necessary to address the growing discontent with great responsibility to leap across the divide and the chasms of segmentation.

The country will need a new national story.

The Kenyan story has been mired by one of the favoured and marginalised.

Let us create a new story - one of the lone individual who rises from the bottom through audacity and work.

One whose story exudes possibilities for any Kenyan, regardless of tribe.

It might be a story about communities that seemingly relegated or isolated find new prosperity.

The next leader must rebuild the sense that we are all in this together, reignited in the task of building a ladder of hope for people across Kenya and building our nation in harmony towards a brighter future.

Mr Aludo, a strategy adviser, is the managing director Africapractice EA Ltd. [email protected] Twitter: JeffAludo