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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Will Sakaja’s inexperience cost TNA the presidency?
Johnson Sakaja the chairman of TNA just recently celebrated his 28th birthday. Admittedly his experience in student politics at the University of Nairobi is useful in his new role as chairman of a popular national political party because SONU politics can sometimes get pretty rough and dirty.
His profile also says that he played a key role in the “re-election” of Mwai Kibaki in 2007 (ouch!!!!). I am still reviewing video footage of those who attended the bedroom swearing in at State house in 2008 (invited before the election results were announced) but I think I have a great chance of spotting Sakaja.
I have no problem with youth. Indeed I have said many times here that this country would be better off with a president who was under 40 years of age. I still hold strongly to those views.
Still there is no substitute to experience and this was proved yesterday when Sakaja made a very major blunder. So major is this blunder that it could easily turn the direction of this presidential election and lose Uhuru an election that he was going to win by a landslide.
Before I tell you what that blunder is, let me tell you a story. I was recently on the bus from Mombasa to Nairobi and struck up a conversation with this young pretty lass (why can’t this young women leave me alone?) From her slight accent and striking beauty I knew that she was Wiper Democratic Movement property but when I asked her who she was going to vote president, her answer shocked me.
“Uhuru,” she said without hesitation.
My point is that Uhuru Kenyatta has managed to attract a lot of votes from numerous young Kenyans who find it easier to identify themselves with a younger person. These young Kenyans know very little about the history of their country and have no time to delve into the details of boring ancient history. After all any titbit they want to know Bwana Google will tell them.
Now the big blunder Sakaja made was to complain about Wetangula’s recent remarks about a presidential candidate who was using wealth gained from grabbed land for his campaigns and also to bribe voters.
In recent times both CORD and Jubillee presidential candidates have been taking a swipe at each other and some of those swipes have been pretty personal. Many Kenyan voters have missed them, even those in Nairobi because incase you did not know we are all suffering from what somebody called “information overflow”. That is there is so much information flying at us from all directions that we ignore most of it and only pay attention to what we think is the most important.
Gullible Sakaja took Wetangula’s bait and in one master stroke has brought to national attention his presidential candidate’s soft under belly. The right strategy would have been to ignore the remark but if he felt that he must attract attention to himself and the party in some way he should have issued a statement that takes away attention from why Uhuru Kenyatta is so wealthy. Perhaps something about the TNA party being a party of youths where all folks who are over 50 are in the council of elders of the party.
As it is Sakaja’s complaint has attracted a lot of media attention and Kenyans are discussing it all over the place. And the younger Kenyans are asking if it is true. I laugh when I hear young people ask whether there is evidence. It would take any lawyer about 15 seconds flat to prove that Jomo Kenyatta was indeed a serious land grabber. Nobody did more than him to set the stage for the post election troubles of 2008. But I digress.
Many Kenyans lost their lives as a direct result of the grand old man’s appetite for land. It is instructive that the very first major political assassination in Kenya which took place when Kenya as a nation was barely a 2 year old toddler, was linked to Jomo Kenyatta’s land grabbing. I am of course talking about the ugly shooting of Pio Gama Pinto right in front of his 6 year old daughter. (Get all the details from my book Political assassinations in Kenya available for FREE to regular Kumekucha readers only). The bottom line is that this is still an extremely sensitive issue that could cost Uhuru millions of votes.
Why did Wetangula bring it up? Was he perhaps jealous and a little frightened about the kind of money the Jubilee coalition is spending? Difficult to tell, but Sakaja messed up big time and I am not sure if the Uhuru campaign is going to be able to recover from this one. Let’s wait and see shall we?
P.S. - The Jubilee Coalition will spend an estimated Sh10 billion in campaigns. Last week, Uhuru's TNA acquired 10 branded four-wheel-drive vehicles at an estimated cost of Sh30 million. The vehicles painted red with Uhuru's name on the side are to be used to transport TNA staff during rallies and roadshows. Late last year, Uhuru's running mate William Ruto of URP acquired five four-wheel-drive vehicles and bought a chopper. The two Jubilee leaders now have four choppers at their disposal — two of which they own and the other two hired by the Uhuru campaign on an as needed basis.
More about Sakaja
Sakaja Johnson, the National Chairman of TNA is currently the Principal Partner at Arthur Johnson Consultants which offers financial and strategic advisory services to Governmental and Private business entities in Kenya. He began his foray into national politics through student politics at the University of Nairobi (NASA – as vice chair of the Actuarial Students Association and later in SONU). Sakaja Johnson studied Actuarial Science and is currently pursuing Political Economics where he found his interests lie. He has been involved in National Politics since the 2005 referendum and played a key role in the 2007 re-election of H.E. Mwai Kibaki. Sakaja was also instrumental in the constitution making process being a key consultant to the COE and Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution on the issue of Representation and helped formulate the formula for delimitation of electoral boundaries in Kenya. He has also co-authored a book together with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ – Kenya Chapter) on Representation and Fiscal Decentralisation having particularly written the chapters on the Technical Framework for Devolution. Sakaja is also an avid musician and plays bass guitar for a local music band.
Sakaja hails from Western province.
TNA is run by young people between 30 and 35; the chairman, Mr Johnson Sakaja, is under 30. Those above the age of 50 will be accommodated in the parties Council of Elders, which is an organ of the party.