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NASA: A gift from the gods or a curse?


You can be forgiven for wishing away the new loose Opposition grouping, NASA, which is threatening to disrupt the UhuRuto Express as it moves toward 2022.

I am told of how foreign envoys had at some point sent diplomatic briefs to headquarters that a Jubilee-led government will rule until at least 2022 “in order for their governments to deal with government strategically and take care of their national interest.”

When former Secretary of State John Kerry came to Kenya last year, NASA was unheard of and it was clear to the public that the Opposition was not given any serious thought in spite of the fact that Mr Kerry met them.

When he held a press conference with President Uhuru Kenyatta and said that the US government will not interfere with the elections, the Opposition got the message that this time they were on their own.

Before that, President Barack Obama’s homecoming in 2015 ended with a cold disregard and dismissal of the Opposition. Two years later, it is easy to assume that the briefs hitting the mailboxes of the new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could be that the Kenyan election is not a done deal for UhuRuto after all.

But seriously, can the National Super Alliance (NASA) beat Jubilee in August? Some cold facts; the Opposition rarely beats a well-oiled ruling party machinery, at least in Africa. But a united Kenyan Opposition once did it in 2002. Others have done so lately in Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia. But even then, the stakes were stacked against them.

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In the 2002 case, the Opposition did not beat the incumbent but the heir to the incumbent. Now, they want to beat the incumbent. That incumbent was the man they beat in 2002. That means, they must be more serious as they were in 2002.

Indeed, the only way the Opposition can win is to create something greater than the 2002 scenario — something so compelling to create mass hysteria. To start with, let us ask ourselves; what are Kenyans yearning for? On top of my head I know they want affordable healthcare, assured security, food security, good education and infrastructure, cheap and reliable energy and generally a responsive public service. Those issues can only come out if well articulated in a movement.

In 2002, there was the Rainbow Coalition, some say the equivalent of NASA now. I have my doubts about that.

The country was also desperate for change; the object of aggression was Kanu and what it represented. NASA is yet to get this right. All you hear are discordant voices with no clear message to secure an outright win.

At times you sense the panic, at times you feel the energy and the hunger in the Opposition; sometimes nothing. Yes, nothing.

I haven’t seen the mass mobilisation we witnessed in 2002. Remember the palpable quest for change? It was everyone for all and all for one.

In terms of options, they have an option, or if you like, a winning formula. Forgive my cliché. Will they take the option?

It looks like that through pass Arsenal gave Chelsea in their last English Premier League encounter; a gift from the gods to their former player, Cesc Frabregas. So is it a gift or a curse? A gift remains a gift only if it is accepted. It, therefore, follows that a curse is a gift that hurts you. So what ails Kenya and which NASA strategists could use to advance their agenda as an alternative government?

There is general agreement that the economy is out of tinker; that most businesses are hemorrhaging leading to loss of jobs and disrupted livelihoods. Make no mistake, the Moi and Kibaki regimes had corruption, but we have moved from corruption to extortion typical of a gangsterism culture.

Everyone in town – from bigwigs in the national government to the local member of the county assembly — is busy creating policies to milk money from everyone. And another crop of tenderpreneurs are day and night devising ways to make a kill from doing business with the government.

This is made worse by the apparent lack of inclusivity in government. The cost of living is going up. And this state of a crisis can easily be turned into the object of aggression. Can the Opposition use this gift from the gods effectively?

Mark this; NASA luminaries cannot win by competing against one another. It reminds me of those who danced lame before the real dance begun. That is the risk NASA is getting into. The competition is UhuRuto. Period. Talking about who will be the flag bearer so often is dumb and wears the patience of the voters.

It is therefore time for them to bring the issues to the frontline. That makes a great deal of difference, the same way who says that matters.

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