Pointers on how to pick the best for State House

William Ruto and Raila Odinga

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It is estimated that 47 people will potentially run for the presidential seat this year. There will be some obvious front runners, as well as some interesting newcomers, who should make the race interesting for the Kenyan voter.

It would be good for Kenyans to closely examine any person who chooses this race, as our collective participation in this process will determine our national leadership over the next five years.

The first thing to assess would be the aspirants’ history of working for and among Kenyans in different fields and capacities. Public service may be official while working for the government, but a history of direct grassroots engagement would mean that a presidential candidate is in touch with the actual issues and concerns facing the diverse demographics of Kenyans. It would, therefore, be imperative to have this groundedness before being elected.

General practice after elections means that presidents are forever protected from seeing the active disrepair and dilapidation the citizen encounters daily. As such, having a clear view of this would give citizens confidence in a candidate’s intent to bring about change.

Solving conflict

The second thing would be the running mate. He or she should ideally complement and strengthen a presidential candidate’s national agenda. Such a candidate should ideally differ from the presidential candidate themselves in gender, tribe and more, to reflect our population's diversity.

Important to note would be the history of the individuals in solving conflict, not just with each other, but in the broader context within which Kenya exists. Kenyans need a president who is able to work consistently with their chosen deputy, not just to appear to be in harmony during the campaigns, or sound slick and amusing during debates, but also when it comes to getting down to business after winning the polls.

A third matter to consider would be the manifesto, which should go beyond beautiful ideas to explain how the two can be held accountable tangibly.

Many campaigns have in the past fronted ambitious and flowery reflections to dazzle Kenyans. Candidates so marketed have been voted into office from the county to the national level, yet very few have actually delivered.

It will be important going forward to exit from this forest of false promises into the practicalities of honesty and truth.

This will be an exciting month for Kenya as we imagine new outcomes for the nation going forward. A solid presidency is a key part of that democratic vision, which is what we jointly opted for in 2010 when we chose our current constitution.

As such, Kenyans will be keeping an eye on the presidential race from the very start, as the steps towards our future will begin long before Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

Ms Okore is a policy analyst. [email protected]

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