Politics and money: Kenya moves the speed dial and Nigeria confronts

It has been a good week in Africa both East and West. The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy which in the last few years risked becoming a glorified ineffectual talking shop, has successfully held a presidential election. President Jonathan Goodluck has fallen on hard luck and elevated himself to statesmanship a distinguished status that pays off for decades congratulating former President Gen Mohammed Buhari on his victory in last week’s general election. Nigeria has a glossy PR image managed by continental handlers, a burgeoning middle class but also the biggest concentration of Africa’s poor. Boko Haram’s mayhem in the northern states of Kano, Maiduguri and others have illustrated the perils of countries that aance on the false premise that institutionalises one track for the privileged and another track for the rest of society. For a moment it appeared that one of Africa’s largest militaries could not even sustain a response to Boko Haram.

Nigeria flew in foreign mercenaries to help and ended up paying its poorer neighbour Chad to bolster the fight. Falling oil prices and capital flight have put pressure on the Nigerian bourse and public finances such is the reality of global markets. The new Nigerian president will have a lot on his hands and addressing the quintessential African problem whether African economies can aance without both a modern agricultural sector and industrial sector. Both of these are non-existent in new Africa littered with beautiful highways and little or no high value production moving out. The taxman finds himself anchored on just hundreds of thousands of people in the entire population day and night and as was the case in Nigeria hoping for the best on the world crude oil market.

Next door in the Republic of Kenya, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta a title holder of the Mr Congeniality Crown, he always wears a broad smile in the public submitted a list of shame with more than 170 public officials to the Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly. The lists are yet to be tabled in the two Houses cover the largest broadside in Kenya’s sputtering war on graft ever. Mr Kenyatta’s list covers both those in government and in the Opposition. It covers ministers, permanent secretaries, governors all the way down to Members of Parliament. Politicians spent the weekend finding out who was on the list. Skeptics including cabinet officials dragging their feet received marching orders from State House. Integrity House the home of Anti-Corruption Commission has been rocking hard as the noose began to tighten. In an image for the generations, even the landlord a company associated with former Kenyan supremo Nicholas Kiprono Kipyator Biwott served their anchor tenant with an eviction notice. At one the EACC Chair and his accounting officer were serving each other for dinner. Kenyans have been treated to a lot of drama starting with revelations that some of their elected leaders and businessmen are drug mules. Even by the low standards the MPs have set for themselves, there was one new revelation every day.

Irony of ironies the voice of the voiceless former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is croaking himself hoarse against the list. Kenyatta’s toughest critics including Governor Isaac Ruto (no relation to the Deputy President) made the list as did KIU alumnus Mombasa Governor Isaac Joho. Ugandans not used to the game of numbers will be shocked at how rich the Kenyan political system is or flush with cash. Even on the Standard Gauge Railway where billions disappeared, the rails are already on the ground. The handbag lady Lands Secretary Charity Ngilu after reorganizing the registry is accused in one instance of negotiating a small handshake of about $ 1 million. As things go, there are some petty allegations, Agriculture Secretary Felix Koskei has big and small ones but innocent ones again, he cultivated maize on 100 acres belonging to the Government.
Mr Ssemogerere is an attorney and counselor-at-Law, New York Aocate, Courts of Judicature, Uganda. kssemoge@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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