Voters must vet presidential aspirants critically

Monday, January 3rd, 2022 01:00 | By
IEBC officials register voters during a past listing exercise. PHOTO/Courtesy

The year 2021 was characterised by intense campaigns and we can only speculate on what to expect this year.

Will the trend of sloganeering, catch phrases and flaunting of big numbers in political rallies continue?

And will the hubris of politicians looking for elective positions continue giving a clique of presidential candidates, with little beyond their tribal support, the illusion that they can win the presidency?

Granted, there are presidential candidates, who from the onset stand no chance of winning, but certainly would have some sway on who  wins.

These presidential candidates are probably still in it because their loudest praise singers are mostly gubernatorial candidates who understand the sway that local politics has and the extent to which it can create that wave that propels them to victory when their tribal political leader is a presidential candidate. 

Interestingly, a variety of political candidates might be good in a democracy, but not always.

The downside of many players in the presidential race is dearth of robust evaluation of each.

Some will come back to the electorate with promises of delivering the very same things that they have failed to deliver with the power they were given five years ago.

Others will move around criticising the government with very little substance.

They will leverage on the fact that most regimes in democracies are evaluated on perceived failures. 

Consequently, in the next eight months, we will have fairly little time to critically evaluate the top contenders and that would be a field day for the political class.

Some of the top contenders are not interested in issues bedevilling the country but are interested in creating a wave and showing all and sundry that they have numbers. 

A recent tour of the coastal region, for instance, drew fairly ferocious responses to the Deputy President, who after serving as the DP for two terms was still lamenting the government’s neglect of the region.

The veracity of what the DP said and the hard tackles from both Governor Charity Ngilu and Amason Kingi notwithstanding, the recent developments need to be put in context.

The proclivity for such attacks on the government and the lofty promises will be big in the campaign trails and the aim will always be to rally political leaders and create a political bandwagon and the attendant illusion of a winning side; critical evaluation of the sides credentials and promises notwithstanding.

Interesting to note is the fact that while the coastal people were treated to more promises, the government in its vision of delivering on the pillars of the Big 4 agenda launched yet another project anchored on the blue economy. 

The economic gains of having such a facility cannot be gainsaid, especially with the opening of the Lamu Port and Kenya’s geopolitical significance in the East and Central Africa region.

These economic activities will certainly benefit the coastal people for many years to come. 

One would expect that agile politicians would anchor their campaigns on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s grand infrastructural projects in the region and articulate how they will leverage on such projects in the interest of the people.

Such a strategy would not only endear them to President Uhuru’s constituency, but also give the voters a bigger picture of continuity and hope that these grand projects portend a brighter future for them.

Hope wins elections, but lamentations and repeated promises cultivate a culture of negative political advertising, propaganda and a toxic culture that allows politicians get away with lofty promises that are rarely fulfilled.  

As we enter the election year, promises will abound. Kenyans need not be hoodwinked by the bandwagon effect; it should not be about a conglomeration of leaders, but a coming together of like-minded leaders with a demonstrable track record and clear cut roadmap on how they will address the plight of the majority poor. 

Defections between the months of February and the elections will cause shockwaves, but Kenyans must ask questions and evaluate the top presidential candidates regardless of who they have in their team. [email protected]

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