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Kenyan Presidential Elections and Seven Lessons for Nigeria

Kenyan Presidential Elections and Seven Lessons for Nigeria

Kenyan Presidential Elections and Seven Lessons for Nigeria

General elections was held in Kenya on 9 August 2022. Voters elected the President, members of the National Assembly and Senate, county governors of Kenya and members of the 47 county assemblies of Kenya. William Ruto was elected President of Kenya, defeating Raila Odinga.

General elections in Kenya are held every five years. This was the third general election and the fourth presidential one since the promulgation of the 2010 constitution. The incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta was not eligible for a third term, nor were two-term county governors as stated by the country’s laws. The 2022 general election saw the lowest number of presidential candidates cleared since the multi-party system was implemented in 1992. All parliamentarians elected will sit in the 13th Parliament of Kenya.

Deputy President, William Ruto has won the Kenyan Presidential Election with over 50% votes despite falling out with incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta who decided to back his longtime rival, Raila Odinga to spite Mr. Ruto.

The electoral outcome has some lessons for Nigeria. We shall summarize seven of them below:

Lesson 1: Having influential Godfathers with power of incumbency can no longer guarantee electoral success. Raila Odinga lost the election.

Lesson 2: Political alliances of old foes are now viewed with suspicion by today’s electorates in Africa unlike what obtained in the past. Odinga was a bitter rib and critic of President Kenyatta. People saw them in their new alliance as strange bed fellows.

Lesson 3: Money politics and corruption have ruled Kenyan politics over the years. However, abject poverty, high youth unemployment, untold hardship and unfulfilled promises have woken the masses from political slumber to reject money and vote wisely.

Lesson 4: The Social Media was very powerful in swinging the victory to the side of Mr. Ruto. Those who still underrate the power of Social Media in modern African politics should have a rethink.

Lesson 5: Age has become a key factor in African politics. Voters are now rejecting old, recycled candidates in preference for youthfulness. At 55, Ruto was the youngest of the 4 major contestants. He defeated the older and much experienced Raila Odinga who is 77 and a former Prime Minister. The other two major candidates are also in their 60s.

Lesson 6: Contesting several times does not guarantee victory for a candidate in future election. Raila Odinga contested 5 times (between 1997 to 2022) and lost all. He lost to Kibaki, Kenyatta and now Ruto. (A lesson for Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria)

Lesson 7: Ethnicity is becoming a secondary consideration in Sub-Saharan African politics. Kenyatta is from the dominant tribe, Kikuyu. He played the ethnic card to try and secure victory for Odinga who is a Luo but the people are more interested in honesty and competence than tribal considerations.

We hope the Nigerian electorates will be wiser as the country gets set for the all-important 2023 Presidential Elections.

By Charles Nwadigwe

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