Uhuru’s journey to the top: The highs and lows
Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the Tuesday, August 10 presidential election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Friday (August 11).
Uhuru, the son of Kenya’s founding father and first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta,successfully defended his seat on a Jubilee Party ticket.
Born on October 23, 1961, Uhuru’s elite roots sprouted from St. Mary’s School Nairobi in the late 1970s to working as a teller at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
His days as a teller translated to venturing into Wilham Kenya Ltd Company, which saw him export primary goods from the country after studying Economics and Political Science at Armherst College in the UK.
The incubation of his career was set after Kenya’s second President, Daniel Arap Moi, endorsed his KANU chairmanship in charge of Gatundu branch.
In 1997, he unsuccessfully contested for the Gatundu South Constituency parliamentary seat.
In 1999, he became the chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board, a parliament nominee, KANU vice chairman and Minister of local Government.
In 2002, Under Kenya African National Union (KANU), he contested for the presidency, facing off a worthy opponent, President Mwai Kibaki, a move that sparked controversy in KANU leading to defection of some key members.
However, Uhuru came second with 31% with Kibaki clinching the presidency with an overwhelming majority especially after Raila Odinga’s endorsement and the famous anecdote ‘Kiabki tosha’.
He (Uhuru) conceded defeat and committed to an opposition role, which gave him his first political annuity in 2005, after trouncing Nicholas Biwott for KANU chairmanship.
Successfully, Uhuru led his party to repeal the 2005 draft constitution. This was the dawning of the Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party, which was an amalgamation of KANU and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
In 2007, Uhuru supported President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election bid effectively marrying KANU to the Party of National Unity (PNU) to form a coalition. This merger ameliorated Kibaki’s appraisal, especially after Uhuru withdrew from the 2007 presidential election.
Again, history would have it that Uhuru and Odinga were on parallel sides with Uhuru drumming support for Kibaki’s re-election as Raila was contesting for the presidency.
In 2008, Uhuru was appointed Minister of Local Government before being appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and later Minister for Finance on January 23, 2009. This came after Opposition leader, Raila Odinga and PNU leader Kibaki settled for a coalition government.
During his tenancy, he refurbished the Treasury, initiating an Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) that came handy for the devolution government and also positioned an inclusion fund for the informal sector.
In 2012, Uhuru was charged with crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court alongside four others including his deputy, William Ruto, compelling him to step down from his ministerial post. They were accused of crimes against humanity following the 2007/08 Post Election Violence where 1,300 people were killed and over half a million others displaced.
Regardless of the ICC charges, Uhuru contended for the second time in 2013 and became Kenya’s fourth president in a Kenya’s most grueling race, garnering at least 6,173,433 votes (50.03%) against Raila’s 5,340,546 votes (43.4%), who vainly petitioned against the presidential results.
In 2015, ICC absolved President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, of the crimes against humanity due to insufficient evidence.
In his incumbency, Kenyatta came into presidency embodying as a digital president pledging to digitalise inbound and outbound relations between the government and civilians.
During his tenure, he became the most traveled Kenyan President earning a controversial title of a ‘tourist president’. As of late 2016, local dailies reported his travels out of the state to have clocked to over 50 trips on state budget.
His foreign relations was more robust than domestic relations, he focused more on multilateral and bilateral relations, attracting global summits and trade deals in the state inclusive of his attendance in the G7 Summit, and also partnering with the Chinese with the hopes of industrialising the economy.
His tenancy was also marked with an alarming number of corruption scandals that were mostly kept in check by opposition, including the National Youth Service (NYS) scam, the Rio scandal, Afya House scam, Standard Gauge Railway scam, and the Youth Fund scandal among others.
In spite the challenges, in 2014, Gallup ranked him as the third most approved President in Africa with 78% after presidents of Botswana and Mali.
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