Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The famous handshake: It’s economics, stupid!

Uhuru and Raila During the Handshake
If Anhui Construction Company of China bids and wins the contract for the construction of the proposed second runway at JKIA, then, Economics will be the real reason for the Uhuru-Raila amity.  The company was the winner of the bid to construct the now moribund US$656 million Greenfield terminal at JKIA.
And that project was one of the two mega projects that Jimmi Wanjigi had brokered, the other being the Standard Gauge Railway.  Both projects slipped through his fingers during the Uhuru Kenyatta administration, a loss that so angered him that he swore to bring down the Uhuru administration. He thus threw his weight -and finances- behind Raila Odinga’s ODM, becoming the financier.
 However, that was a bad gamble for all his efforts to bring down the Jubilee administration came to naught. And even as he funded “operation bring Jubilee down,” the administration was slowly tightening the noose around his neck.
For five years, he never brokered any significant deal, legally or otherwise. It was a prolonged drought for him. And since NASA- which he midwifed-never made it to State House, he faced another five years of drought-longer than even the biblical seven years of famine faced in Egypt during Joseph’s days.
 Raila, on the other hand, had promised Jimmi some lucrative contracts, worth some Kshs 2.27 trillion. Among these are the airport's expansion and housing projects. Failure to deliver on these, Raila was to reimburse Jimmi some Kshs10 billion used for his Presidential Campaign plus interest- money the former does not have. And since he was not the tenant at State House, he had no way of paying.
Any astute businessman cuts his losses by either letting go of unnecessary baggage or abandoning some projects.  
Jimmi chose to cut losses and do some business. And he said as much in his Twitter handle on March 10.Among other things, he said "Astute Businessmen have Permanent interests, not Permanent enemies"  A lot was at stake: All major constructions contracts in this country will be implemented during Uhuru’s tenancy at stake House as part of his "big four" agenda. That meant that even if Raila won in 2022, there will be nothing left for Jimmi. He had to move fast. 

What a finer way than to force an amity that could pave the way for him to do business? Anarchy was draining his resources with no viable source to replenish them.

The second runway at JKIA is estimated to cost almost what the Greenfield terminal cost –in the upwards of US$356 million. A ten percent cut comes to US$36 million, a huge plug on the hole punctured by political campaigns- and that from only one project! Two more of that magnitude in the next five years and he would be back where he was, if not ahead. So why not let go and move on? Add a few housing projects to the bargain and the dividends of an armistice were mouth -watering.

The old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. So JW the "father of political patronage" decided to follow his “permanent interest”- making money by embracing his old foe, Uhuru Kenyatta. Here, JW was smart.

All he needed was to order his troops “to ceasefire and offer the Olive branch.” The result: armistice! All guns silent. Suddenly everything that NASA stood for – Resist, Secession, NRM, People’s Assemblies, People’s President, evaporated. We are back to abnormal- No strikes, No street demos, no bloodshed, nothing. That is the abnormal Kenya.

 Only JW can achieve that, after all, he bankrolled the troops and all he needed was to call back his debt and they all go on their knees like the biblical slave. Jimmi is credited for cobbling together NASA, an amalgamation of disparate tribal chiefs glued together by their ambition to occupy the house on the hill. By cobbling them together, he hoped they can marshal sufficient numbers to oust the current tenant.
They failed and were likely to drag him down with them. And only he could offer them –and himself-a lifeline.
JW: When Police Paid him a courtesy call
 For Uhuru, such that was a heaven send opportunity he could not let pass. He has his "Big Four" agenda which he hopes will be his legacy particularly building one million houses and building roads and railways. The Ceasefire presented him with an opportunity to deliver on his promises with little disruption. So what the Heck. Shake the devil’s hand and get down to business!
To deliver on his promises, he needs even the devil to play his part. Some of these guys can mobilize resources from somewhere to do some of the projects. So why not let them do it? Astute presidents don’t have permanent enemies, only interests. Here was a congruence of interests, a proper fit. We are all Kenyans so let’s develop our country, let each bring his peg to do that. Bingo! An armistice was born!
 For the hustler, this was his game. Ever the schemer, the son of a peasant from Sugoi has his road to the House on the Hill paved with gold.  For the next five years, he shall traverse the country, cobble together his team without some hooligans throwing stones at him. It is his to lose.
 Where does that leave the country? The first thing to die was the exclusion mantra. Now infrastructure projects-  10,000 Kms of roads,  some 600Km of a railway line, ports, 57 water dams, one million new affordable houses, can be built anywhere in Kenya without political sabotage. Construction of infrastructure is one of the most inclusive investments. It not only creates direct jobs, it also removes barriers to personal and community development. All weather roads, for instance, bring far away markets near.
Businessmen make profits and create more jobs. So if the 10,000Km road network is developed in the next five years, they will create jobs for all and sundry. This is the time for us all to eat. Kenya may live to cherish that handshake at Harambee house last Friday for a long time as the economy picks the cue and steams ahead.
 Should we expect to hit 10 percent GDP growth rate by 2022?  Only time will tell. But don’t be surprised if you found yourself there.


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