He carved his niche in firebrand politics by criticising former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s every move, and barely four months ago was your typical — but rather loud — backbencher. But today Garissa Township MP Aden Duale is the senior-most legislator in the National Assembly and has a direct line to State House, thanks to his role of Majority Leader.
As a result of that simple fact, Duale now enjoys trappings of power equivalent to that of a Cabinet Secretary, complete with enhanced security detail.
Both inside and outside Parliament, he is loved and hated in equal measure. His enthusiastic defence of the Jubilee government in the House has endeared him to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, but also rubbed Cord MPs and a section of the public the wrong way as they see him as a latter-day Government hawk.
Knowing he is not loved across the board, Duale has attempted to defend himself, saying his duties are to push Government agenda in the House.
“Any government agenda brought to the floor of the House so far has sailed through,” he told the Nation.
And he has choice epithets for Mr Odinga, whom he says orchestrated his own downfall. “I knew Raila had lost the elections the moment he lost the Ruto-led brigade,” he chimes.
Even with the bile flowing, Duale still describes Raila as an astute politician who has been part of history-making in the country.
“He has made friends throughout the country,” he says. “He should now use his connections to serve our continent… he should be in the forefront advocating for peace in Somalia, Sudan and even Egypt.”
Defending the charge that he is dictatorial — made by some Jubilee MPs — Duale says: “I have 216 Jubilee MPs that I have to ensure speak with one voice, I must be tough for that to be achieved.”
A man who does not shy away from ostentation, Duale will do anything to prove he has unfettered access to State House.
“I often get calls from the President, just to tell me how grateful he is to me. He always tells me: Mheshimiwa Duale, shikilia hapo kabisa (Hon Duale, be strong on your side). He even calls to wish me a good night. I feel I am indeed part of the government.”
Marshalling parliamentary approval of presidential nominees has been his greatest challenge, but the biggest test was that of ensuring the nominee for the post of Solicitor General Njee Muturi sailed through.
“I came up with a tactic where I continuously spoke on the floor of the House as I waited for Jubilee members to file in,” he says of his strategy.
“As I did that, some MPs started accusing me of being out of order, but I knew what I saw doing. When I got sure Jubilee members were more than Cord’s in the House, I sat down.”
The stakes were so high that the President had to call him in the middle of the debate, probably because the nominee, Mr Muturi, is a long-time friend of Uhuru’s.
“The tension made me retreat to the back to receive a call from the President, who asked me whether all was well and if the name was going through,” remembers the fiery politician. “I assured him all was well.”
Duale says the appointment of 28 departmental committees also proved a mighty challenge for him.
“I had to hatch a plan where Jubilee chaired all of (the committees). There were instances where up to four Jubilee members fought over chairmanship of one committee, and I had to ensure not a single one went to Cord,” he says, adding that his connections in ODM have helped him woo members to pass government agenda.
So hard has this man fought for the presidency that he now has little time to visit his constituency.
“I have told the president to take care of my constituents by putting up roads, electricity and increase security as I defend his agenda in the House,” he wraps it up.
Source: Daily Nation – Kenya