Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Obama’s One Day Visit To Kenya Will Cost Sh5.7 Billion

Obama and MichellePRESIDENT Barack Obama’s July trip to Kenya will cost US taxpayers a staggering Sh5.7 billion, almost equivalent to the Kenya government’s annual allocation to Nakuru county.

The cost of the trip has been worked out by influential US commentators who have asked Obama to call off the safari, because “it is too costly for nothing”.

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It is understood that Obama will be in Kenya for just a day.

Professor Robert Rotberg, a respected US governance and foreign affairs scholar, maintained that America will be compelled to fork out the billions to mount massive security because of the al Shabaab threat in Kenya.

“Guarding President Obama in today’s Kenya will cost approximately $60 million,” Rotberg predicted in a hard-hitting commentary aimed at dissuading him from visiting Kenya. It was headlined, “Going to Kenya Is a Dumb Idea, Mr President”.

When the US President travels, the White House travels with him, from the cars he rides in, to the water he drinks, the gasoline he uses and the food he eats.

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Ahead of his visit is a contingent of Secret Service personnel, some of who are already in the country weeks before Obama arrives for a day’s visit.

When the President does finally land in Nairobi, he will do so on Air Force one, plus a massive entourage and a motorcade of armour-plated vehicles. These include the president’s bulletproof limo, known simply as The Beast, a military ambulance and communications vans packed with state-of-the art high tech devices.

Around 250 heavily armed Secret Service agents, dozens of advisers and teams of sniffer dogs will escort Obama to Kenya in addition to White House cooks.

Obama’s movements during foreign trips are choreographed down to the minutest detail – by the US Secret Service and other agencies.

Yesterday, George Musamali, a Kenyan security expert, put the cost of the Obama’s visit – thought to be about eight hours – at approximately Sh10 billion.

“The Americans will take no chances. They will put their best foot forward to protect their President,” Musamali said.

The advance team comprising for Obama’s visit last week took charge of Secretary of State John Kerry’s security, with Kenyan forces playing only a peripheral role.

But Rotberg criticised Obama’s trip to Kenya as lowering the dignity of his office and conferring legitimacy on Kenya’s corrupt leadership.

In a an op-ed for Politico, a political journalism publication with an online presence, Rotberg sensationally maintained that Obama’s visit will stoke ethnic divisions within the country and endanger his own life.

Rotberg observed that, despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case being dropped at The Hague, the global court is still pursuing Deputy President William Ruto.

“Does President Obama really want to be forced, inevitably, to be the state guest of a country where the sitting president and vice-president, his hosts, have been indicted by the International Criminal Court?” Rotberg wrote in the respected US magazine, one of whose slogans is, “All Politics is Local”.

“Does President Obama truly seek to shake their hands, officially? How could he, and the United States avoid being compromised diplomatically and our promotion of human rights globally sullied?”

The commentary, which is likely to irritate Jubilee’s presidential and foreign affairs strategists, argues that Obama should postpone his historic trip to Kenya until after he leaves the White House.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Kenya last week.

But the top US diplomat did not meet Ruto on his two-day trip, with diplomatic sources hinting that Obama too may snub the DP over his ICC charges.

Rotberg termed Kenya “wildly corrupt”.

“Conferring the honor of President Obama’s office on such thoroughly questionable leaders would do little to strengthen our own role as a promoter of good governance and the rule of law,” he said.

Rotberg also argued, “President Obama naturally and appropriately will want to visit his paternal homestead in the Luo heartland. But traveling there will plunge the American president deeply into ethnic politics in Kenya, and do nothing for inter-group harmony in that volatile country”.


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