BY JACOB OKETCH
Recent political happenings in the country indicate that leaders have started to position themselves for the 2022 presidential elections. A new alliance comprising ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetangula and KANU supremo Gideon Moi has emerged. It is believed to have the tacit support of state functionaries.
This alliance is largely a group of politicians who honed their skills under the tutelage of the late retired President Daniel Arap Moi. Given that President Uhuru Kenyatta too came from this mould – it gives us an understanding of why he may be inclined to support this group. Going by the countrywide tours that the group had embarked on before being halted by the lockdown, the mission was very clear – to capture the attention of the nation in readiness for the forthcoming presidential polls.
Earlier, the President convened a meeting of the quartet but also included ODM leader Raila Odinga and NARC leader Charity Ngilu.There have been talks of a scheme by a section of the President’s handlers to frustrate and isolate Raila Odinga ahead of the elections. That could be a bad idea. In any case, the agreement between Raila and President Kenyatta sets him apart from the other contenders since he is a principal in the pact. Those who are of the view that the BBI Bill can go to the referendum with or without Mr Odinga do not know what they are talking about. Hijacking the process from the ODM leader is unfathomable to say the least.
At the same time, there is the view that President Kenyatta seems to have grown lukewarm toward the whole idea of the referendum. The BBI process has taken three years now and in the process, the president has reorganized his team arising from his fallout with his deputy. Who in his right mind thinks that the President can just abruptly abandon the course he has taken for the last three years?
And to the sacred alliance brigade, waiting for an endorsement from President Uhuru Kenyatta could be a bad idea. In fact, if I were the President, I would steer clear of endorsing anyone. Furthermore, if there is any leader among them who thinks it will be easy to isolate Mr Odinga from the centre of attention, let him think again. The kind of support the ODM leader is according the President in Parliament is crucial and cannot be mitigated by the four leaders combined due to their low numbers in both Houses of Parliamet. Hence, there is need for caution on how the alliance navigates its relationship with the President without antagonizing the ODM leader.
Even looking at the alliance’s contribution to the BBI drive, one wonders why a guy like Gideon Moi – who could not even marshal his own country to support the Bill – can contemplate isolating the key proponent of the drive. That would amount to sabotaging the President’s overall mission for the sake of fronting for succession.
The western Kenya leaders in the alliance – Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetangula have to once and for all – agree to unite so as to galvanize the Luhya vote. One of them must unequivocally support the other for the presidency. They have to contend with the fact that their rival, Mr Odinga has considerable support from the region and their piece meal efforts at unity will only embolden him to enlarge his support from the region. It would be foolhardy to scheme on how to isolate Mr Odinga from the high table when they haven’t secured total support from their own backyard. Remember that Dr Mukhisa Kituyi who has announced his candidacy for presidency also comes from the region
And then there is the possibility of the unthinkable happening. The rumour mill about an elaborate plan to isolate Mr Odinga must worry President Kenyatta. Given the zeal with which the President has championed the BBI cause – it is almost inconceivable for the him to abandon the process midstream since it is an important pillar of his legacy. He must not allow state mandarins to create a rift between him and the ODM boss. The consequence of such a split might herald the reunion of Odinga and the Deputy President Dr William Ruto.
Out of all the contestants, Mr Odinga is the most experienced having vied for the presidency three times and also having served as the country’s prime minister. It is only the DP who can match Raila’s energy. Just before he contracted covid 19 recently, Mr Odinga had been on a whirlwind tour of the coast for five days, an undertaking that is daunting even for youthful leaders. The DP has the same kind of energy. A combination of the two would beat any formation hands down.
It would be naïve to think that Mr Odinga’s isolation due to covid 19 has slowed his political activities. Far reaching consultations must be going on behind the scenes. The sacred alliance leaders must be ready for the fiercest political battle of their lives. The Deputy President is also assembling his arsenal for the presidential campaign. A slight wrong move could have far reaching consequences for any of the contenders. Though it is too early to clearly tell who will be where, the game has started in earnest and what happens now will decide how the political formations will look like.
The writer is the author of Aphorisms and Poems of Light