Want to fi*l Raila’s huge sh*es? Walk in his footsteps

Monday, April 15th, 2024 05:30 | By
ODM Leader Raila Odinga
ODM Leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO/@RailaOdinga/X

The evolving political landscape in Kenya, characterized by Raila Odinga’s probable exit as ODM leader and his pursuit of the Africa Union Commission chairmanship, has significant implications for both ODM and the broader political landscape.

This shift presents an opportunity for emerging leaders to step up and prove their worth by championing the interests of ordinary citizens.

Raila’s larger-than-life stature in Kenyan politics means that no one person can fit his shoes whether in ODM, Azimio or as the foremost authoritative voice in Kenya politics.

Luminaries in ODM, including a few who have not been in the public domain for some time are out and hanging on Raila’s prominence. These are the folks who need to come out and assert themselves if they are leaders worth their salt.

In Luo Nyanza, conversations are rife that going forward it will not be business as usual for politicians seeking elective positions. No one will be there to lift hands and woe unto those who are not delivering .

As I write this, I am in Migori County and word down here is that this time round no one will be elected on the guise that they are going to help Raila. Baba will be in AUC and the help he will need will come from presidents, not MPs, senators and governors in Kenya.    

However, even if the AUC position means that he is out of the presidential contest, Raila’s political capital remains substantial and could play a pivotal role in rallying support for the Azimio coalition or whatever the next formation will be.

History tells us that with Raila’s support for another presidential candidate, the first interesting scenario is likely to be a higher voter turnout in his strongholds. This will be triggered by the many candidates within and outside ODM who will come out to seek votes for their respective parliamentary, gubernatorial and county assembly candidatures.

This is important for Azimio, because then Raila will need to use his political clout and national influence to ensure that at the national level, any new or old voter who comes out to vote, will vote for their own choices at the non-presidential level but go with the Azimio candidate at the presidential level. The crux for Azimio, therefore, is getting Baba’s clout and influence to rally his bloc of voters and the new voters in his strongholds to vote with Azimio at the national level.

Interestingly, the AUC and the new dispensation means that UDA will be out to leverage Raila’s clout to win a second term.

Kenya Kwanza is losing Mt Kenya faster than it can deliver on its promises and most hustlers are left to rue the betrayal by politicians who took them to UDA.

The ticket that took UDA to power, which seems like the 2027 default ticket, is struggling with attrition occasioned by the suffering of the masses, the high cost of living and the ineptitude of the UDA regime.

The realisation that this ticket needs to be evaluated in 2027 is probably the reason for the attempt to excite the masses in Mt Kenya by unleashing young leaders like Ndindi Nyoro and Kimani Ichung’wah, who are rattling Deputy President  Rigathi Gachagua.

But perhaps the most consequential attempt to get closer to the numbers they had in 2022 is the propping up of Musalia Mudavadi and the belief that by supporting Raila in his AUC quest, Western and Luo Nyanza will vote to some degree for whatever ticket UDA will unleash, possibly a ticket without Mt Kenya.

Critics argue that UDA will have to sell a refreshing alternative and accommodate the Mt Kenya region outside the presidency as their only hope to getting closer to retaining power.

Prime CS Mudavadi as the alternative and how that will rattle both Gachagua and Moses Wetang’ula is something that the KK leadership has to deal with as well as retaining Mt Kenya. Granted, Azimio and UDA will play with their cards close to their chest – maybe inside their chest – and the fight to keep Western in Azimio or win Western to compensate for what UDA is losing in Mt Kenya means that the running mate slot will be slated for a Luhya candidate.

Whoever will blink first is not known, but certainly for UDA, breaking away from the ticket that won the 2022 election will be disruptive and consequential and may determine where the bulk of the Mt Kenya votes will go.

—The writer is a PhD candidate in political communication

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