Inside Politics

Elevation thrusts Tuju to the heart of Raila’s campaign

Thursday, April 7th, 2022 02:00 | By
Former Jubilee Secretary Raphael Tuju addresses a press conference at Jubilee Party headquarters in Pangani. PHOTO/File

Through his elevation as the Executive Director of the Azimio la Umoja coalition yesterday, former Jubilee Secretary Raphael Tuju has been thrust at the centre of a huge task of managing and coordinating all the 23 parties which form the entity former Prime Minister Raila Odinga will use as his presidential campaign vehicle.

Tuju, a former MP and Cabinet Secretary, who relinquished his leadership position in February when President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked off an ambitious campaign to rebrand and rejuvenate the ruling party whose fortunes had dwindled effectively carries the burden of managing officials in all the parties to ensure they work peacefully in favour of Raila.

Key responsibilities in his tray, according to sources is managing how the parties within the coalition field candidates to avoid sibling rivalries in areas that have emerged as battlegrounds, notably in western Kenya where Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa’s Democratic Action Party are wrangling.

His administrative skills will also be under the test in Nairobi and Kajiado where ODM and Jubilee have their own governor, senator and MPs aspirants.

“Tuju’s main task is to oversee how parties under the Azimio la Umoja will relate and co-exist, particularly in the fielding of candidates to avoid sibling rivalry,” a highly placed source privy to the thoughts behind Tuju’s appointment told People Daily.

While announcing the appointment of the former Cabinet Secretary without portfolio, Raila’s press secretary Dennis Onyango said :”As Executive Director, Hon Tuju will coordinate all member parties of Azimio and will lead the strategic and programme teams that will work to ensure Azimio victory in the August elections.”

This will be the third time Tuju , a former broadcaster who rose to become a minister and holds a Masters of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester, UK, will be playing a critical role in Raila’s presidential campaign.

In 2017, Tuju headed Uhuru’s campaign team, an appointment viewed as a deliberate intention to stem the infighting that pitted officials of the president’s defunct The National Alliance and his estranged deputy William Ruto’s United Democratic Party (URP).

At the time, Jubilee, which was created following the merger of 12 political parties, was experiencing wrangles as officials of the entities fought for control of its leadership and by extension the the presidential campaign team, forcing Uhuru to tap the former Rarieda MP, then an outsider, to manage the rivalry.

Tuju was also expected to give a national look to the team that  was tasked with planning and organising party meetings and rallies to explain Jubilee agenda

He is also reported to have played a key role in retired President Mwai Kibaki’s election in 2002 as head of the communication wing of the campaign team.

Political engagements

Initially, after quitting his party position to pursue what he termed as other political engagements, Tuju had been expected to contest for a political seat in either Nairobi or Siaya.

Through the appointment which took effect immediately, Tuju who is credited for his political experience and diplomatic approach to matters having  served as Special Envoy of President Kibaki on various missions between 2008 and 2012, joined a team of technocrats, experienced politicians and businessmen who Raila will be depending on in strategizing and spearheading the his presidential campaign.

Part of the designers of the planned Azimio la Umoja coalition have been mulling zoning regions and exclusively leaving them to the partner political parties depending on their respective strength to avoid sibling rivalry in areas that are emerging as battlegrounds without hurting each other.

The proposal of zoning has faced resistance from a section of the parties .

The move follows concerns that the coalition could find itself fielding several candidates in a single electoral area and split their support in favour of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which has vowed to face the poll united.

The coalition brings together over 20 political parties among them Raila’s ODM , Jubilee, Wiper, Party of National Unity associated with Agriculture minister Peter Munya , Ubuntu People’s Forum of Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui (but who is defending his seat on Jubilee ticket), Devolution Empowerment Party belonging to Governor Kiraitu Murungi and National Ordinary People Empowered Union (NOPEU) associated with EALA MP Mpuru Aburi.Also in the outfit are Kenya Union Party of West Pokot Governor Prof John Lonyang’apuo, Pan African Alliance of Governors Amason Kingi of Kilifi, Defense CS Eugene Wamalwa’s Democratic Action Party, National Rainbow Coalition of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Maendeleo Chap Chap headed by Alfred Mutua (Machakos) while in North eastern region has Frontier Alliance party of Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Economic Freedom Party and Kenya Patriotic Party.

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