Inside Politics

End of his tether or tact? Gideon’s polls game plan

Thursday, March 17th, 2022 05:06 | By
Kanu chairman Gideon Moi. PD/file
Kanu chairman Gideon Moi. PD/File

Just like an eagle, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi seems to have decided to fly high in order to spot his prey on the ground without being noticed.

But unlike an eagle that is gifted with amazing eyesight that can see both within its vicinity as well several kilometres away, Gideon’s apparent failure to arouse his own Rift Valley backyard has raised eyebrows on whether the son of the late President Daniel arap Moi possesses the highly effective habits of a bird, whose indefatigable habits he aspires to follow.

Almost a year ago, Gideon had been touted as the only man in the Rift Valley with both the financial and political muscle to pose any threat to Deputy President  (DP)William Ruto’s forays in the vote-rich region.

But political analysts are now warning that 2022 could be Gideon’s decisive year in politics if he does not calculate and play his cards well, in line with the political environment.

“He seems to be making many gambles along the way that could end up being suicidal. To me, it appears he does not have any specific game plan,” says Dr Richard Bosire, a lecturer in political science at the University of Nairobi.

At one point, Gideon was among key politicians who were expected to shape the August 9 General Election after he announced his presidential candidature and thereafter formed the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) alongside Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Cyrus Jirongo (UDP) and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.

The 57-year-old politician is the son of the country’s second President Moi, who died in 2020. He led the country for 24 years, between 1978 and 2002. Gideon is the leader of the independence party Kenya Africa National Union (Kanu). Since 2013 he has been the senator for Baringo County in the Rift Valley.

Early this week, Kanu came out to end speculation about Gideon’s political future which had been the subject of debate in his home county when it declared that the senator would not be defending his seat in August elections but would instead concentrate on national politics.

This, coming days after the OKA coalition dropped plans to field a joint presidential candidate in favour of the Azimio La Umjoa flag-bearer Raila Odinga, left many wondering what Gideon’s game plan is as the General Election fast approaches. As a condition for joining Azimio, the senator is said to have negotiated a national role, if the coalition clinches power in the Augst 9 polls.

Consequently, Kanu has encouraged interested members to apply for the party ticket for the Baringo senatorial contest.

“First, l want to make it clear that Gideon Moi will not seek re-election in the August 9 polls because he is focused on national politics. In Baringo, Kanu welcomes any interested candidate to apply and use the party as their political vehicle in the General Election,” Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat told People Daily last evening.

But Salat was at pains to explain what may have compelled Gideon into taking the decision that has not only caused confusion within Kanu, but has clearly left Ruto as the undisputed Rift Valley political kingpin.

“We expect him to tell his Kanu supporters and all Kenyans in general why he has done that. He is better placed to explain it by himself because it was an individual decision,” Salat said.

Presidential candidate

Salat was, however, categorical that Kanu’s decision not to field a presidential candidate and instead support Raila, was final. Salat said the decision had been unanimously agreed upon by the party, leaving several unanswered questions on Gideon’s political future should Azimio fail to win on August 9 and Ruto, his perennial archenemy occupying the house on the hill.

But according to Bosire, Gideon’s decision not to vie for any seat in the coming elections has left him weak in terms of bargaining with other political players and marshalling support from the Rift Valley and his Baringo home county.

“In the public eye, he has been left as a man who has given up on everything. Though he remains the leader of Kanu, he has given the projection of being a toothless man. It was suicidal for him to drop his bid for the presidency and senate,” says Bosire.

With him dropping out of the two races, the don says, Gideon has been left with only two options.... Raila wins and incorporates him in his government, or Kanu wins enough seats in the National Assembly and Senate to have him nominated.

“Should Azimio not win in the next election and Kanu performs poorly in parliamentary polls, I see a situation where Gideon could be consigned to the political dustbin. And perhaps that could be the end of the Moi dynasty role in national politics at least in the near future,” Dr Bosire warns.

When he first announced his presidential bid, Gideon said he wanted to change the political tide in the Rift Valley to ensure the Kalenjin community remains politically relevant even after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s exit.

But pundits say Gideon seems to have given up on his desire to penetrate the Rift Valley, and sensing embarrassment in his own Baringo county, has decided to leave his fate in the hands of Raila’s Azimio.

Indeed, since Kanu’s entry into Azimio, Gideon and his party stalwarts have been traversing the country encouraging aspirants to vie on the independence party’s ticket.

“The anti-Ruto campaigns in the Rift Valley have been to his disadvantage because many in the region view him as a traitor. That is the reason he has retreated and decided to launch his arsenal from constituencies outside the region,” says Dr Oscar Otele of the University of Nairobi.

Sources intimated to People Daily that Kanu seems to have concentrated its efforts and resources in Azimio strongholds that Gideon’s father used to enjoy good support.

The party has been encouraging aspirants from areas such as the North Eastern, Gusii, Western, Lower Eastern and Coast to vie on its ticket.

Other pundits warn that this could still be a herculean task, given the fact that the networks the late Moi established in many parts of the country have largely disintegrated with party stalwarts having either died or those still living having joined other political parties.

Exactly two years since Gideon was handed a replica of the baton that was synonymous with his father’s 24-years rule, signifying the unenviable responsibility to not only revive Kanu, but to restore it to the giant it once was, the outgoing Baringo senator seems to have left all guessing over the direction he is headed to.

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