Raila forms top council to drive Azimio’s quest
Former Head of Public Service Sally Kosgei and media mogul SK Macharia are among the seven-member exclusive club set to play a pivotal role in the Azimio La Umoja presidential aspirant Raila Odinga’s campaigns.
The seven-member club of Raila’s inner circle, dubbed the Advisory Council, is the equivalent of the 2007 Pentagon team and is expected to work on a grand manifesto and a winning strategy to marshal support across the country for the ODM leader.
Other members of the council that will be chaired by Raila himself, include Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Prof Makau Mutua, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and former Speaker of the National Assembly Francis ole Kaparo.
The council will be the top decision making body and will sieve decisions made by the campaign board.
“The Advisory Council will be the politburo and its decisions will be final. The board will report to this council,” a source at the secretariat told ‘People Daily’.
Unlike Raila’s 2007 Pentagon comprising Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi, Joe Nyagah and William Ruto that traversed the country campaigning for the presidential candidate, this team will play the role of a “war council” by remaining invisible and only making key decisions.
Only a few members of the council may join Raila in campaigns across the country, according to a highly-placed source in the Raila campaign.
And just like President Mwai Kibaki’s 2002 Narc Summit that spearheaded his election, one of the primary mandates of the advisory council will be to mediate between partner parties under Azimio la Umoja to forestall fallouts.
Analysts say the inclusion of Dr Kosgei, who played a pivotal role in former President Daniel arap Moi’s government, is a clear indication that Raila is keen on building on the successes of former governments as well as relying on experience.
The former Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet packs an impressive curriculum vitae. A career civil servant who rose to the top of her profession, she is credited with being the steward of the reforms initiated during her tenure spanning between 2001 and 2003, bridging both the presidencies of Moi and Kibaki.
Once the most powerful woman in Kenya, she has a reputation for thoroughness and boasts vast regional and international networks. During the coalition government, Kosgei, who was then Aldai MP, also served as Agriculture Minister.
Monitor campaign funds
By settling on Macharia, his long-time friend and a representative of the Mount Kenya Foundation (MKF), Raila appears determined to bestow upon him the responsibility to mobilise and monitor deployment of campaign funds from the organisation that brings together business tycoons from Central Kenya.
Other prominent members of the MKF that have publicly supported his bid include Equity Bank founder Peter Munga, former minister George Muhoho, former KRA boss Michael Waweru and business mogul Paul Ngugi.
Raila also appointed three prominent university professors and his long-time aide, Paul Mwangi, to drive and shape his campaign and policy agenda.
Headed by distinguished America-based law lecturer, Prof Makau Mutua, who will also double up as the spokesperson of the Raila Odinga Campaign, the four members of the Raila Think Tank would be charged with the responsibility to formulate the ODM leader’s political strategy.
Other members of the team are political scientists Prof Peter Wanyande, Prof Karuti Kanyinga, and Mwangi.
Sources at Chungwa Centre, Raila’s campaign headquarters, intimated to ‘People Daily’ that the Think Tank’s main role would be to craft and implement his 10-point manifesto in his quest for the top seat.
Names of the Think Tank were unveiled as it emerged that Raila has also whittled down the number of members of the Presidential Campaign Board from 25 to 17.
Mombasa Governor and ODM deputy party leader Ali Hassan Joho will be a member of the board that is chaired by Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi.
Other members of the campaign board include Journal of Academy of Business and Economics managing director Betty Montet, former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner in Charge of Domestic Tax Elizabeth Meyo, who remains as the CEO of the Secretariat, Seth Kakusye, advocate Kanchory Saitaboi, National Gender and Equality Commissioner Priscilla Nyokabi and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.
Sources said the board had been whittled down to 17 to make it more manageable and efficient in its operations.
The board will have sweeping powers to manage the campaign, fundraise, hire and fire staff, and manage logistics.
Ms Meyo, who now relinquishes her mandate as the campaign spokesperson to Prof Mutua, will implement the board’s strategic decisions, head the campaign secretariat and make all vital decisions.
The 17-member board will be the backbone of the Raila campaign blueprint, and will, in the end, craft a manifesto after meetings with regional representatives.
Yesterday, ODM chairman John Mbadi said Raila was leaving nothing to chance as he crafts a strong team that will help him capture the country’s top seat.
Announcing the appointment of Prof Makau as the head of the Think Tank on Tuesday evening, Raila — who is making his fifth stab at the presidency — praised him as a “reform-minded scholar.”
Fierce critic of Ruto
The 64-year-old Kenyan-American professor at SUNY Buffalo School of Law, who was the school’s dean from 2008-2014, is a fierce critic of Deputy President William Ruto — Raila’s main challenger.
“Mutua served as dean from 2007-2014 and has been a professor in Buffalo since 1996. He teaches human rights, international law and international business transactions,” reads part of Raila’s statement following the appointment.
According to the statement, Mutua was the associate director of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Programme at Harvard University from 1991 to 1996 and his appointment follows the redesignation of journalist Dennis Onsarigo as the press secretary of Odinga’s presidential campaign secretariat.
Mwangi, the author of ‘The Black Bar: Corruption and Political Intrigues Within Kenya’s Legal Fraternity’, is the legal adviser to Raila, and was one of the pillars of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The professionals will be mandated with fine-tuning Raila’s legal, political and economic messages that resonate well with the voters.
“We must think not with our hearts but our heads and we must look at the histories of the candidates presenting themselves. I can tell you there’s no competition. It is not even close. If it was a football match it would end in 50 minutes,” Mutua said in his address at the Azimo la Umoja convention in December 2021.
with his research and publications including seminal work on: Ethnicity and development; devolution and development; and electoral ics and development.
“This is in addition to commissioned studies on governance, justice, law and order sector reforms. The publications include: Kanyinga, Karuti (2016). Devolution and New ics of Development in Kenya,” his profile, according to the University of Nairobi website, states.
Prof Wanyande, a University of Nairobi (UoN) don, who has never been shy of speaking his mind, weighing in on national conversations and participating in reforms such as the implementation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, is currently one of the brains and visionaries behind Raila’s 2022 agenda.
Raila has also included in his campaign board lawyers, ical scientists and icians.
The professionals will be mandated with fine-tuning Raila’s legal, ical and economic messages that resonate well with the voters.
Mwangi, the author of The Black Bar: Corruption and ical Intrigues Within Kenya’s Legal Fraternity, is the legal adviser to Raila, one of the pillars of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Alongside Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, Martin Kimani, Mwangi was the joint secretary of the BBI secretariat chaired by the late Garissa Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji that went around the country collecting views from Kenyans on proposed constitutional changes.