Recalling the drama and high-voltage pressure that OKA showcased before it died a natural death
They had fashioned themselves as a possible third force in the August presidential race which, from the onset, had been dominated by Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but after several months of meetings and few rallies, the outfit has crumbled after its co-principals decided to go in opposite directions.
Amani National Congress boss Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka and Senators Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), and Gideon Moi (Baringo) went on to court other politicians with a view to making the alliance dubbed One Kenya Alliance (OKA), a formidable force.
The leaders, who had vowed not to join Ruto or Raila camps, with Kalonzo gushing that he would be mad to back the former Primer Minister for a third time, moved to woo Narc Kenya boss Martha Karua, former minister Mwangi Kiunjuri of The Service Party, Speaker Justin Muturi, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo of Tujibebe Wakenya party and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria of Chama Cha Kazi who were coalescing around the Mount Kenya Unity Forum as well as politician Cyrus Jirongo to increase their chances.
In their plan, the leaders, though had been endorsed by respective parties as presidential candidates, were to pick one of them to face Ruto and Raila, and went on to fault the media for "reducing the competition to a two-horse race".
Part of their intentions was to lock out any of the parties within the movement from negotiating with Ruto and Raila, a move that suggests that the alliance was determined to finish the race.
But today, the outfit, which pundits argue would have been a factor in the voting had it withered the storm, is dead after its leadership disintegrated to join the same alliances they had created a movement out of, by disparaging Ruto and Raila and their policies.
While Kalonzo, Moi as well as Karua have teamed up with Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta in the Azimio la Umoja movement, Mudavadi and Wetangula that were part of the founders of OKA, as well as Kiunjuri, Kuria (who had put a condition that the outfit must not join Azimio la Umoja wing) and Kabogo have joined Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza, and Muturi, who is considered a lightweight maintains he will go up to the ballot on Democratic Party ticket.
Jirongo has been leaning towards Raila who he invited to his party NDC, but has recently adopted a low profile.
Though Kalonzo, after he and Moi signed a deal with Raila and Uhuru maintains that OKA still exists because it signed a deal with Azimio la Umoja, has maintained that the collation be called Azimio-One Kenya, his pundits and colleagues say the outfit is dead.
"OKA is basically dead. OKA was Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Wetangula and Moi before they brought Karua, Kuria who they later disowned, Kabogo and Muturi. Without them being together, and by them splitting to join other outfits that are bigger than theirs, unless they are talking about papers which they may have signed, politically, OKA does not exist. It was even overambitious for them to think that they would create a force that would have dwarfed both Raila and Ruto," Joseph Ndichu, a political scientist says.
Others like Barrack Muluka who previously served as ANC's secretary-general said OKA was doomed to fail from the word go because it did not have any significant ideological agenda that was bringing it together.
"It was a conglomeration of gentlemen who had only one common vision which was to compete for power and each one of them saw everyone else in the formation as some kind of horse that they would ride on the back off to where they are going,” Muluka said.
Karua, who had remained ambivalent on her support for Raila and Ruto, has finally joined the latter and declared OKA dead.
“OKA was a coalition of the willing. We came together so that we may negotiate with other coalitions together. The moment colleagues went ahead and signed as individuals, the purpose of the coalition was spent, therefore it ceased even without much,” he says of the outfit.
First, Mudavadi after a series of attacks on his colleagues by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala over alleged double-dealing pulled a fast one on Kalonzo and Moi by inviting the deputy president to his National Delegates Convention where he threw harsh words at the president.
The bad blood between OKA leaders exploded in November last year when Kalonzo invited Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief to grace his National Delegates Conference at Kasarani Gymnasium, something Mudavadi was unhappy with, and through his allies led by Senator Malala, accused the Wiper party leader of inviting their enemy.
Rattled, Kalonzo fired back at Malala who he described as “a small boy and doesn't understand what bringing together a country entails”, telling him not to give him any ultimatums “unless you have been sent by the wheelbarrow guys” while Mavoko MP Patrick Makau, a Kalonzo surrogate, claimed Malala is sent by Ruto to destroy OKA Alliance.
Malala also accused Moi and his Kanu party of working secretly with Raila, the senator saying the four principles should take responsibility for the disorganization in OKA, saying they have failed to take a stand on the presidential race by delaying the naming of the candidate.
But OKA’s eventual death became apparent when Musalia invited Ruto, a man he together with Kalonzo, Wetangula, and Moi had in the last four years been disparaging and projecting as unsuitable for presidency over his democracy, graft credentials, and ideologies, and even vowed not to work with him.
Graced by Ruto, the day meant to boost Mudavadi's bid and shine his star was smeared by dramas after Kalonzo and Moi who had turned up for the event at Bomas of Kenya, walked out, leaving behind Wetangula after they learnt that the DP which they had described as common enemy had left a church service in Kiserian and his surrogates were on their way to the venue.
Keen to keep the fire burning, Kalonzo and Moi courted other friends, and one of them was Karua and Kuria who had just returned from a medical visit outside the country, and even embarked on joint meetings and rallies.
The leaders were to sign a deal which was postponed severally "over emerging issues" but shortly after it was signed, Kalonzo and Moi showed up at the signing of coalition agreement with with other parties at Kasarani stadium in favour of Azimio, and during which the former Vice President declared "Raila Tosha".
Karua said she was sidelined by her co-principals in their decision to sign a political agreement with the Azimio la Umoja coalition, saying the whole purpose of forming OKA was so that the parties forming the coalition could negotiate as one force ahead of the upcoming August election.
"One Kenya Alliance (OKA) was our collaborators for the sole purpose of negotiating together. But our colleagues decided to sign an agreement on their own during the Azimio National Delegates Conference. This means the sole purpose of forming OKA failed on that day. But we are still friends,” she said.
While the OKA team may have been determined to finish the race united, Uhuru remained keen on bringing together Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and OKA under one alliance to face Ruto following concerns that their disintegration would hand the second in command an easy win.
On the other hand, Ruto who has been aggressive in his quest to succeed his boss was keen to win the hearts of the co-principals, particularly Kalonzo and Mudavadi in his bid to net the Ukambani and Westen vote which, had it succeeded, would have injured Raila’s bid.
OKA was unable to fight back the onslaught and they all budged to join the two leading formations.
But the OKA team was already grappling with claims of weakness as far as staging a serious and successful presidential bid is concerned, with critics arguing that while Ruto and Raila have been busy holding meetings and rallies to consolidate support, they had concentrated more on retreats and demands.
One minute, the co-principals were addressing political rallies with bravado and machismo, the other, they were being chauffeured to State House to honour summons by Uhuru, and what would follow is them crying foul over alleged pressure to back Raila or demanding Uhuru and Raila support.
While they had continuously projected a bullish face on podiums, their decisions, choices of words and people they associated with, left them grappling which what pundits argued was an act of spinelessness in facing serious campaigns.