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September 20, 2018

High hurdles on road to a single NASA candidate

NASA proponents led by Odm's Raila Odinga, Wipers Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC's Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetangula during an opposition meeting at the Bomas of Kenya on January 11, 2017./Monicah Mwangi
NASA proponents led by Odm's Raila Odinga, Wipers Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC's Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetangula during an opposition meeting at the Bomas of Kenya on January 11, 2017./Monicah Mwangi

 On the face of it, you would think the opposition NASA alliance should have no problem agreeing on the man to face President Uhuru Kenyatta in August.

NASA has some serious political talent — men who have spent decades in politics and served in very high office, sometimes with distinction.

You cannot say any of these men is not qualified to serve as President — Raila Odinga (former Prime Minister, co-principal in the 2008-2013 coalition government), Kalonzo Musyoka (former VP 2008-2013, minister in multiple Cabinets), Senator Moses Wetang'ula (former long-serving MP and Cabinet minister) or Musalia Mudavadi (former Deputy PM, former VP and high-profile Cabinet minister over many years).

But only one of them can be President and only one other can be Deputy President.

And herein lies the first hurdle: what is to become of the two not elected to either position? What special offices can be created for them? These would need to be “serious” enough to appease their core regional supporters who are likely to be indispensable to any realistic prospects of a NASA victory.

These are the questions that will vex the 12-member coordinating committee set up by NASA's constituent parties, and charged with nominating the single presidential candidate most likely to defeat Uhuru in August.

No doubt part of their brief is to figure out what will be offered as compensation to the two men who are not on the ticket.

But as and when they come up with a name, a new problem will erupt: why would any of the incredibly ambitious men calmly accede to the committee's decision?

The point is that the last time we had a successful “national alliance” set up specifically to wrest power from an entrenched establishment — the National Rainbow Coalition of 2002 — the aftermath was wails of anguish and accusations of betrayal across the land. This as the promised rewards of high office, which had been encoded in an MoU, were never delivered.

Once President Mwai Kibaki was safely in State House, even those who had campaigned most vigorously for him found they could no longer reach him. At the same time, members of an informal shadowy group, “Kibaki's golf-playing cronies” seemed free to walk into State House at will.

With this experience still fresh in many minds, why would any of the current NASA leaders believe in any promises made — or specific undertakings given — by whoever will be their presidential candidate?

Poll of the day