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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NASA on the horns of a dilemma


Is it the ‘night of the long knives’ for NASA? There has been subtle jostling for the presidential flagbearer in the recent past, with politicians such as Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Senator Oburu Oginga strongly rooting for ODM supremo Raila Odinga. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka appears to have run afoul of the NGO Board after he was accused of alleged financial impropriety and lack of probity.

Curiously his spirited denials have been met with a respectable silence, even by coalition partners. Claims that it is a Jubilee or National Intelligence Service plot have been studiously ignored.

A recent popularity opinion poll on NASA places Raila at the head of the pack, followed by Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo, with Moses Wetang’ula, who has been pushed to the periphery, a distant fourth. The prospect of a Raila-Mudavadi ticket, however, raises serious issues on regional balance as both men hail from Western (the former Kavirondo Gulf).

The inclusion of Kalonzo would give NASA a more national face. In the meantime, Sirisia MP John Waluke has issued notice that the Mulembe Nation will vote for Jubilee if one of their sons is not nominated NASA flagbearer.

Not to be outdone, the Wiper wing has produced campaign materials marked “No Kalonzo, No NASA”, which has infuriated his coalition partners.

He has also consolidated support in his Lower Eastern backyard by getting the support of Narc’s Charity Ngilu, Wavinya Ndeti of Chama Cha Uzalendo and Mutua Katiku’s People’s Trust Party. There is a coded message here from Kalonzo to his coalition partners to note his solid vote bloc or ignore it at their peril.

There are clear signs of serious infighting within NASA, despite public attempts to portray a united front. Unless the issue of the presidential flagbearer is swiftly settled, NASA may implode. It will take a miracle or an enormous amount of personal sacrifice to keep the coalition together.

The key to the puzzle, however, remains Raila. Kalonzo is hurting and loudly grousing about a trashed MoU signed between Wiper and ODM, which makes him the presidential flagbearer in 2017.

Jubilee mandarins are meanwhile gleefully watching from the sidelines in the hopes of reaping the spoils. Mudavadi is also looking in as the founder of NASA with the hope of clinching the ticket. A Mudavadi-Kalonzo ticket creates a lot of excitement and a nightmare for Jubilee. It is the one team that can force Jubilee into a second round election.

However, it can only work with the complete and absolute support of Raila. Some difficult decisions have to be made in the immediate future, if the opposition is to survive the current hurdles. The NASA leaders must choose between the greater of two evils — sacrificing personal ambitions or giving Jubilee a second term.

They cannot procrastinate any longer as time is definitely not on their side. The more they delay nominating the flagbearer, the more they appear as a rudderless outfit unfit to govern, as Deputy President William Ruto often describes them.

History will judge the NASA leaders harshly if they throw the country back to the situation witnessed in 1992, when the opposition failed to unite and fronted three candidates, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenneth Matiba and Mwai Kibaki, leaving Moi to romp to victory with a mere 30 per cent of the national vote.

Moi even had the temerity to demand a second term as the law on the 10-year limit could not be applied retrospectively, thus rubbing our noses further in the mud.

A major opportunity was lost due to the greed of opposition members who could not agree on a single candidate to remove a reactionary President. The same de ja vu situation appears to be developing in 2017. Who will bite the bullet?

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