2022 SUCCESSION

Uhuru’s dilemma and what lies ahead of 2022

There are those in 'the system' inclined to see the President throw Raila under the bus

In Summary

• Were Uhuru to back Raila after the passage of BBI, then the doyen of opposition politics will have a realistic chance of finally being sworn in as president.

• If he throws Raila under the bus, then he would either have to swallow hard and suddenly embrace Ruto.

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
TRIO: Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Image: FILE

The historic handshake on March 9, 2018, was a masterstroke that seemed to have saved Uhuru Kenyatta’s then-disputed presidency while giving Opposition leader Raila Odinga a lifeline to fight another day.

Things were hunky-dory following the handshake, even as many doubted either the sincerity of the handshake, its lasting power or both.

Then the handshake’s baby, BBI, was birthed, and it seemed its implementation or passage in a referendum was on the fast track.

However, Covid-19 disrupted the process early last year as the BBI train picked up steam and it has since been sputtering along.

While the BBI Bill went past the first handle in the county assemblies, where it is headed is unclear.

Which brings us to Uhuru’s first dilemma: Does he throw Raila under the bus now that BBI has cleared its biggest hurdle, as some are alleging he has done, and shelve BBI, or does he stay with Raila through its passage in a referendum?

A reckless and unwise leader would do just that —  throw Raila under the bus and shelve BBI. However, Uhuru is neither so that should be an easy dilemma for him to resolve.

The second dilemma is what to do with Raila after BBI inevitably passes. To be sure, without Raila’s support, BBI cannot pass in a referendum, nor can many of its provisions that do not require a popular vote come to life in the National Assembly.

When Uhuru and Raila had us embark on this handshake journey, there was an aura of relief in the air that if the two political enemies found it in them to come together, then there was nothing we could not do as a country for unity.

Indeed, many expected quick passage and implementation of the BBI followed by riding of the wave carrying the law change onwards to 2022, where the presidential victor would be Raila.

Not just for having guided the country through BBI passage, but, more importantly, to slay the ugly notion that he, let alone a Luo, cannot lead the country.

No one was better positioned to lead in this noble endeavour than the President and, to a certain extent, he has tried, most notably by saying we don't need yet another Kikuyu or Kalenjin president, not in 2022.

Jokes and fertile imagination aside, there are only three candidates who can be sworn in as president come 2022 — Raila, Ruto and 'S', for 'the system'  president.

Were Uhuru to back Raila after the passage of BBI, then the doyen of opposition politics will have a realistic chance of finally being sworn in as president. Note I am not saying to finally 'win' the presidency, which he has, at least once.

But will Uhuru back Raila? It is a good question and at the core of Uhuru’s dilemma: To back or not to back Raila for 2022.

Were Uhuru to remain faithful to what brought him together with Raila in the historic handshake, and to slay the mostly tribal hatred of Raila and therefore opposition to his quest for the presidency, Uhuru would back Raila.

If he throws Raila under the bus, then he would either have to swallow hard and suddenly embrace Ruto and reverse all the damage that has been inflicted on the DP at the President’s behest — for he cannot have the duo trying to teach him and those behind the moribund action a lesson.

While anything is possible in politics, it is highly unlikely 'the system' will allow Uhuru to reconcile with Ruto. But a good section of it would be gleeful were Uhuru to throw Raila under the bus and risk everything that comes with it.

In fact, all the telltale signs are there are those in 'the system' inclined to see the latter happen and already are laying the groundwork to have their preferred candidate sworn as president come 2022, that is assuming we have elections then.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator.