• It is time for Raila to establish his own winning team and run for President with or without the support of the President.
• The team he builds should not be seen from the prism of tribal lords brought together.
There was a small news item last week that almost slipped by, unless one was addicted to the intrigues that inform our politics.
The story was that President Uhuru Kenyatta had called a meeting of party leaders (which usually means just six — Raila Odinga (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Gideon Moi (Kanu), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Charity Ngilu (Narc) at State House, Nairobi.
Raila, however, fell ill, and failed to appear. He then sent his allies, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, to Ngilu’s house in Karen to “receive updates”. This wouldn’t have been surprising, because Nasa is dead, and four of the five who got invited to this rendezvous are therefore charting their own path, leaving Ngilu as the only Raila ally in this exclusive club.
To be honest, I have always wondered why Ngilu doesn’t play a bigger political role in this country. She and Raila ran for President for the first time in 1997, when the rest of that State House cast were still comfortably nestled in Kanu, enjoying the trappings of power that came with a ruling monolith.
Ngilu didn’t run an outsider campaign by any stretch: She was the 'alternative' for many voters still stuck to their largely tribal formations. Her Masaa Ya Mama extravaganza, complete with a clock symbol, was one of the most colourful campaigns you’ll ever see.
Her Social Democratic Party even had a politburo of three wise men — Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Dr Apollo Njonjo and Justus Nyangaya — running the messaging and political grounding.
As the first woman in the country to hit such a high note, I always thought she would only grow from there and make a bigger mark.
Even after she played a big role in the success of the Narc coalition five years later, my gut instinct was that she was made for president. She is, therefore, a natural ally and fellow reformer, for Raila, in my ideal 2022 lineup.
RAILA FOR PRESIDENT
In those boardroom deals and MoUs struck in the dead of night, Raila will most likely — and for the umpteenth time, if you like — opt for a one-term deal. This makes his choice of running mate very crucial to his base because that person will most likely be their presidential candidate five years later.
NGILU FOR DEPUTY
Of the presidential contenders, Ngilu and Raila are the most experienced, having run in just the second multiparty election in the country.
Ngilu is also a fighter, who doesn’t pull any punches. Her 1997 campaign showed her as fearless. She would also give the ticket gender balance. But of all the possible choices Raila can make, she is a true reformer.
The good thing about this pick would be that it would force Kalonzo’s hand in Ukambani. To upstage a Raila-Ngilu ticket, Kalonzo would have to demand that his alliance makes him the flagbearer, which would be a good way for the Raila alliance to put pressure on the former Nasa allies.
KITUYI FOR PM
If as expected, BBI passesand the post of prime minister is introduced, there would be no better person for this office than former Kimilili MP Mukhisa Kituyi.
A true reformer fit for this team, a workaholic and performer, Kituyi’s experience in Parliament would work well for the regime. He would also help align the legislative agenda in the house to Raila’s legacy, especially as they would be looking at a single term. He would then slot in nicely as Ngilu’s running mate the next time round.
PK AS DEPUTY PM
I would have picked him as Raila’s running mate, especially if Uhuru decides to support Raila for President to give the ticket a face from Central Kenya and make it easy for the head of state to sell this to his base.
Uhuru has, however, sold the vibe across the country that two tribes have ruled for 57 years and there is need for a change. Having someone from Central as running mate this soon would make it look like they are taking just a five-year break before attempting a return. I therefore slot PK for DPM. Kituyi read Kenneth’s eulogy at the funeral of the latter’s mother, proving how close they are.
Together, they would make this office great again, especially since Kenneth has received plaudits over his time running the CDF as Gatanga MP.
The Prime Minister’s office would be radiant with two performers, who enjoy great chemistry. The alternative to PK here can be Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, especially if the handshake lasts long enough to the election and Uhuru needs some of his people inside.
JOHO AS DEPUTY PM
To complete this team would be a long-term Raila loyalist and ally, and the only one originally from ODM. He would be Raila’s true eyes in the team and a go-to man as scheming begins for the 2027 elections.
He is from the Coast, he is Muslim and has deep tentacles in business circles. He would bring diversity to the team, just like Ngilu.
Being the only Coastal and Muslim in this latter day Pentagon, Joho would rally the Coast and Muslim vote to this heavy-hitting team.
Following reports that certain elements within the so-called 'deep state' are angling to betray the ODM boss, I submit that it is time for him to establish his own winning team and run for President with or without the support of the President.
This cross-country team that encompasses talent from across the political and tribal spectrum, or something close to it, would be a good starting point. The impression that he is waiting on Uhuru to tap him isn’t a good one for someone of his talent and experience.
It is possible that even those in the regime who support him will be glad to find him on course, plotting his own run, instead of banking on a confused system made up of people more scared about their own individual safety after the transition, than the well-being of the country post-Uhuru.
I for one do not believe that the campaign model where tribal kingpins are planted, then made to postpone their ambitions for a national kingpin, still holds sway.
If Raila is to make a credible final run, I hope the team he builds will not be seen from the prism of tribal lords brought together, which means that the death of Nasa may not be a bad thing after all.
A new dispensation will require more creative thinking and politics.