• Whenever conditions have appeared conducive for Raila, new parameters have surfaced and meshed him from becoming president.
• In 2013 and 2017, the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin stuck together to vote for Uhuru, and in 2022 they did so again for Ruto.
Media framing last Monday created the impression of a strong Raila Odinga onslaught in the demonstrations in Nairobi.
Images projected from squeezed streets in Eastleigh and a few other Nairobi areas made it appear that the entire Nairobi had ground to a standstill and that Raila was succeeding in his push against President William Ruto’s regime.
Raila, buoyed by the impact, declared that the demos will be happening every Monday and then added Thursdays to this plan a day later, sensing that it might be the opportune time to go for Kenya Kwanza’s jugular. It is a race that Raila and lieutenants are running alone as it is dissimilar to the campaigns where all, including President Ruto, would be able to enter the fray.
It is not the first time that Raila is seeking to regenerate and rebrand as the ‘people’s defender’. He has always formed some ‘liberation’ movements such as ‘Okoa Kenya’, ‘Building Bridges Initiative’ among others whenever an opponent has subdued him in the elections as he pursues continuity.
Presidential elections involving Raila have been nail-bitingly close and suspenseful. He has been here before, a place of bitterness in defeat. Footage of Raila at the Directorate of criminal Investigations headquarters on Kiambu Road a few weeks ago had him palpitating with anger as he pushed to enter the precincts. Though he threatened to galvanize his supporters against the DCI, he was not as poised then as he was on Monday, as he monopolized Nairobi streets calling for Ruto’s ejection from office.
In the last elections, the super wealthy from the Mt Kenya region threw their weight behind Raila, who was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s choice. This was diametrically opposed to the stance a good number of them had taken back in 2007, as they subtly rallied behind President Mwai Kibaki, with the alienation even compelling Raila to visit the Nairobi Stock Exchange to pacify and assure Kenyans that he meant well for investors and the economy.
After Raila and Uhuru made peace in March 2018, Raila was privileged to visit former President Daniel Moi (now deceased) but Ruto was said to have been barred from seeing the man. It was then rumored that Moi had endorsed Raila as Uhuru’s successor.
Soon thereafter, there was a telling movement in the political sphere as key figures began to pay Raila courtesy calls at his Capital hill office, and in events to beat drums for the Building Bridges Initiative Raila was addressed as ‘Your Excellency” as he relished the trappings of power. It was clear that a deal had been made between the Kenyatta and the Odinga scions. Some projected that Raila would take power in 2022 but the end was to the contrary.
Claims about the super wealthy bankrolling Raila in the current upheaval he is orchestrating have also been made. Legislators Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu and National Assembly Majority leader) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) have, without substantiating their claims, accused the former President of sponsoring the protests.
While there is no tangible proof availed to Kenyans about this, the history above can be seen as a circumstantial indication. Uhuru has been tight-lipped, either because he considers the claims nonsensical and beneath him or he prefers operate in the shadows as tact, if at all he is involved.
Mama Ngina Kenyatta, who seldom appears or speaks in public, gave a strong response to the tax evasion claims two months ago, which was some confirmation of pressure on Kenya’s Independence First Family, asking that legal means be employed in enforcing tax responsibilities.
Uhuru and his cronies clearly did not trust Ruto to succeed him, and the tax dodging assertions made by the latter’s political buddies must have aggravated the situation. While there is no proof yet about this, this forms part of speculation in the minds of many a Kenyan about whether they are imperceptibly up against Ruto.
Nevertheless, it is neither Moi, Kibaki, Uhuru nor Ruto who can be said to have hindered Raila’s elusive dream of ascending to the helm of Kenya’s government. Can anyone really blame any of those men or their system men as the ‘deep state’ was behind Raila in 2022?
Life is not only physical, it is spiritual as well. No man is guaranteed anything in this world, and those who are sincere enough on soaring to the house on the hill always admit that it was not by power or might that they did. Whenever conditions have appeared conducive for Raila, new parameters have surfaced and meshed him from becoming president. A higher force always seems to raise a standard against him.
In 2013 and 2017, the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin stuck together to vote for Uhuru, and in 2022 they did so again for Ruto.
While he led in 2007, America called for power sharing through the grand coalition government. In the good book, Daniel observes that it is God who makes and unmakes Kings.
It appears again, that Raila has a chance to bring down a government because of the prevailing tough conditions such as high cost of living, which he is hell-bent on taking advantage of.
From experience, he is able to work up the emotions of the jobless, idle and poor while blaming Ruto and government for it, and creating the aura of change and a defining moment. He will clamp together the matter of economic adversity and his sore loss in last elections. It is a no-brainer seeing the hypocrisy and opportunism.
Over Sh10 billion was reportedly spent in the failed BBI process, which had Raila trotting the country supported by Uhuru. Kenya Kwanza claimed Raila’s campaigns in 2022 were also said to be footed mostly via government coffers and resources such as the administrative network.
Right now, Raila wears the gown of a saint galvanizing hapless youth to cause mayhem in the city and grind business to a stop. Is it the right spirit while the final arbiter for election disputes in Kenya, the Supreme Court, dismissed his petition? Misapplying the people’s angst towards a fledgling government is neither patriotic nor a show of political muscle.
Various factors have been cited for the current economic challenges the country and others are facing. Kenya is largely an import country, as Trade minister Moses Kuria explained. The dollar is appreciating at the expense of the shilling and other currencies globally. Maybe the Americans intend to grow their economy largely over this period or other aspects are at play.
The country has experienced drought for years now because rainfall, which used to fall over a longer period in its seasons, now happens more intensely but over a shorter period of time leaving crops as only good for fodder in most parts of the country.
While Ruto is not a saint either, we need a vibrant opposition to check his government but the country cannot afford another ‘handshake’. In a winner-take-it-all system, an opposition in bed with the government can only lead to underhand dealings as witnessed in the last government.
The law must be the defender and equalizer for all Kenyans. As the good book says, not all things that are good are permissible. Demos may be allowed but they should not be a form of blackmail.
As Raila attempts to play with semantics such as “date with destiny”, maybe he should be mindful of the invisible wind, which has always ground his ship to a stop.
Caleb Mwamisi is a political commentator