To some, Raila Odinga may have only raised a Bible and read a “useless” oath on Tuesday. But to core supporters, he not only fulfilled his promise but in the process destroyed the careers of his co-principals.
His action may also have handed Deputy President William Ruto and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho “political lifts ”
Fashioned as the fight for electoral justice, by showing up at Uhuru Park without his colleagues, Raila cemented his place in the hearts of his supporters who pushed him to take the oath — knowing very well the instruments of power were already with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
As soon as the ceremony ended, albeit hurriedly, NASA supporters from eastern and western Kenya had unsavory adjectives for the three no-shows: Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and Kalonzo Musyoka, who was to have been sworn in as DP. This raises doubts about their future.
Ruto is the front-runner to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
With the NASA coalition wobbling in the wake of claims of betrayal in yesterday’s swearing, the DP and Joho could exploit the moment.
Yesterday, National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale said the NASA developments were predetermined and orchestrated to justify Raila’s ‘insatiable appetite for the presidency, even in 2022”.
“The DP is not threatened at all. He will traverse this country when that time comes to ask for votes. Given our track record and the foundation Jubilee has laid down, I am certain he will be given an opportunity to serve as Kenya’s commander-in-chief,” he told the Star.
Yesterday the three no-shows from Wiper, Ford Kenya and ANC were hard-pressed to explain why they were absent from Uhuru Park despite promising they would stand firm.
Police denied claims that had put the three under house arrest hours to the inauguration.
“That was a political question and you received a political answer. It is not true we put Kalonzo Musyoka or any other leader under house arrest,” National Police Service Spokesman Charles Owino said
Earlier yesterday, Ford Kenya’s Wetang’ula refused to answer journalists’ questions on why he missed the event. He said he would not engage in innuendo and conjecture.
ANC boss Mudavadi dismissed similar questions, saying they were firmly working together for electoral justice, devolution of resources, media freedom and police reforms.
“People should not create division’s amongst us. This is not child’s play and let’s not be simplistic. Some of us we have worked behind the scenes and in public and contributed a lot to make what NASA is today,” he said before brushing off journalists.
He said the NASA summit comprising the four principals will meet to deliberate before they issue a comprehensive statement.
Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli summed up the disappointment by Kalonzo and Mudavadi supporters yesterday when he called them “irredeemable cowards”.
“I said it in Kisumu in 2007 when Kalonzo ditched Raila. He said ‘nitapita katikati yao (I will pass through them).” That was a betrayal of social justice because you [Kalonzo] are a coward and you will never be a leader,” Atwoli fumed.
He added, “Mudavadi is like a pig that returns to garbage immediately after you clean it. These are not leaders but opportunists and Uhuru should not be shaken by these guys.”
Following the Uhuru Park events, some Nyanza MPs yesterday called on Raila to start preparing to run for President again, raising questions on the future of the NASA coalition. It is understood that 2017 was Raila’s last attempt, although the NASA coalition agreement did not state so.
With his fanatical support, and if the crowd that filled Uhuru Park is anything to go by, Raila will remain a key player in who becomes President in 2022.
“He will be the kingmaker if he is not king himself,” Professor Macharia Munene of USIU said.
As the three principals struggled to recover from the backlash of the previous day, Raila’s swearing-in also marked the rise of a new breed of the so-called Raila warriors in Western. They include Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Simba Arati, NASA CEO Norman Magaya and Nairobi Senatorial candidate Edwin Sifuna, who played leading roles in the swearing-in.
Sources close to the organisation of the oathing say the secretariat and members of the think tank played a critical role in ensuring it took place.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary was Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who has been positioning himself in ODM as Raila’s heir apparent.
Described as a smart politician, the ODM deputy party leader stood by and is the one who invited Raila to take the oath.
“Joho has won the admiration of the Raila base. If Raila said Joho Tosha, there would also be a non-Raila base in the Muslim world that would crown him. Now that Raila has consolidated his base, the next “Raila” may also just have been crowned at the function,” political commentator Collins Ajuok said.
Political analyst and university lecturer Norbert Okwemba said the Uhuru Park no-showwas a miscalculation that could cost them politically.
Okwemba said should Raila decide not to run for President, Joho could emerge the natural running mate to lock the Coast region.
“Raila could easily garner more votes from Western even without Musalia and Wetang’ula. What he would need to appease the Coast to consolidate substantial support if he is to pose a formidable challenge to Ruto,” he said.
Joho, a fierce critic of Jubilee, is serving his last term in office and has indicated he wants to be President in 2022.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said Joho has big ambitions.
“His heart is made of steel. He won’t be shaken and has put a strong foundation for his big ambitions,” he told the Star.
“We will continue to stand with Baba [ Raila] in every moment and hour of need.”
However, in what appears to be a blessing in disguise for Raila’s camp, his lieutenants yesterday came out guns blazing insisting that ODM had freed itself from “political debts and baggage” in the journey to 2022.
Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo said that with betrayal from his co-principals, Raila has no option but to run for President, further raising tension in the fractured coalition.
Odhiambo said the absence of the co-principals at Uhuru Park showed none of them was worth Raila’s support.
“ODM cannot afford to support cowards in 2022 when it’s crystal clear they are not up to the task,” Odhiambo said, a position taken by most of ODM lawmakers.
“Why should we elevate cowards to the highest office when our heroes Raila Odinga and Hassan Joho are still alive?” he told the Star in a phone interview.
Raila’s ODM had entered into a pact with Ford Kenya, Wiper and ANC prior to the General election, barring the Orange party from fielding a presidential candidate in 2022.
Instead, the other three affiliate parties would have an opportunity to produce the NASA flagbearer.
The other people whose stars are shining bright are those of women legislators who stood by Raila throughout. They include Aisha Jumwa of Kilifi, Likoni’s Mishi Mboko, Busia’s Florence Mutua, Kisumu’s Rosa Buyu, and Nairobi’s Esther Passaris. The women have been on the streets in support of their party leader on most occasions.
ODM lawmakers including the party chairman John Mbadi, Jared Okello (Nyando) and Caleb Amisi (Saboti) expressed disappointment and asked their leader to reconsider his relationship with the three.
Mbadi, also the National Assembly Minority leader said the three, especially Kalonzo who is eying the NASA ticket, lack grounds to defend themselves for skipping the swearing in.
“Whether they were blocked from coming or scared for whatever reason, we are a democratic nation. There’s no medicine for fear. A coward is a coward. Those who are brave enough came on out Tuesday,” Mbadi said.
“There is no explanation that can convince us that the absence was warranted. We will push our leadership to redefine ODM’s relationship with the three leaders,” Okello said.
He said thy will ask their party to reengage on sharing of parliamentary positions among the NASA affiliates
“We have been waiting for them to tell us what made them skip the event but nothing is forthcoming.Raila had three brothers but when they got to the battlefield they fled and left him alone. Raila may have to get new brothers to transact business with,” Okello said.
Some Wiper leaders, including organising Secretary Robert Mbui (Kathiani MP) and Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) expressed disappointment over the trio’s absence.
Mbui said the three should reunite with Raila to cement the coalition’s unity to continue commanding nationwide support.
“I don’t know why Kalonzo and other two co-principals did not show up. He could have done that because all of us were waiting for that moment because some of us got injured fighting for that course,” Mbui said.
He said Raila is the only person who will make one of them clinch the presidency, hence ,they should walk with him.
“Now we are at a loss because we were expecting all the principals to turn up and tell the country that were are united against the Jubilee regime.”
Mbui claimed that it will be difficult for Kalonzo to redeem himself or to get support from NASA supporters for 2022 unless he also takes the oath.
“Kalonzo has to be sworn in. We have no answers for his absence,” Mbui said.
He added that his constituents are disappointed and vowed not to “allow cowards amongst us (leaders)”, despite Kalonzo and his colleagues claiming security officers blocked them.
Machakos Governor and Jubilee point man in Ukambani, Alfred Mutua, mocked on Twitter,
“The whole swearing-in event was wrong and bound to fail because it was unconstitutional and based on the wrong premise. On the other hand, it is now crystal clear to all that Kalonzo Musyoka has over and over again proven that he can never be depended on. Trust him at your peril.”