The die is cast!
“Get it right and go report it in black and white in your favourite Weekly Citizen that his right Honourable Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga will run for presidency 2022,” a key ally of the ODM leader and a member of his inner core told this writer.
Pressed further to elaborate on the issue he was emphatic: “ODM is the second largest and oldest party in the country with structures and networks across the country. If we do not field a presidential candidate, it will mean voter apathy in our strongholds in 2022 and easily land presidency to William Ruto.”
One thing was clear from this – Raila is now set for referendum that will usher in new political seats.
After the referendum, Raila will immediately embark on his phase two of the handshake deal between him and Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to the insider, the decision by ODM to withdraw from Wajir West by-election after losing Ugenya and Embakasi East constituencies by-elections was a well designed and calculated move. Others beg to differ though and say that ODM now has its tail between its legs and was fearing more shameful humiliation.
After the defeat of two seats, ODM is said to have held a crisis meeting where it was agreed that a facesaving mechanism had to be employed. It was on these grounds that Raila claimed that losing in a by-election was not a big deal. Weekly Citizen has further established that the party discussed the Wajir East by-election for hours.
During the meetings, two factors cropped up. One was for ODM to withdraw its candidate and back one allied to Kanu party. Here Gideon Moi factor emerged. It was agreed that if ODM threw its weight behind Kanu candidate, it would go against the spirit of handshake between Uhuru and Raila. The DP’s camp would also use the move to puncture holes in handshake deal on grounds; Raila was undermining Uhuru’s Jubilee party.
It was on these grounds that a decision was reached to back the Jubilee man as a payback to what the party did by not sponsoring a candidate in Ugenya.
Back to Raila’s presidential bid 2022 being his fifth one, your favourite Weekly Citizen has established that it is well guarded secret with fear if it is announced now, Jubilee pro-Ruto camp reading betrayal would benefit. It is also likely to scuttle the current events surrounding so-called The Building Bridge Initiative.
A source within BBI told Weekly Citizen that one thing that tops the agenda as BBI members move around collecting views from members of public purportedly is the need to tame corruption that is strangling the country.
The issue of the referendum comes second. Fear now is that if BBI recommends drastic steps to fight graft as they are being petitioned, Ruto camp will cry foul and claim BBI, just like the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headed by George Kinoti and Directorate of Public prosecuting of Noordin Haji is being used to stop his presidential bid 2022, BBI had also been turned into a similar tool in favour of Raila.
Interestingly, worse is the fact that Senator Yusuf Haji, the father of Noordin Haji chairs BBI. Ruto himself and his allies have come out to hit out Kinoti and Noordin for turning their offices into Uhuru succession 2022.
Keen observers will agree that within ODM, Raila and his strategists have come out with guns blazing to consolidate power by taming rebel MPs. Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa who has been expelled from the party with Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori being reprimanded. The two had decided to throw weight behind Ruto presidency.
Your favourite Weekly Citizen has information that the move to expel Jumwa is part of Raila’s 2022 presidential bid. Unlike Jubilee which is on fire due to current wrangles bedevilling it and is likely to break ahead of 2022 polls, Raila strategists want a united ODM, without rebels that will go to 2022 polls to face Ruto currently seen the only formidable candidate.
Raila strategy is to use the handshake politics and make inroads in Mount Kenya vote bloc that did not vote for him 2013 and 2017 while facing Uhuru. Raila fear is that if Ruto is allowed to control Mt Kenya bloc vote and enjoy the Kalenjin vote as it stands now since Gideon has failed to make an impact, then he is the man to beat 2022.
And in order to tame him politically, the Mt Kenya vote, more so, the Kikuyu one must be split at all costs.
At the moment, Raila is toying with the idea of having former Kenya National Congress presidential candidate Peter Kenneth as his running mate though he is open to another name should Kenneth not fit the bill.
The ODM leader is open to either Kalonzo Musyoka or Musalia Mudavadi taking the premier’s position with Gideon and Mombasa governor Hassan Joho taking the deputy premier posts.
This line-up, Raila believes, will vanquish Ruto as the DP must get total support from Mount Kenya and Rift Valley to mount a serious presidential campaign.
Sources reveal that in case Kalonzo bolts out in the planned arrangement, then Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana will replace him. Those in the scheme are aware that Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula relationship with Raila is beyond political reconciliation. The team is working to bring on board Mukhisa Kituyi and Eugene Wamalwa to win the populous Bukusu vote bloc.
In order to take care of governors serving their last term in office so as not to fall prey to Ruto machinations, Raila strategists are pushing for the creation of regional governments.
According to sources, Raila is confident of clinching the presidency in 2022 believing that he has made inroads in Central Kenya and hopes Gideon will help split the Kalenjin vote.
Last year, Siaya senator James Orengo said Raila remains their preferred presidential candidate though he had signed a pact with Wiper to support Kalonzo in 2022.
Orengo, as if to chide other aspirants, said Raila, as compared to the other aspirants, has fought for many changes and the best reward Kenyans can give him is to make him president.
ODM hopes to cure the violent sham party primaries that dog it every election cycle leading to disquiet and internal rebellion.
So far, a team constituted to audit its electoral performance in the 2017 elections has compiled a report and handed it over to ODM’s top leadership for action.
One of the recommendations is for Raila to stop his militant politics and become a peacemaker in order to win regions such as Mount Kenya which fear his presidency as the voters believe he will destroy their businesses as his supporters refuse to pay house rent and take over the houses like they did in Kibera slum in 2008 where Kikuyus in Gatwikira and Kianda were chased from their own houses where up to today Luos claim ownership making nonsense of the handshake according to the victims.
Drawing from these recommendations, the ODM leader has dropped his militant politics to become submissive to state authority, a move that he calculates will enable him penetrate Mount Kenya region.
The team of experts led by Mohammed Haji has also conducted a comprehensive review of nominations and elections rules and party structures where they recommended Raila stops imposing candidates, including his relatives, if he wants ODM to remain the most powerful party in his strongholds.
Insiders say Raila believes his truce with Uhuru has enabled him to win votes in erstwhile hostile regions while Ruto is losing support.
The ODM leader shocked the nation during the launch of Unaita branch in Kisumu when he told Nyanza residents to stop whining about marginalisation and wean themselves off overdependence on the national government.
In what seems to be part of his continued change of tack, Raila said the only sure way out of poverty is for locals to invest in income-generating activities, as opposed to whining about bad politics.
His comments in Kisumu were meant to tell the Luos there will be no free things if he forms the next government and at the same time assuring Mount Kenya and other voting blocs that their investments will be safeguarded.
This contrasted Raila’s earlier claims that successive governments of the day were to blame for neglecting Nyanza.
In his tour of Kisumu, the ODM leader singled out untapped potential in farming, encouraging the youth to take up fishing and grow avocado, cotton, macadamia nuts and other crops for money.
Keen observers must have noticed that the ODM leader, who in the past was too keen to mobilise Luo youths to demonstrate against alleged marginalisation and stealing of votes, is now a changed man who is praising the current regime more than any other leader.
The ODM leader reconciled with the president in March last year after a divisive electioneering debate and since then, their relationship has blossomed with the pair seen often at State House.
By going for the presidency, Raila will disappoint the Baringo senator who has been traversing the country and even touring ODM strongholds, believing he will be endorsed by Raila.
Sources say Raila is sure he will reap from the ongoing confusion in the ruling Jubilee Party that many say he engineered.
Raila is also benefitting from the ongoing silent campaigns triggered by the supposed war against corruption.
In this war, Ruto is portrayed as the villain who is determined to make money at whatever cost.
The ODM leader also believes that the regular meetings he has held with leaders from the Mount Kenya region, an area that has for long voted against him, have opened new ground for him to enter into negotiations with them on power sharing after 2022 polls.
According to sources at Orange House, the veteran leader is sure he is capable of winning the presidential seat with or without the backing of other Nasa leaders.
He is confident Kenyans are ready to reward him for his sacrifices ostensibly for the nation and their wellbeing.
During last year’s two presidential campaigns, Ruto was particularly opposed to the formation of a government of national unity or any deal with the opposition.
But with the handshake, Raila was catapulted a notch higher.
Uhuru now consults Raila regularly and their plan involves having national conferences on matters such as inclusivity, devolution, corruption, electoral reforms and security.
There has been growing speculation that Raila was preparing to run for president again in 2022 and has been rebuilding his ODM party as part of this strategy.
But his allies had ruled out another bid for Raila, hinting that he will be a kingmaker.
Since his co-principals skipped his January 30 swearing-in as the ‘people’s president’, Raila’s core supporters have urged him to ditch Nasa and rebuild his ODM party.
They derided Mudavadi, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula as cowards for not attending the swearing-in while their supporters have claimed Raila tricked them and proceeded to the venue behind their backs in a scheme to sideline them from opposition.
Insiders say Raila is the only candidate who can raise campaign funds internally and externally.
His appointment to the highest ranking special envoy on the continent by the African Union chairman, with offices in five countries, has also raised his profile.
Raila’s appointment as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa cuts across political, economic and technical spheres which will help him mobilise campaign funds.