Whether it is deliberate attempt to avoid facing reality or a mere papering of cracks, it is not clear. What is clear however with a month and half to the general election, is that friendly fire between affiliate parties within the Nasa conglomeration threatens to cause more harm than the enemy fire from outside. The Nasa parties are at war with themselves wherever there is a seat to contest for.
Candidates from the various parties are boycotting joint Nasa political rallies
So much so that candidates from the various parties are boycotting joint Nasa political rallies in their regions on grounds that Raila Odinga openly parades and campaigns for ODM allied faces against other affiliated ones.
A case in point is the rally held at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi’s Eastlands where Raila gave only ODM aspirants a chance to address the crowd sidelining the likes of Elizabeth Ongoro, the ANC candidate running against Tom Kajwang of ODM in Kasarani.
And it repeats itself across the country by signals, innuendo and outright hostility against other party candidates as each party chief looks to have as many MPs as possible so as to qualify for funding from the Political Parties kitty that government allocates parties according to their strength in representation.
A situation everyone who sees beyond the nose politically could see at formation of Nasa, would play out once campaigns proper started and competition became a no-holds barred affair. If rivalry at party nominations between fellow party members was so beastly, what about between different parties members coalition or no coalition? A candidate of, say, Wiper, would treat an ANC candidate no softlier than that of Jubilee. After all, his loss would not be lesser if it was meted on him by the ANC candidate and not the Jubilee one.
What’s more, Nasa voters still have the unanswered question as to whether it is ODM orange symbol that will be the ballot paper or the Nasa logo.
Although the Nasa principals in public are putting on a face of a united front, at the grassroots, it is each man for himself as their parties battle for elective seats. It speaks of how Kenya’s politics is still backward by even regional standards that party leaders driven by thirst for power overlook pitfalls right on their feet and ostense to cobble up unions on the spur of the moment without considering the implications on the common goal they purport to target. Had they meant to form a seamlessly harmonious union, analysts say, Nasa principals would have taken time to map the country and come up with a lineup of candidates that would not be in competition with itself. But then this would have resulted to barring parties from fielding candidates in regions where a party considers stronghold. It is to avoid such political constipation as is now afflicting Nasa that wisdom always has it that parties form coalitions after elections. The better option but one that party owners find unthinkable, given that owning a party in Kenya is like owning a goldmine, is to dissolve parties into one entity. This way, the messaging is syncronised.
That the friction between parties in Nasa is nearing burning point was illustrated last week in Mombasa during Iftar, the evening meal breaking day’s fast, hosted by Mombasa governor Ali Joho, when Kalonzo Musyoka reprimanded Raila for advocating six-piece voting, reminding the Nasa flagbearer of the existence of other parties that also deserved a share of the elective seats. ODM and Wiper have fielded candidates in almost all the electoral seats in Mombasa.
Raila had led his ODM brigade in insisting on purely a six-piece voting style in favour of ODM while Kalonzo was opposed to the idea, calling for a fair share of positions among Nasa affiliate parties something that anyone can see is not feasible given that one must fight for his own.
This moreso given that ODM’s Joho who is facing Wiper’s Omar Hassan is Raila’s main financier. It looks kindergartenish from a purely pragmatic political vista that Raila is campaigning for Joho and Kalonzo who is Raila’s running mate is campaigning for Omar. That there would be no ruffling of feathers in such scenario is to say the least, pretentious to no benefit.
In the populous Western region, specifically Kakamega county, discontent is growing due to Raila’s strong push to have ODM candidates elected at the expense of the coalition’s affiliate parties. Never mind this is the supposed bedrock of ANC the party of his chief campaigner Musalia Mudavadi
Sources say Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula are not happy with the manner in which Raila has been vigorously campaigning for ODM candidates against those fronted by affiliate parties. Shocker of shockers, Raila had even fielded a candidate against Wetangula who is fellow Nasa coprincipal, for Bungoma senate seat.
The strong feeling on the ground is that Raila should have withdrawn ODM candidates to back ANC and Ford-K to avoid a fall out. Raila, however, has maintained that his supporters should vote six-piece style. Raila had Edwin Sifuna to take on Wetangula for Bungoma senator race but he later had Sifuna shift to Nairobi. ODM initially had handed the senate certificate to Gabriel Bukachi. Other sources say Raila wanted Wetangula to shift base to Nairobi from Bungoma to create position for his ODM party.
In his recent foray in Kakamega, the Nasa flagbearer rooted for six-piece voting, meaning MCAs, woman representative, MP, senate, governor and president should be ODM.
His push was interpreted as meant to neutralise Mudavadi and Wetangula. All the three parties have fielded candidates for various seats in the region and this infighting could give Jubilee Party the advantage of winning crucial parliamentary seats there.
In Bungoma, calls by Ford Kenya chairman Wafula Wamunyinyi for Nasa affiliate parties not to field candidates in his party’s perceived strongholds have gone unheeded. Wamunyinyi is facing ODM’s John Makali in Kanduyi parliamentary seat.
Wetangula has been designated the position of deputy premier cabinet secretary in Nasa but shocked many when he presented his papers to IEBC to defend his Bungoma senate seat. Many interpreted this to mean that he is not convinced Nasa will win and is preparing a fallback cushion.
ANC and ODM have fielded candidates to oppose him, the former picking David Makali, while the latter handed a ticket to Boniface Nyongesa. The Jubilee candidate is Juma Mukhwana. According to Lugari MP, Ayub Savula, ODM should be contented with the presidential flagbearer post, which ANC and Ford Kenya leaders left for Raila and leave other elective posts in the region to other affiliate parties. Savula is facing ODM’s Nabii Nabwera who is a close associate of Raila and is Kakamega county chief of staff.
Kakamega senator Bonnie Khalwale has also told Raila to keep off Western politics and leave locals to decide who to elect instead of campaigning for his candidates. Khalwale, who is Ford Kenya deputy party leader is seeking to oust Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya who is the ODM deputy party leader and has the backing of Raila. Oparanya is among the governors bankrolling Raila’s campaigns.
During a rally in Kakamega, Khalwale publicly told Raila to campaign for presidential votes but to keep off other seats as well as gubernatorial and to let the people decide between him and Oparanya. Raila, however, has continued to campaign for Oparanya to the chagrin of Khalwale and other Western Kenya leaders allied to Mudavadi and Wetangula. Surprisingly in Kakamega, both Raila and Mudavadi have teamed up against Khalwale. In fact, ANC wanted its torchbearer, lawyer Michael Osundwa, to step down for Oparanya.
Matters are further getting complicated for Raila in Western due to the resentment from a section of ODM supporters who feel their candidates were rigged out of the party primaries. A case in point is in Khwisero, Shinyalu and Matungu where the nominations were marred by confusion and irregularities.
Khwisero MP Benjamin Andola and his Shinyalu counterpart Silverse Anami have since ditched ODM to contest as independent candidates describing the primaries as “shambolic”.
And in Bungoma, Nasa has fielded three candidates against incumbent governor Ken Lusaka who is defending his seat on Jubilee ticket. ODM has fielded Alfred Khang’ati while Wycliffe Wangamati is flying the Ford Kenya flag and Stephen Mutoro ANC. Lusaka, who has a Sabaot running mate from Mt Elgon, which has 66,000 voters, about 50,000 of them from the Saboat community, two weeks ago mobilised thousands of residents to attend Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign rally. The large turnout forced Nasa to go back to the drawing board. Political analysts say due to the Bungoma rally, Uhuru had to visit Kakamega twice in less than a week hoping to reap from Nasa’s poor strategy and greed.
And in Busia, Nasa is staring at defeat in the hands of an independent candidate, outgoing Funyula MP Paul Otuoma who is running as an independent for the gubernatorial seat. Otuoma has a large support base among the Luhya subtribes of Samia, Banyala, Marachi, Bakhayo and Batura. He is pitted against ODM’s Governor Sospeter Ojaamong whose support base is in Teso North and South. Other candidates for gubernatorial seat in Busia are Michael Oloo, Ford Kenya and Humphrey Nakitari, ANC both Luhyas. Mudavadi and Wetangula are said to be secretly supporting Otuoma to defeat Ojaamong. Raila’s move to support Busia women rep Florence Mutua, a Kamba married to a Luhya has not been received well by ANC and Ford K. In fact, it is said the Teso community will vote for Raila presidency but give other seats to Jubilee as it happened in 2013.
Come to Mudavadi’s Vihiga home turf, all is not well. Raila’s decision to back Governor Moses Akaranga of PPK party silently in Nasa has not been received well. To complicate matters is the fact that ODM has Wilber Ottichilo going for governorship with Yusuf Chanzu running on ANC ticket. Both parties have fielded candidates for various political seats in the county. However ANC and ODM are facing stiff competition from independent candidates who shifted base after the horrifying shambolic nominations. For now, ANC candidates across the country want Mudavadi to come to their rescue after being told to contribute each Sh30,000 to fund ANC dinner party in Nairobi where payment is to be through M-pesa.
In Kisiiland, ODM has fielded James Ongwae, the incumbent governor who is facing Wiper’s Lumumba Nyaberi. Efforts to have Nyaberi step down for Ongwae have failed. Wiper party leader Kalonzo has been crisscrossing the area campaigning for his candidate.
In Ukambani, Nasa is facing a serious challenge from Jubilee owing to internal fights with Nasa affiliates and lack of a coherent campaign message. The war of words between Kalonzo and Johnson Muthama has opened a chink for the ruling coalition to make inroads in the region. The emergence of Charity Ngilu of Narc in opposition top hierarchy is further confusing. The party has fielded candidates in Ukambani to battle with Kalonzo’s Wiper.
It is also interesting to note that whereas ODM has fielded candidates in all elective positions in Luhya region, Raila has largely kept off Ukambani giving Kalonzo’s Wiper an upper hand to battle it out with Jubilee. ODM’s most prominent candidate in Ukambani is Tom Luusa who is going for the Makueni constituency seat against Wiper’s Daniel Maanzo whom Kalonzo campaigned for in the Makueni Nasa rally that saw Wiper sideline other Nasa candidates like Makueni governor aspirant David Masika of PDP who was violently elbowed out of the dais by Wiper’s governor Kivutha Kibwana. Western Kenya leaders are, therefore, reading mischief in this double standards by Raila. They claim that the same logic that Raila used to withdraw ODM candidates from Ukambani is the same that happened in Garissa Town parliamentary seat after ODM’s candidate stepped down for the Wiper candidate Farah Maalim to square it out with Aden Duale.
According to political pundits, Nasa’s biggest baggage is influencing who gets elected in Luoland. Recently, Raila was humiliated by irate youths in his backyard who told off him for advocating six-piece voting. It is whispered in Migori that the governorship race, governor Okoth Obando gave a cool Sh100 million to Raila brother Oburu Odinga to get ODM ticket. He was fighting with Ochillo Ayacko. Ayacko is running as an independent.
In Kwale gubernatorial race, it is a do-or-die between ODM and Wiper. ODM has fronted Issa Athumani while Wiper has fronted former minister Chirau Mwakwere. Initially, Wiper had hoped ODM would support Mwakwere who had jumped ship from Jubilee.
In Kilifi, ODM also feels betrayed by ANC after Mudavadi fronted Benjamin Dandu against incumbent governor Amason Kingi. ODM claimed that Kingi being the incumbent should be the joint Nasa candidate.
And in Tana River county, Wiper fronted Abdi Nuh against ODM’s Godana Daddo while in Lamu, Wiper has Swale Salim against ODM’s Fadhil Abdalla. The incumbent governor is Issa Timammy of ANC and here again, Amani believes ODM and Wiper could have not fielded candidates against their governor.
A recent Nasa meeting in Lamu county has caused ripples. Governor Timammy is accused of having mismanaged the meeting which was attended by Mudavadi and Wetangula to suit his own whims.
Wiper and ODM candidates accuse the governor of frustrating Nasa. Wiper’s Albeity and his gubernatorial colleague Imu together with Fadhili say the meeting has played in favour of Jubilee.
Albeity said Nasa affiliate parties leaders from Wiper, ODM and Ford Kenya felt slighted and shortchanged. Mkunguni Square was turned into an ANC affair, he lamented.
In Taita Taveta, Granton Samboja who jumped ship from Jubilee to Wiper is facing ODM’s Thomas Mwadegu and Jacinta Mwatela of Amani. Wiper had hoped Samboja be granted Nasa’s support by Amani and ODM withdrawing their candidates.
And while in Kisii, ODM Ongwae and had also hoped that other Nasa affiliate parties would throw their weight behind him. Wiper has, however, fielded Lumumba Nyaberi. Ongwae had plotted on how to face Jubilee’s Chris Obure who decamped from ODM. Obure’s campaigns are said to be facing serious financial constraints after he allegedly differed with his running mate Albert Nyaundi over campaigns funds given by Jubilee during Uhuru’s tour of Kisii.
And from the capital Nairobi, there is internal competition within Nasa in a number of constituencies. In Ruaraka, Ongoro who decamped from ODM to Amani is facing the incumbent Kajwang’ of ODM while in Westlands, ODM’s Tim Wanyonyi who is the incumbent is facing Amin Walji of Amani.
The Luhya community in Nairobi is, however, crying foul, having been locked out of most elective positions.
A look at the list of ODM parliamentary candidates in the city shows that there are nine Luos,two Luhyas, two Kikuyus, one Asian, one Kisii, one Somali and one Meru.