Speculations are rife that political factotums orbiting around Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are considering fielding a compromise presidential candidate in 2022.
Already, word has it that if Raila faces deputy president William Ruto, the possibility of him being defeated is high. To complicate matters is the fact that the larger Kenyatta family seems comfortable with Baringo senator Gideon Moi succeeding Uhuru.
But what has surprised the family are reports that Gideon, if he faces Ruto, will be wiped out.
Whereas Raila is under pressure from his allies to run in 2022 to help them win seats since without Raila they stand no chance, it is said the president has an interest in who succeeds him while Raila is considering retiring to secure a legacy of a man who was not power hungry.
The compromise presidential candidate is the best bet for the two leaders who had in the past pledged to back their running mates for the top seat.
In the 2013 and 2017 campaigns, Uhuru pledged to back Ruto while Raila offered to be a one-term president, saying he would throw his weight behind Kalonzo Musyoka.
But with time running out, they are now shopping for a candidate who will not polarise the country along ethnic lines. Talk is rife within the political setup that Uhuru and Raila are being advised not to back any person they entered into an alliance with ahead of 2017 general elections. It is on these grounds that Uhuru’s relationship with Ruto is chilling day and night.
On the other side, Raila has deserted his Nasa co-principals Kalonzo, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and Isaac Ruto.
For Kalonzo, many, including Uhuru and Raila, are of the view backing him will cause a serious backlash in Mudavadi’s backyard, a critical voting bloc, hence giving the DP an advantage.
The Wiper leader, Uhuru and Raila say in private, lacks the financial muscle to mount a presidential campaign to challenge Ruto, who has reportedly amassed over Sh100 billion for the campaigns.
For Mudavadi, though a gentleman and likeable individual, he also lacks the financial muscle to challenge Ruto.
His presidential bid will also not go well with Kalonzo’s Ukambani backyard, hence giving Ruto another advantage as he is likely to bag the Eastern votes.
Sources aver that the political class has trained their eyes on Gideon but with a lot of doubts. To help Gideon win is to create new political seats to be dangled to powerful political forces based in various regions. However, the move has been sold to a number of powerful politicians who have completely dismissed Gideon factor in 2022. Gideon was being used to checkmate Ruto in Kalenjin politics but has failed spectacularly.
Weekly Citizen has information that having discovered Gideon and Ruto political battles have caused discontent among Rift Valley voters, a third neutral force in the region revolving around CCM is taking shape in Kalenjinland.
CCM, sources say, plans to field businessman David Langat as a new compromise presidential face from the region and bargain of the community at national level. It is on these grounds that CCM associated with former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto has seen recent trooping back of powerful Kalenjin politicians among them, then rebel Jubilee MPs and Zedekiah Bundotich aka Buzeki. Just like in 2013 when DP Ruto rebranded URP with the support of Kalenin tycoons, CCM is bound to emerge in the same style in 2022.
Besides being moneyed well enough to challenge Ruto, Gideon is also relatively young having been born on October 22 1963. However, his networking is poor and uncoordinated. In terms of wealth, Gideon is richer than Ruto and that is why they were pushing for his candidature. Gideon is however poorer than Ruto in generosity. We could not establish the fortunes of Langat but a source well versed with Kalenjin politics revealed that he was one of the key financiers of Jubilee in 2013 together with Jimmy Wanjigi.
Gideon’s presidency is being pushed by his father who in 2002 and 2017 elections persuaded him to support Uhuru. In 2013, during Mwai Kibaki succession race, Gideon and Moi family threw their weight behind Mudavadi to split Western vote bloc in favour of Uhuru.
But Uhuru and Raila fear is of a political backlash particularly if Ruto succeeds to sell the narrative of dynasties versus hustlers in his president bid.
For now, Ruto, since the handshake between Uhuru and Raila, has been fueling talks of dynasties ganging up to consolidate power in 2022 at his expense.
He has even dismissed the clamour for constitutional amendments as selfish and promised to take on those who “believe the sons and daughters of the poor can’t lead” the country.
Gideon, who has already announced his intentions to run in the 2022 elections, which will test his political abilities and his ability to fundraise, either from his wealth or from his supporters, also lacks the charisma besides being mean, traits the two leaders fear can make him mince meat for the deputy president whose magnanimity is legendary.
Another major setback for the scion of Kenya’s second president is his involvement in graft. He was named in the Kroll report, which was commissioned in 2004 by Kibaki to trace assets of people who were suspected of looting the state as having stolen over US$550 million.
His candidature is also being silently opposed by some members of the Moi family, who accuse him of tricking their father to register most of his wealth in his name.
Fred Matiang’i, the Interior cabinet secretary is also being touted as a possible compromise candidate.
Today, Matiang’i is the most powerful CS after Uhuru handed him sweeping powers on the oversight of government programmes.
He chairs a key committee on the implementation of development programmes, whose membership includes all cabinet secretaries, the Attorney General and Head of the Public Service, a mandate that has elevated him to a “prime minister or chief minister”.
Insiders say Uhuru and Raila are toying with the idea of marketing Matiang’i as the best presidential candidate.
It is to be recalled that a year ago in Nyeri county, a furious Uhuru declared his choice for 2022 might surprise many Kenyans.
“Don’t take my silence as a sign of cowardice. When that time comes, I will shock many of you. For now, let’s work to better the lives of Kenyans,” he said in what was seen by many as an expression of frustration that he no longer enjoys the influence he had in Central.
Matiang’i could be the surprise pick by Uhuru and Raila due to his competence and also comes from a politically neutral community of Abagusii hence he will neutralise the ethnic tensions and equation.
However, the two leaders are also wary of the Interior CS’s combative nature, which can drive voters away.
It is an open secret that Machakos governor Alfred Mutua has been indicating that he will run in the 2022 presidential race. Another face from Ukambani is Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana.
From Coast, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho’s name emerges. However, Joho name has been soiled in the eyes of Kenyans and will be forced to fight like DP Ruto to clean it.
But analysts aver that Kivutha and Mutua’s candidature is not likely to excite even the Kambas so long as Kalonzo is in the field.
Mutua’s perceived involvement in graft is also another major setback coupled with his pride.
Another name popping up is that of Education cabinet secretary Geoge Magoha. However, his lack of experience in the political arena coupled with his meagre resources is the major drawback.
Apart from Mombasa governor Joho, his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi name remotely features.
Both have expressed interest to campaign for the presidency in 2022 even though Joho has been more vocal about this than Kingi. Joho undoing is also his Arab lineage that has seen him being referred to as Sultan. The Sultans are associated with slave trade among the Mijikendas and Kambas.
Before the March 2018 handshake, Joho and Kingi were the staunchest critics of the Jubilee government and its leadership, Uhuru and Ruto.
The handshake has since cooled down the political temperatures to the advantage of Joho. Besides his role as the ODM pointman at the Coast, Joho is Raila’s most trusted politician in the region.
Joho has repeatedly stated he wants to oppose Ruto and is vocal that he is the most suitable person from the Coast to vie for the presidency.
On his part, Kingi prefers political unity of the coastal communities before going for the presidential slot.
Many a time, he has suggested the establishment of a homegrown regional party to unify the people, build a solid voting bloc and move on to the top seat. For Joho, ODM is his preferred party.
For the Mombasa governor, he is a hard sell due to his alleged links with drug dealers and money launderers while Kingi lacks the financial muscle to campaign outside Kilifi, and also the charisma to win over voters.
The name of Mukhisa Kituyi is also popping up as the best compromise candidate. It Kibwana who let the cat out of the bag when he heaped praises on Kenya’s Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development for his excellent leadership skills and acumen.
The county boss said based on Kituyi’s work experience at the global arena, the former MP had all it takes to be the best presidential bet for Kenya.
He described him as fresh and a man who has worked at international level.
But critics point out that his arrogance as the major undoing. He is also unable to command a big constituency, even in his Bukusu backyard.
Another name popping up is that of of Kibawna himself. The Makunei governor is a man on the lip of every Kenyan who follows after launching massive projects in his county.
His official Facebook page is one that teems with admiration and appreciation each passing day and in 2018, Kenyans endorsed him for the top seat come 2022.
Indeed, some Kenyans have been urging former Gichugu MP Martha Karua to become Kibwana’s running mate in the 2022 presidential election.
Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya who is serving his last term in office and has worked as a cabinet minister is also being touted as a compromise presidential candidate.
Oparanya has promised to go for the presidency and even asked his party leader to support his bid. He is not being taken seriously on ground.
But if Oparanya goes for the presidency, he will most likely have a pivotal role in helping a presidential candidate make a big impact, especially if he can galvanise the Luhya nation around him.
When Uhuru met governors elected on the ticket of Jubilee Party and its affiliates and they agreed to elect Kwale governor Salim Mvurya as chairman of the council of governors, many thought he was being positioned for a higher calling.
For now, the person to neutralise Ruto presidential bid and to avoid backlash in Rift Valley, according to strategists in Uhuru succession must come from the community and need to be saleable.
Other communities will get positions to be created in a new constitution in a referendum being pushed to avoid the winner take it all concept that sidelines other tribes. Whereas talk is rife that the referendum budget was not factored in the recent budget, it can be taken care of during supplementary estimates.
Also being mentioned is Peter Kenneth who tried his luck in 2013.