What are Raila Odinga’s chances of winning in 2022?

Raila Odinga
  • There is a clear indication that Uhuru may prefer Gideon Moi to Raila Odinga.
  • The president has proved to be a smooth schemer, a ruthless heartbreaker who has no regards for friends and foes alike.
  • My honest take is that Uhuru is using Raila to demolish Ruto before he finally dumps the ODM leader.

Just how much trust should Raila Odinga invest in Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of 2022?

Going by the past political intrigues, Uhuru might throw Raila under the bus yet again, exactly the same way Kibaki abandoned him in 2013.

The president has proved to be a smooth schemer, a ruthless heartbreaker who has no regards for human feelings whatsoever. See how he tore up his deputy to tiny pieces? What makes Raila think he’s any special and can be treated any different?

My honest take is that Uhuru is using Raila to destroy Ruto before he finally dumps him. There are two scenarios here, all indicating that Uhuru might be killing two birds with one stone.

Deputy President William Ruto and his Tangatanga brigade have successfully sewn a conspiracy theory against the ODM leader, painting him as the man behind their woes at Jubilee. Instead of them blaming Uhuru for shoving Ruto aside, they are heaping blame on Raila whom they accuse of creating a wedge between the president and his deputy.

The idea is to put Raila on a collision course with the Kalenjin community. Uhuru is aware that such a scheme will go a long way to cause irreparable damage in the relationship between Raila’s camp and that of the DP. Kibaki succeeded in pitting Raila against the Kalenjin community just before the 2013 elections when he used him to throw out inhabitants of the Mau Forest.

The move proved fatal to Raila’s quest to succeed Kibaki as the Kalenjin openly snubbed him while opting to rally their weight behind a political alliance that revolved around the Uhuru-Ruto axis.

Same script, different cast

The script is the same, only the cast is different. Uhuru knows very well that Raila is already an anathema to the Kalenjin community. They would hear none of him come 2022. They now view him as the bad boy who snatched their share of the National cake and fed it to his own community.

The second scenario is that Raila is sharing in Uhuru’s failures. The president is already under censure from members of his own community who blame him for a ruined economy. Raila, having entered into an informal coalition with Uhuru through March 9 Handshake is now regarded as part and parcel of the Uhuru-led administration.

This means that he bears the burden of incumbency, a fact that might destroy his stab at the presidency more than it could serve to bolster him.

All in all, there is very little that Raila and his supporters already have in the bag to smile about. They are in government only on paper. The wrangles over who should fill the lacuna of leadership left behind after Ruto’s allies were evicted from key parliamentary positions is a clear sign that all is not well.

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Mbadi and Murathe reading from different scripts

Whereas ODM chairman John Mbadi suggests that Jubilee should leave the seats for members of his party so as to avoid the possibility of Ruto allies staging a comeback through a coup, Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe thinks that his party has already ceded too much ground by accommodating the opposition in what they’ve given them so far.

The ODM brigade should also carefully examine the contents of the BBI report. It could just be another tight noose around Raila’s ambition. There is no guarantee that Raila will be a beneficiary of the proposed constitutional amendments. He may again be used as a conduit and then be left all alone once the document is delivered.

Should any of the above situations arise, Raila will have been left in a tight corner. A political lone ranger, he will have no option than to play second fiddle. Ruto will have already consolidated his position as a candidate and if Raila decides to work with him, he will be forced to accept the possibility of being Ruto’s running mate.

The BBI is rooting for an expanded executive. If the document passes, Uhuru’s team will have a field day even without Raila’s support. They may choose to offer attractive and influential positions to key political leaders from the major ethnic communities and still make it to a comfortable win.

Should that turn out to be the case, Raila might find himself in his biggest political dilemma yet. Politically, Ruto will have gained a lot of ground by then, as the official leader of the opposition. If Raila decides to go it alone, he might end up as the third most popular candidate because the opposition leader is always the second most popular candidate.

Gideon Moi might be Uhuru’s preferred heir to the throne.

What are Raila Odinga's chances of winning in 2022? 3
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

There is a clear indication that Uhuru may prefer to endorse Gideon Moi over Raila Odinga. Such a decision could be informed by two factors. Uhuru feels indebted to Moi’s family because they literally carved his path to State House when the late former president Daniel arap Moi picked him from political anonymity to the limelight of presidential aspirations in 2002 when he lost to Mwai Kibaki.

It has also become increasingly difficult to sell Raila Odinga in the Mt. Kenya region due to historical differences between the Luo and Kikuyu communities. While the former chose to put past suspicions aside for the sake of a political unity upon which Kibaki rode to power, the latter deserted Raila in his hour reckoning, choosing instead to support one of their own in 2013 and 2017.

Interestingly, whereas the Kikuyu community bore the wrath of the Kalenjin community the most during the 2007 post elections violence, they still prefer Ruto to Raila Odinga. The Luo and the Kikuyu have never seen eye to eye since the fallout between Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga a few years after independence.

Members of the Kikuyu community who are opposed to a Raila presidency now claim that they don’t want to paint the community in bad light by backtracking on their pledge to support Ruto, an excuse that appears to be as lame as it comes given that they never kept their promise to support Raila Odinga in 2013. In fact, the community even went ahead and abandoned Kalonzo Musyoka who was Kibaki’s deputy.

Can Raila Odinga trust the Kikuyu to support him in 2022?

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Raila should not sit on his laurels. He should continue to drum up more support either directly or by proxy. Ruto is already campaigning. He began with fundraising for churches before his activities were abruptly stopped by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. He has now adopted an entirely new approach, electing to receive voters at his Karen home under the guise of youth and women empowerment exercise. Undoubtedly, he is gaining ground as Raila continues with his deafening silence.

His big job at the African Union was a ploy to silence him. It has succeeded in watering down his fame if not popularity. As deputy President William Ruto continues to high the headlines, Raila Odinga is gradually sinking into political oblivion.

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