Politicians from the region attribute the growing support for Raila to William Ruto’s apparent political wavering. Over the last two weeks, the Eldoret North MP’s presidential bid has come under attack from Lugari MP, Cyrus Jirongo. He has claimed Ruto “is not serious” about his bid “because he is part of a wider scheme to back someone else instead”.
Whether or not the sentiments have been digested accordingly, Raila is headed to the region in a fortnight to cement the gains and kick off his presidential bid. This is supposed to coincide with Kosgey’s second ‘homecoming’ party – possibly to celebrate his return to the Cabinet.
Besides the focus on Rift Valley, reliable sources say the Raila team is also toying with the idea of presenting to Kenyans a ticket of reformers: This is where the name of Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara features. But Imanyara, who is a member of the famed Young Turks that pushed for the ‘second liberation’ in the 1990s, is yet to cross over to ODM.
The choice of a running mate is not only a major headache for Raila. Except for Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who has identified Trade Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, other presidential aspirants including, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, deputy premiers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi, and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua are still agonising over this question.
In ODM, Mudavadi was the obvious choice until he defected to United Democratic Forum. Before he fled, Joint Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo concedes the situation was tougher for the PM. This, he explains, is because the Raila-Mudavadi pair was viewed as a concluded presidential ticket and, did not therefore, generate new excitement or attract other players to the party.
Most sought after
“Mudavadi was like a man who had wedded Raila and few therefore cared to admire or woo him. But the exit of Mudavadi has finally exposed Raila as a beauty, and a most sought-after political bride,” says Midiwo.
Without disclosing names, the Gem MP confided in The Standard On Sunday that the PM has since received political overtures from many players and parties. Raila, says Midiwo, has equally reached out to many, including mending fences with former allies.
But Mudavadi, whose seat is one of those the Orange party is keen to give out, claims the PM is only using the ministerial and Government positions as a bait to keep some MPs in ODM.
The thinking in the Mudavadi camp, according to his spokesman Kibisu-Kabatesi, is that, by not relinquishing his position, the DPM is, in fact, doing Raila a “favour”. The PM, he says, would have an even bigger headache of political balancing were Mudavadi to relinquish his position. In the meantime, Raila’s presidential bid team has also unveiled a new lobby, Orange Council of Elders to complement campaign efforts of Bishop Margaret Wanjiru-Ababu Namwamba Orange Reloaded team.
Curiously, Rift Valley’s Kosgey is the interim leader of the team, which comprises of Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim (North Eastern), Ramadhan Kajembe and Gideon Mung’aro (Coast), and Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya (Western). Others are Lands Minister James Orengo and Chris Obure, representing Nyanza, Fred Gumo (Nairobi), and Ngilu (Eastern).
Orange elder from central Kenya are yet to be identified, although Imanyara serves as the PM’s deputy patron of Friends of Raila lobby.