OPINION: Raila Odinga: The man who claims to have never lost yet he has never won a Presidential race

The possibility of the repeat Presidential election set for later this month happening has been opened up to serious public debate and concern following the withdrawal of Raila Odinga’s candidature.

While the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Jubilee Party have clarified and insisted that the election will go on as planned, the question in the minds of the common man remains; why does the Kenyan Opposition chief always seem to be frustrating the electoral process?

A keen look at the previous electoral processes that Mr. Odinga has contested portrays a common trend; he never concedes defeat and will do whatever it takes to get to the country’s top seat.


This was Mr. Odinga’s first stab at the Presidency in which his National Development Party (NDP) came a distant third.

Opposition leaders, Mr. Odinga included, jointly contested the elections results claiming the process was marred with malpractices and irregularities. Interestingly, Mr. Odinga, was on the side, having parallel negotiations with President Moi in a bid to join forces.

Some opposition leaders warned him that his deal with KANU would not materialise. Most significantly, members of the Odinga family called a press conference to oppose that move but Raila stuck to his guns. Nothing was going to stop his personal thirst of being in power.

In 1998, NDP and KANU got politically married.


The KANU-NDP cooperation stretched before the 2002 General Election with Mr. Odinga still his party’s leader expressing willingness to form a Government of national unity or a coalition government with KANU.

On March 8, 2002 a merger between NDP and KANU was sealed at a colourful national ceremony at the present day Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.

The new structure had Mr. Moi as National chairman while Mr. Odinga landed the most powerful Secretary General seat. Cabinet Ministers, Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka and Katana Ngala were elected Vice-chairmen.

This was the moment Mr. Odinga was waiting. To be crowned Moi’s successor. He was an inch away to the Presidency.

However, Moi threw a spanner into the works and dramatically picked political novice Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor. Mr. Odinga’s plan had been scuttled.

Immediately, Mr. Odinga dissented and formed a rebellious alliance with George Saitoti, Mr Musyoka, and Najib Balala dubbed Rainbow Alliance, within KANU.

They later joined little known Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), then NAC and FORD-P to later form the gigantic National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).

Again in this formation, Mr. Odinga hoped to be named flag bearer against Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa, Charity Ngillu, Simeon Nyachae and Kalonzo Musyoka. Mr. Kibaki carried the day and subsequently became the country’s third president.

A position of Prime Minister was mooted and it was assumed that with Mr. Kibaki running for President, the all new powerful Prime Minister's post would go to Mr. Odinga.

While the presidency had a two-term limit, the proposed Prime Minister's office had no term limits. Mr. Odinga saw himself ruling forever. This was the main reason why he backed Mr. Kibaki for the top seat.

The problem with the proposed constitutional changes was that it was based on an assumption that KANU would win the presidency but the opposition would have a parliamentary majority. Hence, the executive Prime Minister would come from the party or coalition with the most seats in the House.

Now that NARC had taken both the presidency and most parliamentary seats, the purpose of the proposed constitutional changes had been achieved and thus the Government no longer saw a need to review the Constitution.


Once his plans to attain top office were scuttled again, under the LDP umbrella, Mr. Odinga began campaigning against President Kibaki by engineering ethnic tension.

Instead of an executive Prime Minister, as was in the 2002 draft, the new draft proposed that the Presidency retains most of its powers with the Prime Minister exercising delegated authority.

As expected, Raila rejected the move seeing it as an attempt to rob him of executive authority. That notwithstanding, the new draft constitution was put to a referendum.

The Orange alliance led by Mr. Odinga capitalized on the built up tribal sentiment to mobilise votes against the 2002 draft. A new phrase was coined: “41-1” meaning that out of the 42 tribes in Kenya, 41 were against the draft. With a Clear Orange win in this contest, the Odinga-led team was very ecstatic and called for immediate elections.


A new party, Orange Democratic (ODM) Kenya was formed through a merger of LDP, Labor Party of Kenya and other fringe parties. They had equal say but Mr. Odinga could not stomach it. He felt he did not have enough control within the party and thus quickly went in search of lawyer Gitobu Imanyara who owned the original Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Mr. Odinga quickly gained control of ODM and within a short while, he had made alliances with other politicians to seem to be a national party. They used the tribal card against President Kibaki, again.

Claims of rigging emerged shortly before the December 27, 2007 elections and after Kibaki was declared winner and hurriedly sworn in, Mr. Odinga mobilised his troops and rejected the results.

The country was on the brink of full blown civil war but a negotiated Coalition government with Mr. Odinga as Prime Minister stopped the bloodbath.


The same script was acted after the hotly contested 2013 elections with Mr. Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) of Mr. Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula claiming the election was stolen in favour of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

Together with a consortium of civil society groups, CORD petitioned the win in the Supreme Court. The court affirmed President Kenyatta’s win forcing Raila to accept the ruling even though he disagreed with it.

The same script of previous elections with Mr. Odinga featuring prominently happened in this year’s August 8 elections. Kenyans are now even confused whether a repeat election occasioned by the same man will happen.


Today, in the hands of one man — Raila Amolo Odinga — the country is staring at a political and Constitutional crisis with just a few days to Election Day.

He rejected both dates released by IEBC for repeat election and eventually pulled out of the race claiming the IEBC must be reformed first.

It is therefore clear from the aforementioned cases that ever since the opposition leader, Raila Amollo Odinga, started contesting for the top office, he has never won yet in all instances, he has maintained the habit of rejecting results, attacking constitutional bodies, claiming vote rigging, forcing power sharing arrangements and causing massive tension across the country for his own good.