Opposition leader Raila Odinga (pictured) is leaving nothing to chance and is assembling a team as he trains his eyes on the 2022 presidential elections.
Raila has not come out openly to declare his candidature in the coming general election, but his allies led by Siaya Senator James Orengo have publicly said the former Prime Minister will be on the ballot.
At the burial of the mother of former Gem MP Joe Donde in August last year, the ODM leader said his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta was part of his change of strategy as he prepares for yet another stab at the top seat.
“You have seen me change tack. This is a strategy. There are several ways that can lead us to where our ambition is,” he said.
Fast forward to early 2019 and Raila is putting up a formidable formation that could be his team in the next polls.
Political analysts say he is using the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to plan his line up for 2022.
“It is pure politics and it is about 2022. Don’t be cheated, he is building his formation for the polls,” political analyst Javas Bigambo said.
Top on Raila’s lineup is President Kenyatta, who the former premier says he is helping in bringing the country together. The two politicians have become bosom friends since their March 9, 2018 handshake.
Uhuru, who by all indications has fallen out with his deputy William Ruto, could be the biggest endorser of the ODM leader.
But the president’s ally and former Jubilee Party vice-chair David Murathe has insinuated that President Kenyatta could still run for office as a Prime Minister if the BBI proposals are adopted as constitutional amendments.
The president’s hand has been visible in the BBI rallies in Kisii, Kakamega and yesterday in Mombasa, where Raila has been the chief guest. The three meetings have been graced by Cabinet secretaries.
Away from Uhuru, Raila has brought Interior CS Fred Matiang’í, Devolution’s Eugene Wamalwa, chairman of governors’ council Wycliffe Oparanya, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua to his inner circle.
During the Kisii meeting, Raila heaped praise on Matiang’í and announced that the BBI has united Nyanza.
“Nyanza will now talk as a community. Kisii, where we are meeting today, was for a long time the headquarters of South Kavirondo. If Nyanza is united, the whole country will be united,” Raila said.
The Interior CS insisted on the unity of the region to build a stronger and formidable political entity.
In the Western region, Raila has lined up both Wamalwa and Oparanya as his point men.
Raila’s new working pact with Oparanya, his ODM deputy party leader, and the Devolution CS is seen as a strategy to replace Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula who he worked with in 2017 under the National Super Alliance (NASA).
Mudavadi and Wetang’ula shelved their presidential ambitions and supported Raila’s presidential. Their falling out over Raila’s swearing in was aggravated by the handshake.
The choice of Oparanya and Wamalwa is seen as an attempt by Raila to have both the control of the vote.
But it is in Mt Kenya, a region that has never supported him, that could be his target prize.
A few months ago, Waiguru said that the former Central province was ready for a Raila presidency, insinuating that she had accepted and had become a close supporter of her one time political foe.
President Kenyatta, Ms Waiguru and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda are among those in the team that could help Raila in his bid.
The relationship between Uhuru and Raila is at its best and if that is sustained until 2022, President Kenyatta could be one of the biggest political assets for the Opposition leader.
In Ukambani, Raila is hoping Governor Mutua will be his point man.
The fallout in NASA seems to have planted a seed of discord that has put his relationship with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka in jeopardy.
The ODM leader is not expected to change his lineup in Coast, with Mombasa governor and Kilifi’s Amason Kingi being in control of the five counties.
On Monday, Raila hosted Kingi, Mombasa’s Hassan Joho, Tana River’s Dhado Godana and Taita Taveta’s Granton Samboja to plan the Mombasa rally and have the region together under his leadership.
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