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Baba's quest for power and glory in Addis will only end with tears without teargas

Azimio la Umoja Raila Odinga. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga aka Baba is back in the news as the nation readies to offer his candidature as the next chair of the African Union. And the big debate is whether he is a State project or not.

The bigger story is that Baba has been scammed big time to even consider this quest.

Here’s the thing: it might look regal and statesmanlike for him to receive presidents and guide them to their seats, dine and wine with them and have chase cars with blaring sirens when he rides through gridlocked traffic, but that will be the limits of his power.

Baba’s real power resides in the people - the base that he galvanises as no one ever does, or possibly ever will - and who hang on his every word as though it were the law. So, if he declared tomorrow a public holiday, then tomorrow shall be a public holiday, and it doesn’t need a gazette notice to be effected.

I hear even those that voted for “the other side” are asking for his intervention, apparently because things are only getting thicker, and they are keen on getting their disaffection registered on national platforms, the sort that Baba represents.

That’s the power that made Baba’s opponents who hire crowds quake in their boots because it’s scary, quite honestly, to have any one individual wielding so much power.

So, we need to know whose idea it was to remove Baba from the trenches and cast him into boardrooms where he is seen, not heard, a fitting metaphor for the eclipsing that awaits.

And whether he secures the seat of not, Baba’s goose is cooked. If he doesn’t clinch the seat and returns to the trenches, he will be cast as a sore loser. And if he clinches it and quickly changes his mind, after recognising he was given short shrift to return to local politics, the stigma of having been a State “project” will stick.

That could potentially whittle his influence, while providing a distraction from local political scene that sorely needs his energy and mobilising skills.