After NASA’s loss, it’s time for Raila to exit the stage gracefully

Aden Duale

Raila Odinga’s name to his supporters has long been synonymous with a struggle for justice and multi-party democracy.

To his opponents and critics, he is seen as a power-crazed individual who has achieved little in his decades of public service and uses incitement and violence to gain attention and power.

However, what is most apparent in the days after the elections is that Mr Odinga is increasingly becoming politically irrelevant.

Magic is gone

Whatever magic he used to hold over millions of his supporters has waned, and there is no one to blame except himself.
It is clear the NASA experiment failed, just as CORD and many other alliances before it.

Mr Odinga was not able to inspire his people to the polls, and taken together, the five NASA principals politically slumped in their heartlands.

Making matters worse, Raila Odinga then used the space vacated by his opponent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who adhered to the laws of not proclaiming victory until the IEBC had released the final results, to incite and question the results.
As he has on many occasions in the past, Raila Odinga and his NASA partners called for “action”, demonstrations and strikes.

However, few stood behind or alongside him.

There appears to be no sign of a repeat of the bloodshed witnessed after the 2007 elections, and Sunday’s call for a countrywide strike fell on deaf ears.
Across the country, many shops and businesses remained open.
Additionally, Raila’s political partners have walked away from him, may be to secure their political careers.
Even his ally and former ODM Chief Whip, Jakoyo Midiwo, openly challenged his leader and called for an end to strikes and demonstrations and said the only people who will lose from these actions are his followers.
In fact, Mr Odinga’s strongest foreign ally, Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli, already congratulated President Uhuru Kenyatta on his election victory, becoming one of the first foreign leaders to do so.

The Tanzanian president understood early on what many others are starting to realise; that the ODM leader is a spent force and backing him will reap no rewards.

Raila has to now be put out to political pasture.

2022 race

His antics are already having ramifications for the 2022 race and anyone who is seen as overly supportive of Raila and his desperate attempts to remain relevant will, like him, be rejected by the people.

It is time to focus on the future and to do this, the Opposition must be seen as humble, democratic and accepting of the obvious will of the people.

A new cadre of leadership from among the NASA ranks, or whatever alliance will rise from its ashes, must begin by ridding itself of their failed leaders.

The ‘Young Turks’ within NASA should immediately admit defeat in these elections and start by addressing the reasons behind the loss at the polls.

They must start by understanding that NASA’s campaign failed because they had no coherent positive message for the Kenyan people, spending most of the elections talking about rigging and false accusations.

These abundantly paranoid accusations were not what Kenyans wanted to hear, especially the youth, who do not feel themselves as tribally affiliated as their elders.
The country rejected NASA and its leaders.

It is vital for Kenyan democracy that there is a strong Opposition who will monitor the performance of the government and promote an alternative, and NASA massive loss of credibility means there has to be a reengineering of sorts.

The options

An internal struggle may be long and bitter, because one thing the Mr Odinga has amply demonstrated is a tenacity to hold on to power unduly. However, the good news is that there are five years to make the changes necessary.

The media and the third sector should begin the process of putting the NASA brigade in the place their recent proclamations and utter loss have necessitated.
It is time for Kenya to move on to a post-Raila reality and rid our political class of those who seek to drag us backwards.

Kenyans have shown that we can hold free, fair and peaceful elections and punish those who adhere to old-fashioned tribalism and the threat of violence.

Mr Duale is the MP-elect for Garissa Township 

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