To fit into Raila's shoes, you must be highly disruptive


Azimio Leader Raila Odinga announced his intention to go for AU's top position. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Following Raila Odinga’s possible ascendancy to the African Union Commission chairmanship, the matter of his succession in politics must be on the table.

The noise around his possible candidacy in 2027 was starting to sound nauseating to some supporters. I can bet he didn’t like it but still couldn’t avoid it.

However, going by current developments, he will have to be succeeded not just in Azimio and ODM, but in the political space where he has enjoyed fanatical support for years. His succession in Azimio will be an easy one.

If the trajectory of governance does not change anytime soon and the disillusionment continues, Kenyans will be looking for an option and that option can only be in the opposition. The next senior most leader in Azimio is obviously Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The mood on the ground is Raila’s supporters would be ready to pay him back for unwavering support and loyalty towards Raila since 2013. Azimio also boasts an avalanche of leaders who know what they must do to earn their rights on the high table, which is numbers.

It will get harder in ODM, where he has been the centre bolt ever since the party was formed nearly 20 years ago. The fortunes of the party have also largely been dependent on the likelihood of him forming government having been a candidate in every election.

Whoever is seeking to inherit Raila in ODM or just tapping into his political base, must nurse ambitions of becoming president at some point in future. Thus he must be young, ambitious and disruptive. He must also have ability to create and sustain political networks in and outside the country.

He must have money too. Politics in Kenya needs a strong financial muscle. The succession of Raila in ODM is also dependent on who is able to keep Nyanza, Western and Coast regions intact. 

ODM enjoy massive support in these regions. However, even with Raila still in leadership, the ruling party, UDA, has continued to make calculated efforts to split those numbers. Those efforts will be taken to a new level if Raila succeeds in his AU quest and exits the political space.

As I list these qualities, the names of Embakasi MP Babu Owino and Kisii Governor Simba Arati pop up. In many other forums and discussions, the names of former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna have popped up too.

All said and done, there wasn’t going to be a more honourable exit for Raila than going for the AU Commission chairmanship.

The role will not just be what football commentators call ‘bao la kufutia machozi’, but more. It will expand Raila’s profile beyond Kenya and crown his long career by being Baba wa Africa. Wish you well, Baba.

The writer is anchor Radio Maisha

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