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Raila has run out of luck, let him endorse someone else

Michael Ndonye
 Azimio leader Raila Odinga. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

There is little chance that Raila will endorse Kalonzo Musyoka, though that is the best option he has for 2027. We will keep thudding on the ears of Kenyans that the closest Raila Odinga can come to the State House in the future is to endorse someone else, even if that person is not the Wiper party leader.

However, just like before 2022 when Raila confused his power to endorse with the power to become, all indications are that we might be headed to the 'sixth Raila moment' in 2027. The fact that Kenyans are reading too much into Raila’s political moves proves they are unconsciously aware of his political apocalypse. The most recent political horoscope is speculation following Raila's praise of Kalonzo during Oburu Oginga's birthday celebration in Bondo, Siaya County, on October 15.

Later, Raila came out, confuting suggestions that he endorsed the Wiper party leader candidacy in 2027. Kenyans know that Raila, as influential in politics as he is, has minimal chances of becoming president, although all things are possible in politics. However, he has the blessings that can catapult another person straight to State House should he utilise them well.

Mr Odinga’s power to endorse is a well-known secret by his political pillagers. Regrettably, that could be why they will convince him to run for the sixth time come 2023. They will not be interested in his winning but in using him to endorse them for their political expediency.

The fact that most ODM-elected legislators after the 2022 elections started drifting away and aligning with the government speaks volumes. We are already seeing his erstwhile political buddies who think he is becoming politically obsolete, still threatening to abandon the Opposition leader.

Toward 2027, most of these politicians will weigh his political strength to decide if they will return to him—if they do, he will be glad to receive them and rebuild his political virility. This deceptive following makes it look like Raila has the power to become. Raila's 'power to become' ended in 2013 when he lost the first election under the 2010 constitutional dispensation.

The political narrative then was that he belonged to the old order (analogue) and that the then UhUruto belonged to the new order (digital), even of the then young constitution that Raila supposedly helped to maiden while he was prime minister under the Kibaki coalition government.

Therefore, the 2017 and 2022 Raila presidential contestations anchored on this deception—most of his politician supporters, especially those from his strongholds, buoyed him conditionally—their interests were consciously or unconsciously political stone stepping. What, then, should be the future of Raila's political spin? If Raila benefits from participating in elections as a predetermined runner-up, he will never endorse someone else to run as president.

A lead benefit of such a move is to have many of his party members elected and, therefore, secure a voice in the two legislative houses. It gives him prominence and influence to protect his interests even outside the political pitch. On the other hand, Raila might take a different direction by killing two birds with one stone. Even when he cannot be as influential if he not running for president, he has the 'kinging' power for someone else.

This Political Chessboard has made similar conclusions and recommendations before. Before 2022, I suggested that if Raila endorsed another candidate, his choice would have had a better chance of winning. 2027 will not be any easier; such a chance will most likely will have gone down—just like the chances of him winning have packed up.

If Raila believes there is a candidate who can defeat William Ruto, he better endorse him—just like he did in 2002 when, alongside other politicians, he endorsed Mwai Kibaki. However, his political armbearers might not be ready to let him go because of their political agendas.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University.

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