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Raila losing focus, but don’t write him off just yet

By Charles Mulila | November 16th 2014

There is a grave concern among die-hard supporters of Raila Odinga as the former PM and his political pillars viz Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula seek to navigate turbulent political waters occasioned by factors beyond their control.

In a country where dangling of political carrot is legion, Raila, the master political strategist, appears to be fast running out of political ideas as his supporters impatiently wait for him to remove yet another political card to send Jubilee panicking.
Fears about the political future of the CORD supremo have reached desperation levels. Keen observers will have noticed that during his tour of Kibra on Wednesday last week, the PM donned a hat captioned (RAO), initials for Raila Amolo Odinga. At a time when the Okoa Kenya plebiscite calls appears off the rails and therefore in limbo, one would have expected the former PM to have been popularising it at his Kibra political stronghold.

That this did not happen is a telling indictment on the future of the referendum calls whose current status is unknown.

Raila may have cut a stateman’s mien by supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts to upgrade the status of the Kibra houses. But by failing to pitch for the referendum, his pet subject for the last two months, speaks volumes about the status of the Okoa Kenya campaign at a time when the President’s political stock is growing.

For the first time since the passing on of Jaramongi Oginga in 1994, the Luo political juggernaut has started to question the wisdom of blind support for Jakom, as Raila is fondly referred to by his supporters.

The audacity by the powerful Luo Council of Elders to ‘anoint’ a successor for Raila speaks volumes about the disquiet in Luo Nyanza. Raila’s support in other parts of the country has not gone unchallenged. The Coast region, Ukambani, parts of the former Western and North Eastern Provinces are all engaging the ruling coalition “with a view to benefiting from development” for their people.

Obviously, the real reason for engaging the Presidency has little to do with the holloi polloi or development. It is a cliché for engaging the powers-that-be for selfish gains.

While Raila may be experiencing diminishing political returns, it will be foolhardy to dismiss him. When the Men in Black disrupted ODM elections and embarrassed the former premier, he took a self-imposed sabbatical to the US, re-energised himself only to make a grand return that shocked the state machinery.

During the scramble for FORD Kenya leadership in 1996 pitting him against the late late Kijana Wamalwa, Raila decamped the party Jaramogi founded, formed NDC and unsuccessfully vied for the Presidency in 1997.

Once in Parliament, NDC forged a working political and economic relationship with KANU that culminated in a merger with Jogoo in 2002. The merger did not last, ostensibly because Raila was opposed to then President Moi’s choice of successor Uhuru.

He went on to form LDP along with Kalonzo Musyoka, Prof George Saitoti, Adams Karauri, JJ Kamotho et al. LDP eventually supported NARC’s Mwai Kibaki via a hurriedly crafted MOU that was never meant to be honoured from day one. Raila had been duped.
Being the political tactician he is, Raila teamed up with then KANU chair Uhuru, William Ruto and Kalonzo to defeat the 2005 referendum that was driven by President Kibaki.

The political facts elucidated above give credence to the often stated fact that there are no permanent enemies in politics.

Raila, analysts say, is a political animal whose next political move can be predicted by only one person: Himself.

There are no known personal differences between Raila and President Kenyatta.
The former PM worked well with DP Ruto until his handlers realised the DP, a former KANU Director of Elections had his sights on higher political office. My prognosis? Never write off Raila Amolo Odinga. He could pen another MOU or forge an alliance with whoever adds value to his dwindling political fortunes.

His detractors, however, accuse him of propagating politics that only benefit him, but not the Luo people who have backed him for decades.

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