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How NASA death turned into a blessing for Raila Odinga

By Jacob Ng'etich | Dec 10th 2021 | 4 min read

ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) during a past event at the KICC, December 2021. [Samson Wire, Standard].

Political manoeuvres and bad blood that led to the dissolution of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) provided a window for ODM leader Raila Odinga to make his fifth stab at the presidency.  Had the 2017 coalition remained intact, the former prime minister would have found it difficult to contest next year’s presidential bid.

A pact between him and his former partners – Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) – would have curtailed Raila’s ambitions.

In an interview with The Standard, Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, an ally of the ODM leader who registered Nasa, confirmed what Raila’s erstwhile allies have been clinging on to as truth.

“The deal was that ODM would not produce a presidential candidate in 2022. This, technically, would have blocked Raila from contesting in the next elections. So, when the Nasa principals dissolved the coalition, it gave Raila a golden chance to run again,” said Osotsi.

He said the 2017 pact dictated that Raila would only serve for a single term and give room for one of the principals in 2022.

Osotsi said the deal signed by all the principals and their witnesses and deposited in the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties would see Kalonzo, Mudavadi or Wetang’ula vie for the top seat whether Raila won the 2017 poll or not.

“Today Raila is enjoying the political freedom to vie for the presidency without the baggage from the Nasa deal,” said the MP who plans to run for the Vihiga Senate seat after decamping from ANC to ODM.

Indeed, the baggage of expectation from his allies weighed Raila down in the wake of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s swearing-in for a second term. While Raila strived to retain his political stature, he avoided stepping on the toes of his Nasa co-principals.

And Raila’s allies had stuck by his side, supporting even the most unprecedented of his political moves. Within the Nasa principals, perhaps, lay the hope that Raila would drop his ambitions to back one, if not all, of them.

But the former prime minister would later unleash a bombshell, announcing that the deal he had signed only held if he had won the presidential election. His former partners struck back, accusing the ODM chief of dishonesty.

Still, they remained together. The apparent implosion of their coalition – whose genesis is traceable to Raila’s mock swearing-in in January 2018, an event the other principals skipped – was dismissed as sibling rivalry. A storm in a teacup. Yet that was Nasa’s death knell.

Former NASA principals ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Raila Odinga (ODM), and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetangula. [File, Standard]

As his previous backers accused him of betrayal, Raila had seemingly kicked off his 2022 campaigns for the presidency, first through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and later the Azimio la Umoja campaign, which he unveiled in August after the dissolution of Nasa.

“We told Raila to move on and go to the people. His former partners would catch up later,” said Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who added that ODM was courting back its former allies.

Since then, Raila has moved across the country, dissecting problems facing mwananchi, including political exclusion, divisive electoral processes, insecurity, corruption and poor economy.

Raila plans to launch his fifth presidential bid today at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani, Nairobi.  

That would have perhaps been a tall order had the unity of purpose of the defunct Nasa held.

Osotsi said unity would have ensured a momentous movement, exuding confidence that One Kenya Alliance (OKA) was just a holding ground before the principals regroup to actualise the third and final revolution by having him take over as the fifth president.

“I foresee Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi, Wetang’ula and Kalonzo working with Raila to form a grand coalition. I am not sure about Mudavadi but he seems to be under pressure to either go it alone or side with Deputy President William Ruto,” said Osotsi.

He warned that the ANC leader risks going into political oblivion if he bows to pressure from legislators who are pushing him to run so that they can get an opportunity to win their seats.

“Mudavadi should be wary of those claiming to be close to him. They want to benefit from his candidature, which will be an anti-climax. We also know that the same MPs are meeting Ruto at night and are busy preaching Mudavadi gospel during the day,” said the lawmaker.

“OKA leaders should read the signs and know that they won’t succeed in their presidential bid. They stand a better chance of forming the government in 2027 if they support Raila now,” Oparanya said. 

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