ODM leader Raila Odinga.
ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Image: FILE

ODM leader Raila Odinga’s 2022 candidature could jolt a plan by Nasa principals to front a single presidential candidate to take on Deputy President William Ruto.

The party on Wednesday revealed it will begin selecting a presidential candidate – considered a procedural technicality – that would culminate in the endorsement of Raila as its 2022 flagbearer.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession strategists are said to have been working on a grand scheme to stop DP William Ruto’s ascension to State House by pushing for a joint Nasa candidate.

However, the latest move by the ODM party to declare Raila its 2022  flagbearer could plunge the Uhuru succession matrix into jeopardy, with affiliate parties saying they cannot support Raila for a third time

The Nasa trio of Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka  (Wiper) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) have separately been toying with the idea of holding together and running against Raila and Ruto.

It is not clear, however, if the three can agree among themselves as Kalonzo and Musyoka insist they want to be president.

Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo.
STICK TOGETHER: Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo/File

 Wetangula however said they are not bothered with the ODM declaration since Raila has repeatedly declared that Nasa is dead.

He however reiterated that himself, Kalonzo and Wetangula are working together and would at the opportune time declare their presidential flag bearer.

“The ODM announcement that they are seeking presidential candidate is actually a ploy because they will eventually settle on Raila,” Wetangula told the Star. “But their declarations strengthen our resolve to stay together.”

He complained ODM has withheld political parties billions from them, right from the time of CORD, a matter he said they have taken to the political parties dispute tribunal

However, pressed whether they can still work with Raila again, Wetangula retorted, “in politics, you don’t say never. William Shakespeare said politics is the art of the impossible.”

The former senate minority leader appeared to admit that their disunity could offer Ruto a field day, saying there is strength in unity

“The altruism [that they will hand together if they don’t stick together] is not only applicable because William Ruto is a candidate. Its applies in all situations because unity is strength,”he stated.

But Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo termed ODM move as “a clever strategy”

“At the moment, that is a very clever strategy so that they can first of all galvanize their respective bases. I believe they eventual will form an alliance. But there is no way you will persuade supporters of any of those candidates, at this point in time, that you are not vying,”Mutula told the Star

 “Any attempt for Raila or Kalonzo or Musalia to say they are not vying equals the end of their career. They are much better off, like we see Musalia is consolidating ANC…that helps. It is not any different from what happened in 2017,”

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, an ally of Kalonzo, insisted the Nasa trio has no option but to stick together if they seek to vanquish Ruto.

“If they don’t work together they will definitely lose against Ruto in 2022,” Maanzo told the Star.

Maanzo said the DP has built a formidable hustler nation movement that would require a united approach by presidential hopefuls to successfully obliterate him at the ballot.

Speculation has been rife that the President is determined to have the Nasa leaders stick together to take on Ruto and then share the leadership spoils proposed in the BBI.

Two weeks ago Uhuru appeared to have jolted Ruto’s presidential dream after he fired a dramatic suggestion to end the Kikuyu-Kalenjin domination of the presidency.

The remarks elicited excitement in the Nasa camp with Raila, Kalonzo and Musalia issuing public statements in support.

National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi .
MBADI: National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi .
Image: FILE:

Mudavadi and Kalonzo supporters yesterday renewed their calls for Raila to relinquish his presidential ambitions and back another Nasa principal to buttress chances of defeating Ruto.

“I am surprised with the ODM announcement given that Nasa parties signed an MoU in 2017 on the basis that Raila would not run or field a presidential candidate in 2022,” Kathiani MP Robert Mbui said

Mbui, a key Kalonzo ally, claimed that ODM’s move could even hurt the President’s legacy plans, saying the declaration came at the wrong time.

ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula told the Star that they are working on a strategy to corner Raila to support Musalia’s presidential bid “as the surest bet to counter Ruto”.

The Lugari MP said part of the scheme is to convince Raila that the President prefers Musalia as his successor because of what he claimed are his impeccable credentials in the revival of the economy.

However, ODM national chairman John Mbadi said the argument that Raila would not run in 2022 was only applicable had they won the elections.

“We did not win, there was a ‘subject to’ clause in that agreement. For now that agreement cannot hold any water,” he told the Star.

Mbadi said ODM will not be a bystander in the coming election but will rally behind its own candidate to succeed President Uhuru.

“We want to start preparation now for the Presidential campaign. We want to indicate to the whole country that we are going to field a presidential candidate,” Mbadi said.

Musalia, who once served as finance minister, has always projected himself as a non-controversial politician with the necessary economic experience to turn around the country’s struggling economy.

His allies see him as best placed to easily inherit Raila’s massive support bases if the ODM boss decides to throw his weight behind him in 2022.

Musalia was Raila’s running mate in the 2007 presidential duel in which they lost to incumbent Mwai Kibaki in a disputed election that resulted in the Grand Coalition government.

On Wednesday, Borabu MP Ben Momanyi, a key Kalonzo ally, warned that Raila risks becoming a “lone ranger” if he insists on running for the presidency, again, next year.

Borabu MP Ben Momanyi.
DON’T RUN: Borabu MP Ben Momanyi/File

Momanyi cautioned Raila against trying to run away from what he termed  a “binding agreement” that was inked among Nasa parties to ‘support’ Kalonzo in 2022 polls.

“It is good and mature when you honour the promises you have made,” Momanyi said of Raila’s 2022 presidential bid that he says reneges on a 2017 political pact within Nasa affiliates.

He said Wiper does not lack options in its pursuit for political power in 2022 even if that would mean forging a fresh alliance among the other partners.

The Musalia, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula secret talks have triggered speculation of the possibility of the emergence of a parallel political alliance ahead of 2022.

Political analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star that the opposition would lose terribly to Ruto if they go their separate ways ahead of 2022.

“When you look at the nature of Ruto’s campaigns, it would require a combination of the Nasa bigwigs to successfully counter and neutralise him -anything short of that would hand Ruto an easy ride,” he said.