Why the Political Gods Have Lined Up in Favour of Raila

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When Murathe appeared on national TV and told the world that Uhuru’s succession calculus will involve ODM and its impresario Raila Odinga, laughter erupted from the Ruto axis!

Reason? The Deputy President had been gallivanting the Mount Kenya terrain bagging every cheerleader money could buy. At the time, the “handshake brothers” kept their cards close to their chests and Ruto had the playing field all to himself.

That was then. And no one is laughing anymore.

Coming fresh out of a triumphant Mount Kenya tour in which he was not only endorsed by virtually all Mount Kenya political heavy-hitters, the actual voters also made it clear that he was, after all, the “Njamba” that they crowned him back in the aughts! 

And in a rare political move that caught everyone by surprise, the President, in his vintage shooting from the hip mien, signaled as much. It is clear that Raila is their obvious choice.  

How did we get here?

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama once said that “the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” To put it in context, the Deputy Presidency didn’t change Ruto, it revealed his true character and the Kenyan kingmakers now know who they are dealing with. For it defies odds, that one could purchase four five-star hotels, solidify his imprimatur in the insurance industry all within the first two years in office while earning the same salary! Imagine what he can do as President, they aver.

The warning stretches all the way to the hangers-on like Babu Owino, Aladwa, and the newly minted political flamethrower Junet Mohamed who gave UDA a political gift by delivering a very stupid proclamation that Team-Ruto promptly jumped on for political hay.  

Jubilee’s first term was a test of character and he flunked the basic test covered in the phrase “give a manpower and you will know his true character.” Not only did he brag about being the “real president,” he went full tribal in his appointments and then, ironically, used his powers to eliminate 2022 would-be competitors during the Jubilee primaries in 2017 not knowing that by doing that, but he was also actually clearing the path for a Raila political conga! 

He orchestrated William Kabogo, Isaac Rutto, Peter Munya, and Peter Kenneth’s defeats in the Jubilee sweepstakes because he believed that they were going to use those seats as springboards for 2022.  Munya and Kenneth are now Team-Tinga! 

Back to Murathe. 

Unbeknownst to many a Kenyan, Murathe is Uhuru’s vicar. A political doppelganger who is routinely sent to deliver a message to test the waters.  He is basically a walking poll that delivers instant results!  Those who used to dismiss him as an inebriated TV talking-head are now quiet. He was the mythological Cassandra after all. The truth-teller.

Thanks to Ruto’s dismissive comportment and proclivity to amass wealth by any means necessary, the Poobahs are not ready for him to sit atop the executive branch of the government. It reminds them of the days of yore when the Moi cavalcade would rudely take over private businesses just because they could. And here is where Raila comes in.

Aptly dubbed “Baba” due to his avuncular persona Raila Odinga is riding the waves brought about by the moment. A moment that is ripe for steadiness, experience, and sound governance. Having been through hell and out, in government and opposition, the 76-year-old Odinga matches the moment and the biggies can harken back to the good old days when he was in government as the Prime minister of the Republic of Kenya. They can reminisce about sky-high profits, relative peace in the country, and a sound economy. 

As politically astute as they are, they know the countless moments that Raila has against all odds, dialed back his rhetoric in the interest of the nation even though he had real reasons to engage in Sabre rattling.  They have seen how a man thus politically endowed has downplayed his influence for the sake of national unity. The same cannot be said about the alternative whose penchant for political gaslighting is for the record books. 

The vaunted “deep state” is essentially a euphemism for campaign financiers who thrive in relative peace and it’s clear where they are placing their bets. For now, they have decided that it’s Raila Odinga. To be sure, the election is still far away and things can change, especially in the Raila camp. 

There is no question that Raila is a master mobilizer and strategist, but his Achilles heel has always been his ability to pipe up verbal faux pas during the most crucial moments in the campaign. He cannot afford to give the UDA axis a political lifeline because Ruto is the best political messenger in the history of the Republic of Kenya. He can make something out of nothing! We all remember how he took Raila’s gaffe about Hague and made it into a political rallying cry all the way to Statehouse! 

The warning stretches all the way to the hangers-on like Babu Owino, Aladwa, and the newly minted political flamethrower Junet Mohamed who gave UDA a political gift by delivering a very stupid proclamation that Team-Ruto promptly jumped on for political hay.  

The gods have lined up for Jakom and it is now on him to steer the ship to its destination. As nervous as we all are, I take comfort in the fact that Jubilee has taken over the press shop. As a practitioner who knows Jubilee’s unmatched message discipline,  that gives me hope that this time, the championship trophy will be hoisted. 

Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC.

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