Why Azimio failed to clinch presidency

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga addressing journalists at KICC on August 17, 2022. He said the coalition's elected leaders had approved the decision to challenge at the Supreme Court the declaration of Dr William Ruto as president-elect.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

IEBC’s recent declaration of William Ruto as the President-elect of Kenya meant—bar a Supreme Court decision to the contrary—Raila Odinga lost the 2022 presidential election. This fifth such loss makes him one of the unluckiest presidential candidates in Kenya. He made nine mistakes.

Handshake: The 2018 ‘Handshake’ with President Uhuru Kenyatta forced Raila to inherit the mistakes of the Jubilee government, of which Dr Ruto is the Deputy President. Ruto quickly distanced himself from the mess.

Ruto approached the 2022 election as an outsider and Raila as a government ‘project’.

Banking on ‘The System’: Raila all along believed he had ‘The System’ and that defeat was not an option. He wrongly thought the ‘Deep State’ would rig him in.

‘The System’ failed to replace electoral agency boss Wafula Chebukati. Raila thought the four commissioners the government appointed in 2021 were to help him win, yet it’s Chebukati to determine the winner.

Raila’s supporters even believed that ‘The System’ was to help him win; most of them didn’t even bother to vote.

Martha Karua running mate: Of all the running mate options Raila had, Narc-K leader Karua was the weakest candidate—she delivered nothing. In fact, Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka delivered the most votes in Azimio.

At one time Kalonzo told Raila that he would lose if he didn't select him as his running mate but ‘the Enigma’ didn’t listen.

Worse, Karua didn’t even deliver at her polling station, where Ruto got more votes than Raila.

Raila thought that by picking a woman all the women would vote for him. He was wrong.

Shunning Mudavadi and Wetang’ula: Ruto harvested big from Raila by winning ANC chief Mudavadi and Ford-K’s Wetang’ula. The two delivered 600,000 votes from western Kenya. In fact, they won Ruto the seat.

Not deploying agents to polling stations: The polling station is where an election is won. The result from the polling stations is the one entered in Form 34A and cannot be altered. Raila failed to recruit and deploy agents to many polling stations. That helped Ruto to guard his votes.

Wrong political advisers: Raila was surrounded by old people like Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, Charity Ngilu and Maina Kamanda, who ganged up against the youth in Ruto’s side and misadvised him. But Ruto went directly to voters and begged for votes.

Opinion polls and media: According to Raila’s opponents, pollsters were allegedly paid huge amounts of money to place Raila ahead of Ruto by publishing fake figures and percentages. Ruto accused the media of bias. It was said they gave Raila more positive publicity and openly campaigned for him.

Relying on Uhuru: Raila thought the outgoing President would effectively campaign for him in the former’s Mt Kenya backyard. But he would wait in vain. Uhuru did not help Raila to ‘climb the Mountain’.

Remarks at rallies: Raila’s remarks, especially on mitumba, did him in. People also doubted his religious faith. The majority of churchgoers didn’t vote for him.

Collins Simiyu, Trans Nzoia

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