Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Big Four held hostage by hawkish politicians

What you need to know:

  • So real is the threat of these hardliners pushing one to an unsuccessful — even unnecessary — State House contest, that Dr Ruto said they were ready to bag their own seats at the expense of their leaders’ political careers.

The four leading 2022 presidential hopefuls are being held hostage by some of their key lieutenants and communities as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession politics gathers steam.

Keen to take advantage of their man being on the ballot, allies of Deputy President William Ruto, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) boss Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Movement and Amani National Congress’s (ANC) Musalia Mudavadi are placing demands on them, putting them between a rock and a hard place.

So real is the threat of these hardliners pushing one to an unsuccessful — even unnecessary — State House contest, that Dr Ruto said they were ready to bag their own seats at the expense of their leaders’ political careers.

“These people like taking us for a ride because they sit down and figure out what to do, then say that if Kalonzo will vie for presidency, I will get my senate, governor or parliamentary seat. If he gets or not (presidency), it is none of my business, because I would have gotten mine,” said Dr Ruto when he attended a funeral with Mr Musyoka.

He warned: “We have to be very careful with these people not to fail us when they go for their seats.”

On Wednesday last week, allies of Mr Musyoka upped the stakes in their demand for Mr Musyoka to go for the top job, telling him it was the presidency or nothing else.

“Should our party leader ever make the decision to support Raila Amolo Odinga for the presidency, we respectfully assure him of two very painful outcomes: He will go on that journey alone, and his supporters across the country will never forgive him,” said the MPs in a statement read by Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua.

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Key figures

In the DP’s camp, some of his hardliners are: Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Mithika Linturi (Meru) and Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), and MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), among others.

On Mr Odinga’s side, there is Junet Mohammed (Suna East), John Mbadi (Suba South) and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna.

For Mr Musyoka, there are senators Enock Wambua (Kitui) and Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), and MPs Robert Mbui (Kathiani) and Dan Maanzo (Makueni), among others, while the ANC boss has Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, and MPs Ayub Savula (Lugari), Alfred Agoi (Sabatia), Beatrice Adagala (Vihiga) and John Bunyasi (Nambale).

Key allies of the former PM have insisted that he will be the flagbearer come next year even though he has not declared officially if he will make the fifth stab at presidency.

"Raila is going for presidency come 2022, I know," Mr Mbadi, who is also the National Assembly minority leader, had told the Nation.

Mr Mohammed has been on record saying that ODM already has a presidential flag bearer and is searching for a running mate.

Both Senator Malala and Mr Savula, who are hoping to succeed Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, have vowed that Mr Mudavadi has to be on the ballot next year, failure to which they will desert him.

“We cannot accept that Musalia supports Raila, he has to be on the ballot. If he does not reach the ballot, we will not be with him. Musalia is 60 years old, if he supports someone else for 10 years, he will be 70 years old, no way. We will not allow anyone to play him this time around,” Mr Savula told the Nation in an interview.

For Mr Malala, the ANC boss has supported other leaders from 2002 and paying his political debt is long overdue.

“Musalia, for several years, has been supporting others because he is not egocentric. He is a team player. In 2002, he backed Uhuru, 2007 and 2017 he threw his support behind Raila. And now we are saying that we are done supporting others and we are focusing on ensuring that he becomes the fifth president,” said Mr Malala.

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Other interests

But it is not just the interests of those in the presidential hopefuls’ corner that are at play.

Mt Kenya, the eight million-vote rich region that is President Kenyatta’s backyard, has turned into a swing vote in the 2022 General Election, with each candidate courting the region being slapped with one demand after another, the top being a running mate position.

“Our community interest must come first before any positions can be discussed,” said Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni.

In what looked like an attack directed at Dr Ruto, who has already started courting the region with the position of running mate after opposing the BBI, the lawmaker said the country’s second in command has to explain to them why he opposed an initiative that was to benefit them enormously.

“When you come to seek our votes in Mount Kenya, you must tell us why you objected to our region getting more resources, an additional Sh53 billion. You must also tell us why you objected to us protecting our nine constituencies,” said Mr Kioni, an ally of the Head of State.

The region has also lost in their push for ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’ revenue sharing mantra which BBI had guaranteed them.

“The 2022 Mt Kenya expectations have just been defined. To get the Mt Kenya vote, one must now guarantee that their government will deliver what BBI was meant to deliver to us,” said Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu

The latest to be given an ultimatum by his allies is the former vice president that if he fails to be on the ballot come next year, they will abandon him, putting Mr Musyoka in a fix.

It is a similar push and pull in Western, where Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, a Ford Kenya MP, said the region should back one of their own for the top job. 

“For Western, our numbers have never helped us but this time round, a new wave is sweeping across the region. Our people now comprehend the importance of unity and those who have gone as

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tray are on the way coming back home. We must rally behind Mudavadi and Wetang’ula, who are our most senior politicians,” said Dr Wamalwa.

New caucus

DP Ruto allies Moses Kuria and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri — joined Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua in forming a caucus whose aim, they said, was to champion the region’s unity.

They are using the issue of the pre-election coalition to hold the DP hostage, saying that they will support his presidential quest without folding their parties.

Mr Kiunjuri urged the Deputy President to embrace other parties and “individuals of interest”, if he intends to win the Mt Kenya bloc in the next General Election.

“I’m not very stupid to have TSP. This will enable the region to have a bargaining power when it comes to demanding a fair share,” he said on Sunday.

The TSP boss had disclosed that no one would want to gamble again in 2022, citing the bungled nominations of the Jubilee Party in 2017.

“It is only a fool who will go into 2022 to be subjected to the tricks that happen during the nominations, where people were literally plucked out of the contest not by the power of the voters but by personalities seated in an office,” Mr Kiunjuri said in a previous interview.

At the Coast, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi have the new Coast-based Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) which they intend to use in bargaining for the region’s interests.

Leaders from northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (Asals) have already affirmed formation of the Upya Movement.

“Pastoralists have really suffered despite us covering Kenya’s large landmass. We need to speak with one voice so that we join other regions in sharing the national cake [or else] there is a possibility that we will continue to lag behind,” said Treasury and National Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani on Saturday.

Despite some of the leaders having endorsed Mr Odinga for presidency, the Gusii community led by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, has declared they will not be spectators when the national cake is being shared.