For Raila ‘orphans’, its hope and prayers of presidential results being nullified

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: Pool

If Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga’s bid to overturn the election of Dr William Ruto as president fails, it will result in many casualties.

Some politicians shelved their ambitions for the sake of Mr Odinga’s State House bid but the declaration of Deputy President William Ruto as the winner of the August 9 vote might have reduced them to political orphans.

With Azimio expected to head to the apex court, the political risk-takers in Mr Odinga’s camp will contemplate their next move in an event that Dr Ruto’s victory is upheld.

Apart from individuals who were included in the nomination list forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by political parties like ODM chairman John Mbadi, outgoing Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege and others, Wiper Party chief Kalonzo Musyoka – who has sacrificed his presidential ambition for Mr Odinga three times – may be the biggest victim of the Azimio loss.

Mr Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua is also a victim after being in the political cold for a decade.

Others are Ms Anne Kananu (Nairobi governor), former Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and his Agriculture colleague Peter Munya, Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli, Mombasa businessman Suleiman Shahbal, former UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

Outgoing governors like Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and James Ongwae (Kisii) are also affected.

Cabinet and Principal Secretaries who openly campaigned for Mr Odinga include Mr James Macharia (Transport), Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT), Mr Keriako Tobiko (Environment), Mr Ukur Yatani (National Treasury), Dr Karanja Kibicho (Interior PS) and his boss Fred Matiang’i.

Jubilee Party leaders like Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni and Director of Elections Kanini Kega suffered double tragedy after Mr Odinga’s loss.

These individuals exuded confidence that Mr Odinga would succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta and schemed for Cabinet slots.

Mr Oparanya, Mr Joho, Mr Wamalwa and Mr Munya had been promised the National Treasury, Lands, Defence and Agriculture respectively.

Despite walking away from Azimio for not being named Mr Odinga’s running mate, Mr Musyoka returned to the coalition.

He had been promised the chief minister’s post in Mr Odinga’s administration.

After serving as President Mwai Kibaki’s deputy from 2007 to 2013, Mr Musyoka remained out of government.

He was Mr Odinga’s running mate in 2013 and 2017 but lost to Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto.

Mr Musyoka recently said he would start his 2027 presidential bid immediately after August 9 General Election.

“Deputy President Ruto started campaigns immediately they were re-elected in 2017. He knew he was focused on the presidency. I will start my State House journey a day after the swearing in of Raila as president,” he said in Tharaka Nithi county.

Mr Wamalwa, who claimed to have shelved his political ambitions to assist President Kenyatta achieve his legacy, told the Daily Nation that he would go back to his law practice as he strategises for the presidency in 2027.

“I am a lawyer, I will go back to my practice and wait for 2027. With (Amani National Congress leader Musalia) Mudavadi and (Ford Kenya chief Moses) Wetang’ula being out of the jam, the 2027 course is very clear. We will tell people that there is no shortage of leadership in Western Kenya,” Mr Wamalwa said in an earlier interview.

Ms Kananu told the Sunday Nation that she was confident of an Azimio win “but if things don’t go our way, I will go back to my profession”.

“Baba (Mr Odinga) will win. Nevertheless, I am a career and businesswoman,” she said.

Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) leader Wafula Wamunyinyi lost his Kanduyi parliamentary seat alongside his Secretary General Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren). They are also casualties of Mr Odinga’s loss.

Pundits say those who did not gun for seats, expecting lucrative positions, were blinded by faith in the Azimio coalition.

“It shows trust in the entity but is also a gamble. They were looking at the buttered side of the slice. In your support for an person, you get blind and think you will emerge victorious, come rain, come shine,” said Prof Masibo Lumala, a lecturer at Moi University, Eldoret.

Mr Odinga personally requested some individuals to shelve their ambitions with the promise of being accommodated in the government.

The “orphans” may chart a new political path, which may include working with Dr Ruto to remain relevant.

They man also seek state appointments.

Among affected leaders from Mr Odinga’s Siaya county backyard are Governor Cornel Rasanga who wanted to contest the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat after completing his two terms.

He prevailed upon to shelve his ambitions and spearhead the Azimio campaigns in Nyanza.

After completing his two terms, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong contested the Teso South parliamentary seat but suffered a humiliating defeat.

Mr Ojaamong has been close to Mr Odinga.

East African Community Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura resigned from his plum position to contest the Kisumu governor seat but went silent when incumbent Anyang Nyong’o got the ODM ticket.

He has been close to the Odinga family but would have to ponder his next move.

Mr Jerome Ochieng, Principal Secretary in the ministry of ICT also showed open allegiance to Mr Odinga and the Azimio team, but will be one who will really be on the radar of the next government. He was among the people who were poised to take up plum positions in government.

While some are major casualties, it appears Mr Odinga cushioned them well early enough and were either issued direct ODM tickets or have been lined up for nomination in either the National Assembly and the Senate.

This spared them from the rigorous controversial ODM Primaries and subsequent elections where being an ODM candidate gave them an edge over the other independent rivals also from fringe parties within the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition Party.

Among Mr Odinga’s close allies who managed to clinch various seats after they were spared the primaries were Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Rozah Buyu (Kisumu West), Mr James Orengo (Siaya Governor), Dr Oburu Oginga (Siaya Senator), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay Governor), Prof Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu Governor) and Ochillo Ayacko (Migori Governor).