Signs that ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi was the weakest link in the One Kenya Alliance (Oka) were all over the place, but the usually suspicious public was too busy to connect the dots.
Two weeks ago, when he skipped the alliance’s meeting in Naivasha to discuss a report on suitability of each of the four Oka principals to fly its flag, little was gleaned from the no-show.
The crucial meeting, where the candidate was to be revealed if not named, was attended by the other three principals Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula.
But on Sunday, January 23, the ANC leader pulled one of the most brutal surprises against his colleagues that will in fullness of time prove to be the final act that will kill Oka.
Surprised by the invitation of Deputy President William Ruto to Bomas, Mr Musyoka and Mr Moi walked out in protest and in a statement issued later announced the death of OKA.
They hinted at a possibility of joining Azimio la Umoja, which is being fronted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
It is not immediately clear whether Mr Moi, Mr Musyoka and Cyrus Jirongo were totally unaware of the script that Mr Mudavadi unleashed yesterday, which saw Dr Ruto and his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) take the centre stage at Bomas.
Other than the attacks directed at them by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Mr Mudavadi steered clear of the issue.
This could mean he had taken them up the garden path and negotiated with Dr Ruto without informing them.
In a statement issued by Kanu Secretary for Political Affairs Fred Okang’o, Mr Musyoka and Mr Moi said they had honoured the invite to attend the NDC out of respect for Mr Mudavadi as a co-principal and to congratulate him for being nominated by his party to go and look for more friends.
“But we have to part ways with Mr Mudavadi because some of his friends are not our friends and we are unsafe with them. We are therefore moving to higher grounds where Kenyans are safer,” Mr Okang’o said.
However, the walkout by the two leaders was dismissed by Mr Malala who accused them of designing a scheme in which they wanted to dictate to Mr Mudavadi the kind of leaders he should associate with.
“We went to the Kanu’s NDC which they had invited their friends. We have no problem with it. We also attended Wiper’s NDC and they had their friends and we did not complain. Why should they complain about the presence of our friends?” Mr Malala said.
MPs Stephen Mule and Patrick Makau, allies of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, yesterday condemned Mr Mudavadi for "betraying" his OKA colleagues and revealed that they would meet today to decide on the way forward.
“Mr Musyoka is the undisputed Oka presidential candidate,” they said.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, who has been urging Mr Musyoka to work with Mr Odinga, termed Mr Mudavadi’s move as “political suicide”.
"You cannot claim the country is headed in wrong direction or the government is corrupt while at the same time teaming up with the high priest of corruption in Kenya. That's the hypocrisy of the highest order," said Ms Ngilu.
"Storming out of Bomas was the strongest statement Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi have done. It’s now clear all along Musalia was planning how to betray his partners in OKA" she said.
Formed after the collapse of the National Super Alliance (Nasa), OKA was seen as a bulwark against Mr Odinga and what was considered as the domineering character of his party, ODM, in the coalition.
At one point, it was believed that OKA was designed by President Kenyatta as a tool to checkmate Mr Odinga with whom he has been working with after the 2018 Handshake.
Others have argued that the president had designed the alliance as a holding ground for both Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi, feeding them on hope so that they couldn’t join the DP, with Mr Moi acting as the prefect.
As long as hope remained alive, OKA held together, especially because there was a feeling that one of the four principals was to be endorsed by the state to contest the top seat.
But doubts started growing when President Kenyatta started hinting that Mr Odinga could be his choice of a successor and coupled with the kind of support the ODM leader has been enjoying from the state, the OKA principals started looking beyond, culminating in yesterday’s developments.
But long before the divorce, public pronouncements from Mr Mudavadi’s lieutenants had been telling, dropping hints that they were done with OKA.
At one point, the cold war between Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka escalated, with ANC leaders led by Mr Malala training their guns on the Wiper leader, whom they considered the biggest threat in the coalition.
While their most vitriol attacks were directed at Mr Odinga, oftentimes declaring that they were ready to join any other alliance but not Azimio la Umoja, they openly dismissed the alliance’s simulations that indicated that Mr Musyoka was best suited to carry Oka flag.
Even when Mr Malala openly declared that ANC will not back Mr Musyoka in the event he is endorsed as the OKA flagbearer last week, Mr Mudavadi did not admonish him, but maintained that the senator enjoys freedom of speech.
"The only formula we shall accept is that which fronts Mr Mudavadi as OKA presidential candidate," Mr Malala declared.
Before that, Dr Ruto gate crashed into Mr Malala’s football tournament on New Year Day and followed it when he attended UDA major rally in Eldoret and the silence from the party was deafening.
Additional report by Kitavi Mutua