What you need to know:
- Other members of the Orange Democratic Movement who have expressed interest in the presidential seat are deputy party leaders Wycliffe Oparanya and Hassan Joho, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and his Busia counterpart Sospeter Ojaamong.
Politician Raila Odinga’s ODM party has officially launched its 2022 presidential bid with calls for those interested in its ticket to file applications.
Though Mr Odinga has not stated whether or not he will run for the top seat, the former Prime Minister is seen as the clear favourite in the race for the Orange party’s ticket and the 2022 battle, in which Deputy President William Ruto has placed himself as the frontrunner.
Other members of the Orange Democratic Movement who have expressed interest in the presidential seat are deputy party leaders Wycliffe Oparanya and Hassan Joho, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and his Busia counterpart Sospeter Ojaamong.
Mr Oparanya and Mr Joho are the Kakamega and Mombasa governors, respectively.
The four county bosses have at one point expressed interest at the top job but unlike Mr Odinga, Dr Ruto and other presidential candidates, they have not demonstrated keenness in the post by way of campaign teams and strategists.
Interested applicants have been directed to deposit a non-refundable Sh1 million to fly the 16-year-old party’s flag.
“The National Elections Board is directed to immediately begin the process of identifying the party's presidential candidate for purposes of the 2022 election by inviting those interested to express interest,” party Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told journalists last week.
Applicants should also be life members of ODM, be Kenyan citizens registered as voters and have the qualifications for being elected as MP. They must also have degrees from universities recognised in Kenya.
The party has set a February 26 deadline for the applications.
The call for applications might mean campaigns by the interested politicians — very crucial in mobilising voters in regions — before a party National Delegates Convention is held for the endorsement of one candidate.
ODM had a similar arrangement just two years after it was formed, prior to the 2007 elections.
Mr Odinga, Dr Ruto, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, former minister Joe Nyagah, and current Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, in a group later called The Pentagon, ran similar campaigns before the party delegates endorsed Mr Odinga for his closet shot at the presidency yet in his illustrious four-decade political career.
The right time
With the fear that ODM has given opponents, especially Dr Ruto, freedom to roam and grow support ahead of 2022, the call for application for the presidential ticket kicks off what party honchos see as a long-overdue campaign for the top job.
“We had been saying consistently that it was too early for 2022 campaigns. The right time has now come because the election is about 18 months away,” ODM chairman John Mbadi was quoted saying last week.
“As we continue supporting proposed reforms, we have to prepare as a party for the next elections.”
Mr Odinga has hit the road running with his Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the push for constitutional amendment, borne out of his March 2018 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, both have insisted that the handshake is not geared towards the 2022 elections, comments some in the party see as dampening the energies of excited supporters that see it as a direct ticket to State House.