With the loss of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the August elections, several key figures have paid the ultimate price. The polls saw a number of politicians shelve their ambitions in anticipation of plum jobs if their camp won the presidency.
After Mr Odinga’s loss to President William Ruto, some of these leaders, who had been asked to step down in favour of others during the coalition’s consensus building, have suffered major loses. Political pundits have described them as “blinded” and having excessive faith in their coalitions.
“When you are supporting someone, you get blinded to the extent that you think that you are winning come rain, come shine,” Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University explained.
Among those who have suffered a big blow include former Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju, Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and his Agriculture counterpart Peter Munya, businessman Suleiman Shahbal, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, former Suba South MP John Mbadi and former governors Ann Kananu (Nairobi), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Hassan Joho (Mombasa).
Those who went against the UDA wave in their backyards and lost include former governors Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) and Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), and former MPs Jeremiah Kioni and Kanini Kega. If Azimio had formed the government, their losses would have been compensated through various appointments, as is happening in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Mr Shahbal was prevailed upon to step down in the Mombasa governor race in favour of Mr Abdulswamad Nassir. Then Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu declined to defend her seat and rallied behind Mr David Musila.
Mr Mbadi, the former Minority Leader, was asked to drop his Homa Bay gubernatorial bid in favour of Gladys Wanga. He was one of the lucky few to be nominated to Parliament by ODM. However, he has protested being left out of House leadership.
“I was asked to shelve my gubernatorial ambitions, which I did. It will be unfair to deny me the opportunity on the basis that I am nominated. I have a track record as a Minority Leader,” Mr Mbadi said on NTV.
Many of those who have been left in the political cold after Mr Odinga’s loss told the Nation that they are prepared to play their opposition role of keeping Dr Ruto’s administration in check. They have vowed to remain in Azimio and make a comebacks in 2027.
While saying that he has gone back to the private sector, Mr Muriithi, the chairman of Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign board, said he would remain active in the public space.
“I will continue to add value in different places. I will remain active in the public space, though I am back to the private sector. Definitely, I will come back in 2027. Losing in one electoral cycle is not a death sentence,” he said.
Having lost the opportunity to be the country’s National Treasury Cabinet secretary, Mr Oparanya said he is not looking for a job and is ready to play his role in the opposition.
Apart from continuing to be active in politics, the former Kakamega governor will pursue business interests.
“I am ready for the opposition role because in life, one has to do business. I am not going to look for a job anywhere. I am back to my businesses because we have been doing business alongside politics,” said Mr Oparanya.
The ODM Deputy Party Leader hinted at being on the ballot for the presidency in 2027.
When Dr Kituyi returned to the Kenyan political scene after years of absence, he declared his interest in the presidency. However, he later rallied behind the Azimio candidate. He had “no comment for now” on the question of his future plans.
Implored by her boss, former President Uhuru Kenyatta, to shelve her ambitions for the Nyandarua gubernatorial race in favour of then Governor Francis Kimemia and focus on Mr Odinga’s campaign, former Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said she does not regret taking the “bold decision” to join politics.
She told the Nation that she had come to terms with the current political reality and was now focusing on her consultancy firm. She was quick to add that she is not interested in any position in the current administration.
“I am firmly back in the private sector. I am not going to look for a job. I am currently very busy, unlike during the campaigns,” said Ms Kariuki.
She had a word in defence of her former boss: “Those who think that they are not going to appreciate Uhuru’s legacy, they are lying to themselves because they can see it.”
Mr Wamalwa and Mr Munya shelved their governor ambitions to assist ex-President Kenyatta to complete his legacy and campaign for Mr Odinga. Reports indicated that they were assured of Cabinet slots if the former premier succeeded President Kenyatta.
Mr Wamalwa yesterday told the Nation that he is going back to his law practice as he strategises to vie for the presidency in 2027. He said his Democratic Action Party-Kenya will join other Azimio parties to form a vibrant opposition.
‘Check this administration’
“I am just waiting to hand over the Devolution and Defence dockets, then l go back to active practice of law and politics. My party will stand strong, shoulder to shoulder with other Azimio affiliates in the opposition to check this administration. If there’s a time Kenya ever needed a strong opposition, it is now,” said Mr Wamalwa.
Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said the independence party plans to organise a retreat to discuss what went wrong before announcing its next steps.
The Gideon Moi-led party has suffered several blows, including Tiaty MP William Kamket choosing to back UDA.
“I have never been employed, I am a politician to the core. I will look at the leadership in place and see if there is a place I can fit,” he said.
Even before the elections, Ms Kananu had told the Nation that if Azimio failed to form the next government, she would go back to her profession.
“I am a career and business woman,” she said.