What it will take Raila Odinga to get to State House

ODM Leader- Raila Odinga

It is a do-or-die situation for the Former Prime Minister as he deals with the obstacles that might stop him from becoming president.

By Tom Mboya

Faced with an opposition juggernaut just before the 1992 elections, President Moi embarked on a scheme to scatter the formidable force that was arraigned against him. It was during such one tactic that he incited the late Martin Shikuku for what was later to be famously called ‘ugali’ eating session.

Years later, in conversation with someone present at that State House dinner, I discovered that at one point during their talk, Moi became very agitated when the topic came to Raila Odinga.

“Shikuku, people see me always detaining this Jaramogi son and they think I don’t know what I am doing. One thing I can tell you is that this man will bring my political downfall. I don’t know how but I can feel it,” Moi said.

Ten years later Moi’s prophecy would prove true when Raila, after the opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki became invalid as a result of a car crash, took charge of the campaigns delivering a humiliating defeat to Moi’s candidate Uhuru Kenyatta. So Raila won round one. In the next elections, Moi backed Kibaki against Raila and this could be termed as a draw although Raila’s supporters swear by the gods of elections that the former prime minister won the elections. So round two can be counted as draw.

The 2013 elections were round three, eventually won by Moi, through Uhuru. August 8 presents the last duel as Moi’s candidate Uhuru is keen on defending his seat. It is not yet clear whether Raila will be the opposition’s flag bearer but whichever way, the battle will be between Uhuru and Raila because even if someone else gets the opposition ticket, Raila is expected to campaign to his last ounce of energy for him.

But there is still a big ‘if’ because it is not a foregone conclusion that Raila will be the opposition candidate. From there Raila can now start thinking of being an elder statesman. It will not be stretching the truth if we say that as it stands, there is no politician in Kenya right now with international connections like Raila. The next government—whether Jubilee or the current opposition―can appoint him as an ambassador to represent Kenya’s interests at international meetings.

Another avenue that can be open to the former prime minister would be in teaching. I am sure many universities would scramble to have the man on board to teach diplomacy or political science drawing from his nearly 50 years in public life.

Finally, Raila can busy himself writing books. His experiences as a student, a university lecturer, activist, political detainee, member of parliament, cabinet minister, prime minister, opposition chief are exciting episodes that can even be made into a movie.

However if he gets the chance to run as the opposition candidate, Raila would have to move fast to make a few adjustments if he wants to end up in State House.

First he will have to have a candid talk with his supporters and their perceived irrational behavior. It has been alleged that many people would not mind voting for Raila. In the same breath, some of his staunch supporters absolve Raila of any blame, saying that he is not responsible for the behavior of those who love him. Which begs the question, what kind of a leader fails to command his troops?

After getting the opposition ticket, Raila must craft a team that reflects the face of Kenya. One of the accusations the opposition hurls at Jubilee is that it is a congregation of the minority with only two communities taking up all appointments.

To break this sad situation, Raila would have to assure Kenyans―even those from the Jubilee zones―that he is capable of forming a government where all will feel welcome.

It is no secret that the economy is in a shambles. Almost everyone knows a family member or a friend who has been forced out of business due to the economic situation. At the same time companies are laying off workers in the thousands. Raila will have to tell Kenyans how he intends to turn the tide and have the economy improve.

Last but not least and owing to his age, Raila must promise that he would be a one term president. Like Nelson Mandela proved, one term is enough for one to set an agenda for the country, an agenda that includes transforming the country and putting it on the path to greatness, to be followed by others.

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