Raila Odinga’s waves in Mu­rang’a

Cord leader’s move is in­tended to cause dis­sent, di­vi­sion and to fore­stall William Ruto’s next move of get­ting a run­ning mate from the county in 2022 by ap­pear­ing to be their redeemer

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - DAUDI MWENDA

The mark of a suc­cess­ful politi­cian lies in his or her ca­pac­ity to adapt to change. Agility and re­flex are crit­i­cal for sur­vival. The di­nosaurs died out sim­ply be­cause they could not re­spond ef­fec­tively to the chal­lenges posed by a chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. The po­lit­i­cal land­scape in Kenya has un­der­gone a pro­found trans­for­ma­tion in re­cent times leav­ing ODM in dire straits. Its chances of win­ning in 2017 have dwin­dled by the day.

ODM and Cord supremo Raila Odinga, how­ever, seems to have other ideas and has not given up. He re­cently iden­ti­fied Mu­rang’a as the new fron­tier and weak­est link in the Cen­tral re­gion or the larger Gema chain.

He sav­agely op­posed the Sh6.8 bil­lion “Ju­bilee se­cret wa­ter project”. In a press con­fer­ence in Nairobi. Raila said the Northern Col­lec­tor Tun­nel will be dis­as­trous.He said Mu­rang’a, Garissa, Ukam­bani and Tana Delta will be­come desert in five years. He al­leged that a proper En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment Plan was not car­ried out. Ma­jor­ity leader in the Na­tional Assem­bly Aden Duale shot back, say­ing the former Prime Min­is­ter was only grous­ing be­cause he had missed out on a 10 per cent kick­back. The truth or the ve­rac­ity of the al­le­ga­tions made by the two may never be known.

Link­ing Mu­rang’a county to this sup­posed scan­dal by a deft sleight of hand was a clever move by the op­po­si­tion leader. Couched or cam­ou­flaged as an en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem, it is ac­tu­ally po­lit­i­cal be­cause it has al­ready caused di­vi­sion among the lo­cal lead­ers.

The main thrust is to fo­ment dis­sent against Ju­bilee in the re­gion. Though Mukurwe wa Nya­gath­anga, the home of Gikuyu and Mumbi, is lo­cated in this par­tic­u­lar county, it is the only sec­tion of the House of Mumbi that is yet to pro­duce a Pres­i­dent or a Deputy Pres­i­dent. Ki­ambu has pro­duced two Pres­i­dents — Jomo Keny­atta and his son Uhuru. Ny­eri pro­duced Mwai Kibaki, both as a Vice Pres­i­dent and Pres­i­dent.

Mu­rang’a has only had sev­eral senior Cabinet min­is­ters be­gin­ning with the late Gikonyo Kiano. De­spite their high level of ed­u­ca­tion, col­lec­tive wealth (prob­a­bly the high­est in Kenya) and com­mand­ing in­flu­ence in Nairobi, they have, thus far, failed to break the glass ceil­ing be­yond Cabinet min­is­ter po­si­tions.

Raila, in his lat­est at­tempt to kill sev­eral birds with one stone, apart from at­tempt­ing to cause dis­sent and di­vi­sion, is fore­stalling William Ruto’s next move of tap­ping a run­ning mate from Mu­rang’a in 2022 by ap­pear­ing to be their redeemer. Their sup­port is es­sen­tial for any leader, par­tic­u­larly those from out­side Cen­tral Prov­ince. This is be­cause they also strad­dle Nairobi county pol­i­tics like a Colos­sus.

Ruto’s most vi­able op­tion was from Mu­rang’a. It is known that one of their own was next in the pres­i­den­tial peck­ing or­der and would have acted as a form of ap­pease­ment whilst, at the same time, giv­ing him a valuable foothold in Nairobi pol­i­tics.

The ini­tial choice of Se­na­tor Kithure Kindiki has run into se­vere head­winds, es­pe­cially with Mu­rang’a , Laikipia and Nyan­darua lead­ers.

Shrewd politicians un­der­stand pol­i­tics is more than a game of num­bers and per­sonal friend­ships.The most im­por­tant sin­gle item in pol­i­tics is the ad­vance­ment of in­ter­ests. Who­ever can ad­vance your in­ter­ests swiftly and de­ci­sively is a valuable ally.

Whether Raila’s re­cent foray into Mu­rang’a is­sues will evolve into a cam­paign plat­form re­mains to be seen but a span­ner in the works has un­doubt­edly been thrown. It has breathed some life into a fledg­ling, backpedalling ODM or Cord.

He has also given Ju­bilee some­thing to “chew on”, al­beit tem­po­rar­ily.

Raila has the in­nate ca­pac­ity to re-en­gi­neer and rein­vent him­self. That is why writ­ing him off is tricky as he mu­tates and meta­mor­phoses with alacrity. De­spite his ad­vanc­ing age, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that he is the only leader with new ideas in both ODM and Cord. Like it or not, he is their strong­est link.


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