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 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.
WHETHER RAILA’S RECENT FORAY INTO MURANG’A WILL EVOLVE INTO A CAMPAIGN PLATFORM REMAINS TO BE SEEN. BUT A SPANNER IN THE WORKS HAS BEEN THROWN AND BREATHED SOME LIFE INTO BACKPEDALLING CORD