Why Raila Is Yet To Be President

It’s a cold Saturday morning and yours truly is at Tea Kiosk, one of the very many in our ‘estate’. Then comes in this guy (he looks distraught), walks straight to where the writer is seated and grabs the next seat. I’m scared, from past experience, I can’t afford not to be. He then speaks out…Some forces (he claims) have conspired to ensure Raila never becomes Kenya’s president…

Fast forward, I’m invited to discuss Raila’s presidential ambitions; a debate I reluctantly join. The ‘discussion’ that followed inspired this post. I want to share why Raila’s presidential bids have flopped. To move the blame from ‘our enemies’ and place it on the candidate himself. Are you still with me?

Past Attempts (1997,2007,2013) 

I believe Hon. Odinga has the right to vie for presidency just like any other Kenyan; it’s undemocratic to demand his retirement from active politics. Again, he isn’t the first man to vie and fail more than once. And he’s not too old to contest, unless on health grounds.

So, why pick on his failures and not Paul Dida’s for instance? Well, there is just too much theories excusing Raila’s failed presidential bids and it was time the King was told he had no one but himself to blame. Let’s look at how Raila has fared so far.

In 1997, using a splinter outfit from Ford Kenya (i.e. NDP), Tinga made his first attempt. But a predominantly Luos support-base couldn’t take him far…Jakom failed miserably. He came a distant third, after garnering a paltry 10% of the votes. If you asked me, he was politically presumptuous. Forgive my direct language, somethings can’t be sugar-coated. Anyway, we all thought he’d learn from 1997, but that was never to be the case…

His 2002 scheme (i.e. to use the naive-looking Kibaki as a ladder to Executive Premiership/Head of Government) backfired right in his face. You know the story, he rebelled against Kibaki, formed alliances with KANU (under Uhuru and Ruto) and led us to reject an original whose photocopy we later accepted as the ‘best constitution in the world’ in 2010.

Raila’s 2007 victory was stolen by Kibaki. Please don’t feed me the very tired ‘they both stole only that Kibaki was a better thief’ line. ODM had the majority in Parliament and that’s all the proof you need to know the winner of presidential vote in a tribalized country like ours.

In my opinion, 2007 is one of those unfortunate days when hate meets greed in a battle of titans. Raila’s 41 against 1 met Uthamaki ni witu (lit: “rule is ours”). The result is best left unvisited, at least not in this post.

See Also: Why Kenya Has No Political Parties

Just when things were to work in his favor, by virtue of being the incumbent, Jakom was handed a humiliating defeat by a 6-month old TNA/URP coalition…headed by two ICC ‘guests’. Again, look at who controls Parliament and stop embarrassing yourself with ‘our votes were stolen’ dirge. Raila lost!


So, what could be wrong? Is Raila the problem? Could it be lack of strategy? What about his supporters? Here is my analysis; the three main reasons why Raila is yet to be president.

1. Retrogressive Brand of Politics 

Duplicitous is how I can describe Raila’s brand of politics. The former PM’s word can’t be trusted. He practices what he preaches against! There are several instances, preaching democracy while suppressing dissenting voices in his party and support base. Acting the anti-graft czar while protecting the corrupt and even allowing them to fund his campaign. Pretending to love country while putting his political ambitions above country. Advocating for national unity and end of negative ethnicity yet turning political opponents as enemies. I could go on and on.

Now, before you close this page and start looking for me, let me explain…Most Raila supporters are trained against some political enemy (mostly imagined). Like I said, political opponents are painted as actual enemies.

If you doubt me, let any member of ODM be seen with Jubilee leaders (preferably Uhuru or Ruto)…the reaction from Raila supporters will do more than vindicate me. Interestingly, Raila himself can dine and feast with these enemies and get away with it all.

How do you call a brand of politics which makes a citizen to hate their own government? ‘Retrogressive’ is a mild word when you are expected to postpone your happiness till your leader is in power. Politics that promotes zero tolerance for divergent views and vehement opposition to development projects initiated by others? 

I don’t know about you, but such outdated politics cannot appeal to many. Others don’t find you electable when you preach of prospering a country while opposing  the economic empowerment of your supporters. Who can trust you when you always lecture on democracy while at the same time subverting democratic processes in your party? Imagine coining phrases ‘gin gin wan wan (it’s them vs us)’ yet maintaining you can unite the country. You be the judge!
2. Poor Strategy
I agree that it’s not child’s play vying for presidency in Kenya. You need a few billions for logistics, but mostly, bribe. Above all, you must have a clear strategy. How does Raila plan to win by the way? I mean, apart from the ‘I know what I’m doing’ slogan? Depending on Luos alone failed in 1997, but do you compensate that by using the already popular Kibaki as a ladder to be the Head of Government? If trusting a political fox like Kibaki wasn’t the height of political naivety then I don’t know what is. Thinking that all it would take to be the Prime Minister was a Kibaki tosha, trading in the Luo votes and signing some secret MOUs was not very wise.

What about the 2008-2012 when, instead of earning the confidence of those in power, he destroyed his own ODM, antagonized Kibaki and other institutions all through? Why couldn’t he use the Office of Prime Mister to give Kenyans a taste of his presidency? I mean, instead of turning his office into a den of corruption? He chose instead to oppose the same government he was part of and lost Ruto, Balala, Nyaga, Mudavadi (he’s since been bought back) and Ngilu in the process. He had to go for political featherweights and former ‘enemies’ like Kalonzo and Wetangula to form CORD; a failed outfit from day one.

3. Arrogant Luo Supporters

I know that almost every tribe has someone they look up to, but Luos are taking their support for Raila too far. There are sycophants and minions everywhere, but holding on to the weird belief that Raila is the most qualified to be Kenya’s president and demeaning other presidential candidates hasn’t worked in his favor. You can’t force others to reward Raila’s struggles (real or imaged) with presidency. That the salvation of this country is only possible with Raila as president, and insisting that Raila has always won elections is illogically scary.

See Also: Political Realities Luos Must Accept

You can’t continue insulting everyone who criticizes Raila or differ with him politically and still expect to win them over. You call Kalenjins ‘kalejingas’ yet (in a very twisted way) expect them to support your hero. Luhyas to you are tumbocrats (whatever that means) yet you want them to be your best ally. Instead of gathering all, you are scattering the already few supporters.

Way Forward

For Raila to win the next elections, he must adopt progressive politics (practice what he preaches), come up with new working strategies (not the selfish schemes and pitting tribes against tribes) and his supporters (especially the Luos) accept the political reality that Kenya is bigger than any single tribe.

He (and supporters) can choose to hearken to my free counsel or dismiss me. Either way, my point is home.

Comments 13

  1. ”I believe Hon. Odinga has the right to vie for presidency just like any other Kenyan; it’s undemocratic to demand his retirement from active politics..” This is your statement but your Facebook wall is littered with calls for RAO to exit political podium.
    Secondly,on what you refer to as the ‘Way Forward’,i haven’t seen any suggestions on how he can effect what you call proactive politics.Is it kneeling down and praying to the gods of mumbi house facing mount Kenya?
    On the issue of 2007 stolen elections,how can the victim of mount Kenya tribal politics be the villain?Is this the kind of proactive politics he should pursue.On this let me quote Dorcas Sarkozy :”My heart bleeds when people who should know better, refer to Raila as a power hungry man. Kenya would have gone the South Sudan or Burundi way had he insisted on victory. He put the country first and accepted the flawed outcome. We are a society that shuns honesty, fairness and integrity while celebrating mediocre people, thieves and crooks”
    However Sam i will always agree with you on pointing out RAO’s failure to steer development in his backyard.Raila and his legion of sycophant MPS don’t care about improving livelihood of Luos.Any attempt to mobilize his subjects for economic empowerment is met with crude force. You have to consult baba when you even want to construct a cattle dip otherwise your home will be torched. My home MP.Dr.Gideon Ochanda may not see the inside of parliament again because he is less vocal on politics and loud on development. Just us you have always told me about our Kisii brothers who feed the whole Nyanza,economic empowerment is greater than political supremacy.
    Let me sign off by applauding you for standing out boldly and being among the few Luos who can stand up to challenge the status quo in Nyanza.

  2. The Grammatical errors here are legion, creeping everywhere…
    English aside, me thinks these flaws you list of Jakom are just secondary. The primary reason Jakom loses is simply because he’s not interested in winning.
    1. In 1997 he was positioning himself as a tribal chief and successor to Jaramogi, that’s why Nyong’o and Orengo had to be neutralised politically lest they try the same
    2. In 2002 he was positioning himself within the nyayo system but he knew he had no chance of succeeding the old man. He crossed over to Kibaki and generally made himself a nuisance from 2002 to 2007. How do you expect someone to win executive power then hand it over to some prime minister who joined him last minute?
    3. In 2007, his most serious attempt, he gathered a coalition of tribal chiefs and convinced them he wanted the presidency but grabbed whatever portion or little piece of power he could get at the slightest excuse.
    4. You correctly point out that as PM he should have given Kenyans a taste of his presidency but this is where my logic becomes clear. Jakom didn’t bother to whet Kenyans appetite for his presidency because he’s simply not interested. He didn’t retain his coalition because he didn’t need them anymore.

    Right now Uhuru has already reconstituted Team Uhuru in readiness for 2017. He also has two secret IT and intelligence teams operating in Nairobi consisting of ex CIA, exMI6, ex Mossad operatives . What does Jakom have? Winnie Odinga…
    That’s all his secretariat, born 1989, how will she face these three teams…

    Is Jakom interested? Hell no. The reasoning is simple, you didn’t need to write that long essay…

      1. That’s it. The man, just like his father and grandfather, isn’t interested in the seat at all.
        Just like his father and grandfather, he’s discovered how to make billions by being a high level nuisance while herding the luo as his battering ram.
        Actually, it’s the luos who want him to be president. He’s not interested…

  3. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions here, there is no arrogant community than the Kikuyus, thats why they are confined to the traditional GEMA cousins. Their union with Kales was due to ICC circumstances. While it is true we are accustomed to leftist kind of politics and always opposing the elements of the system, you fail to elaborate why it is a factor considered in presidency. Thirdly, the poor strategy according to you is not right, the only regret we have is losing Ruto, but citing losing Balala, Ngilu, and Nyaga is quite misinformed of you. How many votes went withBalala, Ngilu, or Nyagah?

      1. If Pentagonn was the ultimate gamechanger, assuming there was no audit of IEBC figures which revealed the 2m votes unaccounted for, you want to tell me Ruto only went away with the 700k that Jubilee defeated Raila with?

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Why Raila Is Yet To Be President

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