Politics

Inside crucial Raila running mate hunt as 2022 nears

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As all indications point to the eventuality of Raila Odinga going for the presidency, there is now a quiet but tricky discussion on who will be named Raila’s running mate. In the last two elections, Raila has had Kalonzo Musyoka but it seems like Raila has another choice in mind. Sources close to the Orange Democratic Movement have revealed that the party is in the initial stages of identifying Raila’s running mate for his 2022 presidential bid.

The dilemma is, should Raila pick a running mate from Mt Kenya region or should he pick a woman running mate? To illustrate how dicey the process is, a series of meetings chaired by Raila himself have borne no fruit. To complicate the matter is the fact Raila is now under pressure from Central to name a running mate from there while on the other hand he is under pressure from women who have loyally backed him for ages to pick a woman running mate.

On principal, Raila has been positively receptive of the idea of a woman running mate but it has been difficult to convince some of the members of Raila’s inner circle about the proposal of a woman running mate because some members of his inner circle were angling for Gideon Moi while another group was for Kalonzo, Justin Muturi or Nakuru county governor Lee Kinyanjui. In the recent past, the name of Peter Kenneth has also featured. Also briefly talked about was Health CS Mutahi Kagwe who has however decided to go for the Nyeri governor’s seat. Others are Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and former MP Denis Waweru. The wing that is for woman running mate has Siaya senator James Orengo, MPs Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Mark Nyamita (Gwassi), and Samuel Atandi (Alego-Usonga), argued that a woman running mate would bring political freshness to the 2022 presidential arena and cause a political sensation that could easily swing votes in favour of Baba. There is however another aspect that those in the running mate hunt say is haunting them which is that Raila probably is in agreement with Uhuru Kenyatta to have Uhuru pick the running mate for Raila in exchange of his backing. It is worth noting that Uhuru said that his choice for the president will surprise Kenyans and indeed, he has surprised friend and foe with his support for Raila. Could part of the deal between the handshake pals be on the running mate choice?

This has however not stopped the dominant wing in the ODM running mate headhunt from pursuing their agenda of identifying a woman to be Raila’s second-in-command. Also in dispute is the criterion to be used to arrive at the choice. So rigorous in the process that some names floated in the tentative stages have been struck off. Of those who have remained, it is not clear what qualities Raila has indicated he prefers although top of everything is that one is able to bring in a sizeable vote chunk be it from the local community she comes from or nationally by virtue of her name ringing a bell across the country.

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Raila has also indicated that he wants a woman who can appeal to the hustler class this to counter William Ruto. Among those whose names went past the initial preliminary test include Martha Karua, Nairobi business-lady-turned-politician Agnes Kagure, Kitui governor Charity Ngilu and nominated senator Agnes Zani. Also considered were Makueni deputy governor Adelina Mwau and nominated MP Cecily Mbarire. Some of those at the negotiating table proposed that Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru be talked to in order to halt her dalliance with Ruto and instead work with ODM.

The running mate negotiations team agreed that Karua is an experienced politician whose record speaks for itself. It was also noted that she has the necessary networks among critical vote-rich pockets be they of political, civil society and business circles. Those in the group rooting for Karua argued that her name recognition is a big plus as is her firmness and forthrightness. However, the final consensus, despite Martha’s political career and her occasional unrestrained public spats she would in the fullness of time end up slipshod. As for Ngilu, it was agreed that she too has had a long and eventful political career that makes her a plausible running mate for Raila.However, the team felt that Ngilu might not enjoy the national appeal to add considerable political capital to Raila’s presidential bid. It was also observed that Ngilu would be seen to ruin Kalonzo’s 2022 presidential bid thus creating political fissures that could deny Raila Kamba votes.Regarding Zani, the conclusion made was that though she possesses striking looks and has a great personal appeal, she lacks the spine for such a sensitive office as DP’s. 

Mbarire was dismissed as an impulsive political broker whose mercurial character would diminish Raila’s clout in Mount Kenya region. As for Waiguru, the headhunters claimed that her vanity and runaway egotism would easily make the proposition a butt of jokes among Baba’s political nemeses and admirers alike. Mwau, desirable as a deputy as she would be because of her calm and unassuming demeanor she lacks the national appeal that would add zero value to Raila’s 2022 presidential bid.

Kagure, those who gave her high score argued, represents a freshness that is so much needed by Raila’s side if he is to get a second look from the youth. It was also noted that she has worked in all Nairobi slums and there is not a corner of the informal settlements she has not stepped on in her community work errands and so she would be an asset when it comes to selling Raila to the hustlers of Kenya whom she relates with as if she was one of them.


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