Details of why Uhuru Kenyatta is quietly isolating opposition leader Raila Odinga ahead of next year’s transition elections can finally be revealed. Weekly Citizen has information Uhuru is playing it safe in his succession game and does not want to be seen as backing any of the front runners as doing so is likely to leave him humiliated as it happened to president Daniel Arap Moi in 2002.
Informed sources say outgoing Uhuru wants, like his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, to leave voters to decide for themselves on grounds, a candidate backed by those in power in Kenya performs poorly. In fact in Kibaki succession, Uhuru and William Ruto were outsiders with then United Democratic Forum candidate Musalia Mudavadi being seen as the state project costing the Sabatia-born politician dearly. Kibaki technocrats backing and the International Criminal Court issue worked against him.
UDF was by then said to have been formed by powerful individuals surrounding Kibaki led by his private secretary and power broker Nick Wanjohi to propel Mudavadi to power. Uhuru has of late declared in public, he is not backing anybody for presidency next year and has even warned his close family members to stop associating with those nursing presidential ambitions. Uhuru brothers and sisters had started trooping to Raila’s office with his uncle George Muhoho and Uhuru’s brother Muhoho being hosted by the Odingas in Bondo.
To Uhuru, like the Kibaki family which is safe after he left power, his reneging on backing Ruto despite declaring in public during 2017 campaigns he would rule for 10 years and Ruto takes over is part of his neutral strategy. To him, backing Ruto will lead to a formidable alliance to block him with even Raila stepping down. For now, the 2022 presidential race is level with the best candidate left to win. However, Uhuru is not ruling out new alliances being formed if the Building Bridges Initiative process goes through during the referendum.
By isolating Raila, Uhuru is also aware his relationship with the ODM leader is dearly costing them both in Central Kenya and other areas that Raila enjoyed support mostly in Coast and parts of North Rift Valley. The feeling that Uhuru has betrayed Ruto is going down badly among the larger Mount Kenya voters. It is on these grounds pro-Uhuru political sympathisers in the region who were at one time leaning towards Raila have gone silent and are openly asking Uhuru if Raila is the only option Uhuru can take to them.
Weekly Citizen has information, after being confronted with the Raila factor, Uhuru went public to state he has no preferred candidate. Sources further told us that in private, Uhuru has told his handlers that his handshake power deal was not aimed at anointing Raila as his successor but was hijacked by Mount Kenya politicians and Kikuyu tycoons who fear Ruto presidency. Kikuyu tycoons’ concern being, if Ruto wins, their Kalenjins counterparts, who did big business during the Moi era and felt sidelined during Kibaki regime and Uhuru tenure, will spring back to win lucrative state tenders. Just like Kikuyus, Kalenjin tycoons have access to banks and even own shares.
To Kikuyu tycoons, it is better to have Raila or Mudavadi succeed Uhuru since their tribesmen do not have financial capacity to challenge them compared to Kalenjins and Kisiis. Then we have the briefs that the president’s continued association with Raila is being exploited by the proponents of hustlers versus dynasties thus raising political temperatures as it is being witnessed now. The feeling within international community and among progressive Kenyans is that if Uhuru succession is not handled well, it is likely to erupt leading to bloodshed before the presidential election if Raila and Ruto see signs of defeat.
With Raila’s deep state association as it has been claimed in certain quarters, Uhuru has been briefed it is a time bomb likely to throw to the drains his political gospel BBI hence need to keep away from the ODM boss. Then we have talk just like in his previous presidential bid, Raila may not have the financial muscle to run his presidential campaign and is trying to win Kikuyu tycoons in Uhuru camp to fund him next year. In 2017, it is said, Jimmy Wanjigi was planted on Raila by the establishment promising to fund his campaign.
Raila and his Nasa co-principals took Wanjigi seriously only to discover during the final home stretch he could not pay presidential agents in all polling stations across the country and Nasa national tallying centre. Uhuru is aware of Ruto financial muscle more so when he claimed the country is losing Sh2 billion daily mostly of which is suspected to land in the hands of Ruto allies. This backfired badly on Uhuru with Kenyans regretting that, if this was true, they had a president who is no better than a hawker on the street when it comes to stopping looting of state coffers.
Ruto is also said to enjoy support of international investors he struck deals with during Uhuru first term in power and who are bankrolling his bid on grounds, they will land lucrative energy sector investments once Ruto is in power. Unlike Raila who depends on friendly presidents in power, Ruto has enlisted serious tycoons in the Middle East, North Africa and associates of former Sudan strongman Omar al-Bashir now in prison as his allies roam freely with millions of oil dollars. According to sources, apart from the Raila association doing Uhuru damage locally, it is also affecting him internationally more so within the East African community.
The stalled launch of the new Kisumu port is linked to Raila’s poor relationship with Uganda president Yoweri Museveni. To complicate matters is word that Uhuru kitchen cabinet is deeply split with a section for Raila and others openly rebelling, something that has also spread to the main cabinet that rarely meets due to the bad blood. Back to the campaign kitty and in a scenario similar to the 2002 elections when then president Moi summoned Kanu top guns – Raila, George Saitoti, Uhuru and Kalonzo Musyoka – and asked them how much money they had each set aside for the presidential campaigns, where Raila responded he would raise from friends with Saitoti saying he had Sh1 billion and Kalonzo saying he had Sh20 million, which saw Moi settle on Uhuru who was ready to raise over Sh20 billion – Uhuru handlers have ruled out Raila on the strength he does not have sufficient funds to mount a serious presidential campaign to defeat Ruto.
The thinking in the president’s kitchen cabinet is that Raila will burn his fingers by engaging in early campaigns to compete with Ruto, who is also crisscrossing the country selling his 2022 presidential bid. The two are likely to burn out before the 2022 polls when the Kenyatta and Moi families will unleash their combined resources to market their preferred presidential candidate. For now, talk is rife, a new alliance that has Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Gideon Moi is to be repackaged by those fearing the aftermath of Ruto, Raila battle without a third force in place.
Those for the idea say, apart from the Moi family and Kenyattas, Gideon is close to South Sudan president Silva Kirr and of late gets on well with Museveni, has links in Middle East and if well accommodated in a power arrangement can fund the third force. The third force camp for now has been told to start crisscrossing the country on their own selling party policies and BBI, wait for the referendum to pass and share power sidelining Ruto and Raila. Keen observers will agree, to repackage themselves, Gideon of late is campaigning in every part of the country with Mudavadi openly attacking Jubilee style of leadership.
Evidence that the relation between Uhuru, Gideon and Raila has broken down was seen when the ODM leader kept off the first anniversary ceremony of the late Moi at Kabarak which the deputy president also gave a wide berth. According to sources, the failure by Raila to send his apologies for skipping the event was also another pointer he has fallen out with Uhuru and by extension Gideon. This is in contrast to the past when Raila visited then ailing Moi twice. The first was in 2018 when he visited Moi at his Kabarak residence soon after he mended fences with Uhuru. The visit was seen as a part of greater political re-engineering to unite the Kenyattas, Mois and Odingas.
A second visit was a year later when Raila went to condole with Moi over the loss of his eldest son, Jonathan, who passed on after a battle with cancer. In the two occasions, Gideon was present which signaled the then growing political union between the three most powerful families in the country. In contrast, Ruto suffered the misfortune of being blocked from seeing the ailing Moi in what political analysts interpreted as an attempt to embarrass him.
Tellingly, as Uhuru, Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Gideon and Wetang’ula were in Kabarak, Raila was being hosted by the popular Kikuyu radio station, Inooro FM where he upped his charm offensive to the populous community. Weekly Citizen has established ODM allied governors and senators aware of the game-plan Raila is being played skipped the late Moi first anniversary. To woo the community, the ODM leader told listeners he had never had any problem with the Kikuyu, terming it as a creation of agents of hate and division for political reasons.
Raila has decided to win the Kikuyu vote without Uhuru for now. For Ruto, other signals that he is unwanted included the bashing he received from the president and all the leaders who spoke at the Kabarak function. In 2013 and 2017, Raila received financial boost from Kikuyu tycoons such as former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, former Kiambaa MP Stanley Githunguri, Royal Media Services proprietor Samuel Macharia, Nginyo Kariuki, former Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga, Equity Bank chief executive James Mwangi and a host of others.
But now, Githunguri and Njonjo are said to be senile while SK Macharia, Munga and Mwangi have changed gear. Evidence that Raila was broke first emerged when he refused to participate in the repeat presidential election held on October 26 2017. The ODM leader pulled out of the presidential race with his main financier Wanjigi running out of funds. After the handshake, Raila had expected Uhuru to drop some cabinet secretaries to accommodate his cronies.
In the 2017 elections, Raila relied heavily on Wanjigi but the controversial businessman is now facing hard times after he was elbowed out of all lucrative deals by Uhuru and Ruto. The last Kenyans heard of Wanjigi was when Raila hosted him for a church fundraiser in Bondo town, Siaya county. Uhuru is now seriously taking briefs from security networks that have warned him of unfolding events in his succession race that has seen investors start getting worried ahead of the next general elections.
It is on these grounds the one time meetings between Uhuru handlers and Raila allies are no more. They used to meet in Karen residence of Paul Otwoma with Gideon, Stanley Murathe, Peter Kenneth, Junet Mohammed and Hassan Joho attending. Such meetings were also held at Francis Atwoli’s Kajiado home. We could not establish if it is true envoys of Western capitals stationed in Kenya have also petitioned the president on his succession.
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