Kenya's Most Authoritative Political Newspaper

Citizen Weekly

Monday, 13 October 2014

2017: NYANZA REGION POLITICAL DYNAMICS



Political undercurrents are slowly tilting towards a probable change of guard in Nyanza region if recent utterances by Cord legislator Kitutu Chache MP are something to go by. 

Richard Onyonka’s proposal that Nairobi governor Evans Kidero runs for presidency in 2017 can not be seen as wishful thinking. Kidero, the governor of the most populous county which in terms of geopolitics is the seat of power both economically, politically and in social aspects, has proven to be a man who speaks his mind political affiliations notwithstanding. 

Are the recent utterances therefore are a sign that Raila Odinga’s clout and hold on Luo Nyanza politics may be challenged and the man to watch in this case is none other than Kidero whose massive fund raising have sent cold shivers to Raila’s hatchet men?

Kidero suffered in the hands of the former prime minister which almost ended his political career. Senator Anyang Nyong’o has since sponsored a bill to outlaw “harambees” if this is a wider scheme to whittle the in-roads for Kidero that is left to political historians to debate. It is imperative to note, Nyong’o has confided to his allies that he will quit politics and concentrate on academics after 2017. 

Political pundits argue that Kidero’s move to concentrate in the South Nyanza and his association with Gusii Nyanza politicians may give him the political gravitas to mount a presidential campaign if he dreams thus far, but also caution, that he may face the same fate that almost ended the political career of the vocal and vibrant second liberation stalwart Siaya senator James Orengo and Nyong’o who were once sent to the political cold when they dared challenge Raila’s political might and only were forgiven after tucking in their tails permanently in obeisance to Raila.  

One time MP for Rarieda and a former cabinet minister and former President Mwai Kibaki confidant Raphael Tuju is another politician who suffered in the hands of Raila. Tuju transformed his constituency from the road networks to medical infrastructure with the state-of- the-art mobile clinics; his only sin was to dare challenge Agwambo’s legitimacy in a region where majority of the population live below one dollar a day, but fanatically follow the Odingas.

 Other social political scientist argue that Raila’s game plan has stagnated and his only hope was the bungled 2007 elections which most allege was stolen from him, and was forced to share the “Mkate Nusu” coalition government which turned to be a major ploy on the political chessboard. Under the Kibaki presidency, Raila as the prime minister suffered more humiliations in the Kibaki’s hands more than he suffered in the former president Moi’s dictatorship. Close allies argue that Kibaki was the worst political protagonist Raila has ever faced.

President Kibaki, the cable leaks, WikiLeaks characterised him as either a “pretender” or a “genius”, and his close allies argue that Kibaki is both. But the most interesting assessment of Kibaki is that of political consultant Mutahi Ngunyi he of “tyranny of numbers” fame, who coined the phrase that Kibaki was a “political demon”.

Other schools of political persuasion contend that Raila’s shot at the presidency in the 2013 was compromised by his own cronies. The bungled nomination exercise and the lack of well organised strategy with the “finishing kick” which gave the well financially oiled Jubilee coalition a strong finishing kick eventually gave room for a probable manipulation of votes as the presidential race became too close to call.

Jackton Omwenga of Colombia University argues that Raila’s fate may have been sealed by his close allies who never built a watertight vote bank in Raila’s strongholds when strategically positioned, a case in point was former minister for Immigration, the senator for Homa Bay county, Otieno Kajwang. 

Raila’s allies in the cabinet from the Western Kenya belt also did nothing to register the rich vote region while the Mt Kenya region employed all available tricks in the game to boost a fairly huge vote bank.
Kodhek Mak’Onyango of Cape Town Institute of African Studies argues that the people in Luo Nyanza region are slowly waking up to the grim reality that Raila  may never be the president at all and may yearn for change of leadership in Luo Nyanza, where Raila is the political guru. But if Kidero is to succeed, he must invest on political strategy that does not look or sound that he is fighting to outsmart Raila and he must make inroads in Gusii, Nyanza and Kuria regions which still seem to gravitate to Raila Odinga than Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kidero must also bring on board long time politician friend now turned foe of Raila like Dalmas Otieno whose political wisdom may be a plus, engage the political experience of Kisii county senator Chris Obure, create a working relation with Migori governor Okoth Obado, South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya and senator of Nyamira county Mong’are Bw’okong’o.

 Others say that Kidero should be the unifying force in Luo Nyanza politics, bringing together the pro-Raila and anti-Raila camps. They say Kidero has perfected the balancing act and is accepted across the board in the region. It is the same balancing act that has helped him play safe in Nairobi politics. 

Above all, if Kidero dreams for a higher office, Njuguna Githenji of Oriental Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia argues, he must be accountable for the huge resources at his disposal as governor of Nairobi and he must showcase his private sector expertise in transforming Nairobi county as this is the only scorecard that will endear him to national fame other than ethnic based parochial politics.