Since March 9, 2018, Raila Odinga has resorted to wearing blinkers. On this day, on the steps of Harambee House, he shook hands with his biggest political nemesis, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 35 days after he had been sworn-in as the people’s president on January 30, 2018.
From that day on, his new mantra, albeit unknown to many Kenyans, has been: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, insofar as the heavy mandate of being the people’s president goes. Or what was the primary purpose of publicly being installed, as the popular president of the people’s Republic of Kenya?
His legion of fanatical supporters has also taken after his newly-charted political path of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil, when Raila, whose affectionate moniker is Baba, is put under the spotlight of public scrutiny. If Baba’s new chant is, if you can’t beat them join them, his followers’ refrain has been, nobody should question Baba’s wisdom, we will go where he tells us to go, regardless.
After successfully petitioning the 2017 presidential election, Raila and the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition team boycotted the fresh presidential election on October 26, 2017. Uhuru, running on a Jubilee Party ticket, ran against himself and was declared the winner, a pyrrhic victory, that didn’t bring joy to the President. Hence the inevitability of the handshake.
Raila ceded his “people’s” voice long ago, when he decided to swim with the sharks
Yet, it is President Uhuru’s recent pronouncements that have confirmed, to all and sundry, that Raila ceded his “people’s” voice long ago, when he decided to swim with the sharks. “We will be meeting once in a while in our homes and whenever I see anything that I feel (emphasis mine) needs to be addressed, then I will call onto him (Raila), so that we deliberate on how to sort it out,” said an outgoing President on July 12, 2022.
In what seemed as a condition for President Uhuru’s support for Azimio coalition, of which Raila is the flagbearer, Raila acquiesced to President Uhuru’s demand of being the chairman of his alliance team. Assuming Azimio forms the next government, to what extent will the chairman of the amorphous coalition be interfering with the running of state affairs? To what extent will he be part of the state house ex officio team? And, to extent will he be watching over the president just in case he “veers” off?
Assuming Azimio forms the next government, is it possible that President Raila Odinga will be a puppet master?
When President Uhuru brazenly uses the personal pronoun I to describe how he will be interfering with the running of the day-to-day government of the day, if and when he sees and feels it fit, what does it tell you about the sitting president, who will presumably be in charge? Is it possible that President Raila Odinga will be a puppet master? That indeed, he will be nothing more than a puppet president?
In addressing this issue of being a puppet, which of course, was bound to pop up, he told Sophie Ikenye of the BBC London in March, 2022, “Raila Odinga cannot be a puppet of anyone…he, (President Uhuru) will help us, will advise…”, probably, just like he has purportedly been advising President Uhuru.
Still on July 12, in Mwihoko, Embakasi East, Nairobi County, President Uhuru said, “We had peace because of the handshake I had with Raila Amolo Odinga and I love the way he has joined hands with the tough woman Martha Karua. A woman who will not hesitate against thieves. They will be in cells, she won’t forgive them as I did. I’m asking you with due respect to support us…”
Us? Who is us? From the personal pronoun, to the royal us, President Uhuru has left no doubt at all as to his intended pivotal role in an Azimio coalition government. “That is why I’m supporting this man Raila and what is pleasing me about him is that he is a changed man. What made me realise he is changed is when he accepted to appoint Martha as his running mate.”
More subtle shock from President Uhuru. What does he mean Raila is a “changed man” who “accepted to appoint Martha as his running mate? I will leave that to your interpretation and imagination. Meanwhile, Raila has maintained a sullen silence, neither, contradicting or affirming the president’s startling statements regarding Azimio coalition’s affairs and his now changed status.
In receiving Karua as his deputy at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on May 16, 2022, Raila waxed lyrical: “This woman has a beautiful story as exhibited by her love for children. This woman will make a remarkable deputy president for the Republic of Kenya. History is calling us to consider our women for these positions. Sixty years after independence, we must accept women have a right to ascend into the highest position of power.”
Karua before being settled in Azimio, nearly settled in the antagonist’s camp; Kenya Kwanza coalition, whose flagbearer is William Ruto. She met him a couple of times and one wonders what if she had found refuge with Ruto, what would have been the story.
On July 8, 2022, at State House, hosting a group of church leaders from the Mt Kenya region, President Uhuru confessed; “I settled on Martha Karua not because she is my friend, in fact, you all know Martha and myself hardly agreed on anything before. She even ran against me in 2012. But I settled on her because I have full confidence that our community is safe in her hands.”
A couple of posers here: Between Raila Odinga and Martha Karua, who is the Azimio’s flagbearer? Who will be the president? “Our community” will be “safe in her hands.” Which community is the president referring to? If Karua takes cares of “our community”, as the deputy president, which community will be safe in “President” Raila’s hands?”
If for nothing else, the President also inadvertently let the cat out of the bag – that just like Raila, Martha Karua is Uhuru’s project in Mt Kenya region.
Raila’s blinkers have seen him become President Uhuru’s greatest defender in practically everything: From sanitising President Uhuru’s offshore accounts, to excusing the Jubilee government’s institutional mega corruption, to defending the crippling borrowing.
Kenya’s current debt portfolio is at KSh6 trillion and growing
In June, 2022, Raila speaking on the runaway debt said, “There is a need to look at what the debt has financed. We know that most of it did not go to do the real development.” His central thesis? It doesn’t matter the size of the debt, so long as it is doing development work. Kenya’s current debt portfolio is at KSh6 trillion and growing.
In October, 2021, President Uhuru and family were mentioned in the Pandora Papers’ leak. It said the family held 13 offshore accounts. Raila in defending the President said, there is nothing wrong for a Kenyan or state officer holding an offshore account, “as long as the money is legitimate.”
On March 16, 2022, at Chatham House, London, a journalist asked Raila; “Your brother President Uhuru Kenyatta admitted that he couldn’t do anything about corruption and you have been at the forefront of condemning and exposing the Eurobond issue. Are you going to continue with the same spirit to fight graft in terms of Pandora Papers (and) Kemsa Covid billionaires?”
This is what the changed man Raila retorted: “The reason Uhuru has had a hard time fighting corruption is that he has a divided government. The head of state has been undermined in his own government by his deputy, who is basically an opposition in his government, hence any fight against graft is politicised.”
At the beginning of this year, Raila said, I will follow (President) Uhuru’s footsteps. Which steps he will follow, he never clarified. When Daniel arap Moi assumed office after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s death in 1978, he told Kenyans: “Nitafuata nyayo za Mzee”, I will follow Mzee’s footsteps. What followed was a disastrous 24-year reign of an inept, kleptocratic government, economic mismanagement and ruin, political brinkmanship and showmanship, that destroyed the state’s institutions.