According to a story in the The Standard Online, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Raila Odinga and ODM to consider a running mate with roots from the East to “demystify the perception that the party is dominated by people from Western Kenya and Lake Victoria region.”
“The move is aimed at attracting more voters from outside these regions and is further triggered by an increasing urge to appeal particularly to voters in Central and Eastern provinces, especially the Kikuyu and the Ameru,” the Standard reporter noted.
“But even as strategists within Raila’s camp brainstorm on the matter, the PM’s headache is how to handle Musalia Mudavadi, a loyal deputy who has stood with him hostile to his previous presidential bids. He hopes to woo them to replace the support he has lost in the Rift Valley after falling out with his party deputy William Ruto,” added the reporter.
The paper noted that “key leaders from the East of Kenya allied to Raila include Cabinet ministers Joseph Nyagah and Charity Ngilu, Assistant Ministers Wavinya Ndeti and Kilemi Mwiria, Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, Kiamba MP Stanley Githunguri and former Ntonyiri MP Maoka Maore.”
The paper cites “ODM insiders” who it quotes as saying Mudavadi is “lukewarm and less aggressive” but they give him credit as a “political thinker and a team player,” adding that Mudavadi is “a serious boardroom strategist who has been keeping ODM going in tough times.”
In a comment to this story in the comment section, I said, “Raila will make a fetal mistake which will ensure nothing but defeat at the polls, if he drops Mudavadi as his running mate. Those urging him to do just that are either non-supporters who would love nothing but such an outcome, or supporters who are either disingenuous or are shortchanged in their understanding Kenya politics. Fortunately, Raila understands all of this given what we know about him and therefore my expectation is, Raila will not drop Mudavadi as his running mate.”
I say this because this is an issue I have been looking into for some time and shared my analysis of it in my blog, My Take On Prof. Makau Mutua Suggestion Raila Should Drop Mudavadi In Favor of Paul Muite in which I disagreed with the good professor and instead concluded for the reasons I provided therein that Raila should not drop Mudavadi and these are in a nutshell:
First, and almost without saying, Raila cannot drop Mudavadi as his running mate against the latter’s will for doing so, as I have noted above, will create fatalistic obstacles and traps for Raila which he may not successfully maneuver around to reach victory.
Second, even though it’s conceivable that Mudavadi may, in fact, be persuaded to step aside and be replaced by someone else, and willingly albeit reluctantly do so, everything I am looking at suggests doing so would not bring with an advantage for Raila and ODM significantly enough to warrant the risk of doing so in lieu of keeping Mudavadi as VP.
I noted in my analysis that, even though regional balancing is important as Makau correctly points out and we all pretty much agree, I disagree that “Kenya isn’t “mature enough” to accept a President and Deputy President from the same region,” as Makau argues.
Quite the contrary, I believe we have matured sufficiently enough to embrace tectonic transformational changes, including how we vote notwithstanding the relative youthfulness of our new found democracy.
Indeed, as I further noted, the new constitution provides ample foundation to bring about these changes as shall be witnessed by election of our first president with true nationwide support and backing come next year.
“And therein lies the open secret to Raila’s key to resolving the VP slot dilemma: the constitution.”
I then went on to analyze and have provided my rationale for this conclusion in that blog.
Third, it is far much easier for Raila to convince more voters from East and Central to vote for him in sufficient numbers to overcome any loses elsewhere than Raila convincing voters in Western province why he has dropped Mudavadi, regardless of the perfectly reasonable reasons behind such a move and regardless of Mudavadi’s own blessing for the move.
Fourth, the only way in my view substituting Mudavadi could pay dividends, is if the substitution is for a woman, to provide gender balance.
Gender balance, however, presents a series of its own concerns and considerations which on balance, in my view, there are more pitfalls there than those Raila has to face in tackling regional balance.
Some of these involve the obvious like the obvious women VP candidates cannot be named for any number of reasons I can’t get into now and these women are: Hon. Charity Ngilu; Hon. Hon. Martha Karua; Justice Njoki Ndungu (yes she can serve as VP and then P but she’ll really have to roll the dice on that one before saying yes to the run), or some un-ubiquitous woman but that by itself would be enough reason not to pick her: the above mentioned pack will rally all the women against the team!
As I noted in the blog, “better you go with the known than unknown on this one,” explaining,
“We experimented and succeeded [in appointing relatively unknown “outsiders”] with the Supreme Court CJ but one will be pushing their luck to try the same with the Executive.
I concluded that substitution of Mudavadi for a woman is therefore not desirable either, which then leaves Mudavadi the ideal VP candidate, in my view, everything considered.
Reading this Standard story has had me thinking some more on this and am I am now even more convinced than I was when I posted my blog that Raila will be ill-advised to drop Mudavadi.
Indeed, in concluding my blog, I noted that “this is going to be a close call either way and the margin of error allowed so thin, I fully concur with Makau that, in this case, Raila must choose “very, very wisely.”
I now modify this to say, this should not even be a close call at all, but maintain that all candidates, and in this particular case, must choose their running mates, “very, very wisely” as Makau noted as well.
I am even more confident in this position, after reading this news story for the following reasons, in addition to the foregoing:
First, Mumias MP Benjamin Washiali who is also ODM’s deputy chief whip in Parliament, is quoted as saying, “Western Province and Nyanza remain the biggest pillars of ODM and that any move seen to be hurting the Luhya will see a huge exodus from the party into New Ford-Kenya.”
If by a move “seen to be hurting the Luhya” Washiali means unceremonious and arbitrary dropping of Mudavadi as running mate without his (Mudavadi’s) explicit and unquestionable consent, then I would, of course, agree with Washiali, consistent with the first reason I have provided in my analysis that Raila cannot do this, and I am fairly confident he cannot do so, even going by his own recent hints noted in the story.
Second, Washiali is also quoted as saying, ” “The issue of shifting the ODM running mate from Western Kenya to Eastern Kenya has been doing the rounds within the party informally,” adding, “those those floating it have mentioned that that he or she should be a strong person from the Rift Valley, Eastern or Central.”
Washiali is further quoted as saying names that have been mentioned, include Charity Ngilu, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua and Joseph Nyagah, with Nyagah being “heavily touted due to his clout in the Eastern region.”
As noted above and in my other blog, dropping Mudavadi in favor of someone from the East or Central would not bring with it an advantage for Raila and ODM significantly enough to warrant the risk of doing so and that includes naming any one of these fine politicians from the region.
I cannot go into reasons why beyond what I have already stated elsewhere in my blog suffice to say we really must find a way to crush tribalism as a factor in voting for our president.
Let me be blunt here: When people talk about regional balance, they are in essence arguing for tribal considerations.
I just refuse to accept this as a viable rationale for dropping Mudavadi.
Instead, let the good people of East and Central consider the ticket as is, if it is so confirmed officially and decide whether or not Raila, not necessarily Raila and Mudavadi, but whether Raila as president is qualified to be our next president and more so, if he can deliver on his campaign promise.
In 2007, Raila made the case and he would argue, an overwhelming majority of Kenyans agreed he was, indeed qualified to be our president and gave him the nod.
No one can say this was the case in either East or Central for obvious reasons.
However, this is 2011 and more importantly, it’ll be 5 years later, come election time.
Needless to say, a lot has happened since the 2007 elections.
Kenya is no longer the same country.
We had PEV, which by God’s grace we managed to get out of with no more deaths and hurt beyond that which was, in fact, suffered.
We are yet to have some closure on this, but that’s an issue on a separate train and track from the train on the 2012 electoral path and if there is convergence of the two trains at some point requiring us all to proceed in one, then to the 2012 electoral train shall we all get into, and continue in the journey without any concern or hesitation other than by those who may be thrown overboard in the convergence.
The train must proceed with or without them for Kenya is bigger than any of them to even bother as to wait for them, having brought about such upon themselves, if that’s the case.
Which brings me to my point about this and that is, as aspiring or potential non-ODM presidential candidates, Karua and Kenneth, have the right to seek the presidency.
If as things progress there comes a time either or both clearly see no path to State House as some suspect there may not be this time around, then they should carefully evaluate the remaining candidates and decide who to support, and do so without regard to tribe or ethnicity but simply on the basis of qualification and ability to lead our country come 2012.
Should that be Raila, then it would behoove these leaders to help him get elected as president, regardless of who his choice for running mate is and by that I mean, they cannot and should not as a precondition insist on their being named as running mates in order to offer such help as doing so is inconsistent and unbecoming a true leader presenting themselves for election as president, especially given the history of our nation.
If they must insist on such consideration, then Raila will be better advised to still go to those not too alien lands and make the case himself with other progressives from there and I am fairly confident, he will find many willing to hear him and even work with him to make more inroads in Central.
In East, and going by what has been reported in the media, including in the Standard story, Raila has a number of key politicians and supporters either are already allied with him or are leaning in his direction, and these include Cabinet ministers Joseph Nyagah and Charity Ngilu, Assistant Ministers Wavinya Ndeti and Kilemi Mwiria, Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, Kiamba MP Stanley Githunguri and former Ntonyiri MP Maoka Maore.”
Linthuri is quoted in the paper as saying, “the people from Mt. Kenya region would see Raila as having no regard for them, if his running mate is also from the West” and adds, “[this] will also be a contradiction of the constitution” which, according to him, “is strict on regional balance.”
My good friend Lintuli is wrong on both counts: First of all, why would the people from East see Raila as having no regard for them, any more than the people from the Rift Valley, Central or Coast, if Raila sticks with a man who has done him no wrong, is loyal and trustorthy, is himself quite capable of being president and more importantly, was right there beside Raila as his VP running mate in 2007 when the duo believe they were elected but not sworn as president and vice president?
Secondly, when the constitution talks about regional balancing, the test for whether the mandate on regional balancing is met in presidential elections, is whether Article 138(4)(a) and (b) are met, and that is, the candidate wins 50%+ 1 vote and garners at least 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 47 counties.
If the the candidate meets this criteria, there is no “contradiction” of the constitution to speak of therefore he is wrong on that count as well.
What each of these and other leaders and politicians not mentioned bring to the table for Raila, however, is beyond the scope of this blog suffice to say it is significant and important individually, if they continue to offer it and even more significant collectively.
Two of these leaders, however, present a unique case that can actually be stated fairly straight-forward and these are Ngilu and Nyagah.
The situation for these two is simple and straight-forward and that is, if they believed in Raila and were willing to back him wholeheartedly as they did in 2007, they should do so again in 2012 for nothing has changed as to Raila the man viz the vision and promise he offered in 2007.
Nothing, of course, except as forced upon him by PEV and the aftermath which both of them know fully well and need nobody to tell or remind them.
Ditto for anyone deciding for either of them specifically whether 2007, PEV and the aftermath has made Raila a worse or better presidential candidate and if the latter, whether he deserves their fighting for him to be re-elected, especially if neither is picked as VP running mate while both look forward to their turn in stepping into the Big House president or VP and president in wait as the case may be.
If they both make that decision with sincerity and honesty devoid of any personal considerations or otherwise do so objectively, then they both must reach the same conclusion because the underlying facts and idiosyncrasies are the same and well known to both of them as the seasoned politicians they are and should that be the case, if upon evaluating those facts and information both therefore decide to support Raila without reservation, then so much the better for them, for Raila and, of course, the country.
Should that not be the case, then Raila has his work cut-out for him but, with proper counter-strategy, he can exact a truly and extremely well deserved victory upon success of such strategy and have the opportunity to finally prove all of his critics and naysayers wrong in what he does as president and leader of our country.
Peace, Love and Unity