The Pitfalls of ODM Presidential Nomination

09 Mar

The ongoing debate within ODM regarding the nomination of its candidates, especially at the presidential level is intriguing in many respects.

It is also evidence of how far we have come in the new political dispensation whereby openness and transparency is demanded not just in the country’s general electoral process and governance, but in the nominating process for the parties that precede the general elections.

As the only identifiable national party with countrywide support and appeal, all eyes are on ODM as it grapples with how to go about nominating its candidates for the various elective offices, including at the presidential level.

ODM friends and foe are paying close attention as to the happenings at party, especially in connection with DPM Musalia Mudavadi’s quest to challenge Raila for nomination by the party as its flag-bearer.

Those supporting Mudavadi’s quest say this is good for the health of the party because it shows the party believes in openness and transparency in its nomination process as opposed to ramming down the throats of its members nominees who the members may not have any desire or interest to support or vote for.

Those opposed to Mudavadi’s quest cite the simple reason the party previously held elections in which Raila was elected party leader and Mudavadi his deputy and this having been done, it should follow naturally that Raila heads the ticket while Mudavadi vies with him as his deputy.

Both sides have credible and meritorious arguments an impartial judge can dispassionately rule in favor of either side and the losing side cannot reasonably argue such a decision is wrong, unfair or unjust.

The problem, however, is almost everyone, including most members and supporters of ODM have made a mistake to think Mudavadi’s quest to challenge Raila for the ODM nomination is about openness or transparency or even “internal democracy.”

It is not.

When Mudavadi initially sought to challenge Raila for the ODM flag-bearer nomination, it was a genuine desire to have the party lead by example in showing it is open and transparent in the conduct of its affairs, including the nomination process for its various candidates.

However, as things have evolved, several dynamics have come into play.

First, finding no ideological or leadership distinctions he could point to in making the case why he is or can be a better leader than Raila, Mudavadi initially carefully laid out his quest as one of merely offering ODM members a choice; nothing more, nothing less.

His surrogates, however, and specifically his Luhya friends and supporters have been going around essentially planting the word that Mudavadi is the better general election ODM candidate than Raila because he does not have “baggage” as they claim Raila does chief of them being he is the target of a vicious “Stop Raila” campaign.

Within this group of eggers on, friends and supporters are the traditional tribalists who simply believe its time a Luhya took a stab at the presidency and not continue playing second fiddle to Raila.

An even smaller group–probably less than a handful, are survivalists who are more concerned about their individual political fortunes than whatever else is going on at the national level such that if they put their ear to the ground and hear the sound its Mudavadi, then its Muda and vice versa.

Emboldened by these friends and supporters, Mudavadi must have recalculated and now believes he has a shot at the presidency and thus his seriously seeking to challenge Raila for the ODM nomination.

To be sure, were these friends and supporters not pressuring him as they are, Mudavadi would have probably preferred to simply let Raila have another stab at the presidency knowing his turn will come in due time.

And therein lies the root-cause of the pressure because these friends and supporters of his must be using the willingness to wait as a weakness any man so challenged may be prompted to act otherwise if anything to dispel the notion he is not man enough.

These factors combined formed the genesis of the now nearly full-steam quest by Mudavadi to challenge Raila.

Second, as Mudavadi slowly started elbowing his way to the nomination contest, Raila’s enemies smelled blood and for them, nothing could be more grand a gift than knocking Raila off ODM nomination and if that means finding any way to prop up Mudavadi, they will oblige.

Contrary to what others have speculated that these very enemies and foes of Raila have been from the get-go been behind the scenes pulling the levers and directing traffic for Mudavadi in the direction of challenging Raila, it’s doubtful or at least there is no reason to believe that would have been the case or why it would have been the case.

To have schemed such a plot would have required a level of brilliance and boldness no one can make a convincing case exists among them.

That’s not to say they can’t or don’t know how to plot and scheme; they do but this is a matter of degree or sophistication.

A more convincing case is, if these enemies and foes of Raila ever became or are a part of a plot to block Raila at the nomination level, such scheming must have been borne after Mudavadi’s genuine quest to offer himself as a candidate for nomination and consistent with the party’s openness and transparency.

Indeed, it may as well be the case that the real schemers and plotters have yet to play their hand as the conditions are not ripe–but they are hovering above as the hawks they are to take advantage of any opening they get.

Third, Raila delivered a devastating blow to Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002 in favor of Kibaki.

Although an easy case can be made that Uhuru would personally love to exact revenge for the defeat by doing everything he can to stop Raila from being elected as president, an even more convincing case can be made there are others who greatly invested in the Uhuru project such that they would love to exact their own revenge against Raila independent of Uhuru.

To all these enemies and foes of Raila, using Mudavadi to knock Raila out at the ODM nomination level would be ideal and there are any number of ways they can do this, not the least of which is what Mudavadi is already suggesting and that is, pushing for local nomination elections as opposed to voting at the National Delegates Convention.

Holding of local nomination elections will offer Raila enemies and foes the perfect opportunity to create havoc in ODM that may as well knock him out as they wish.

Interestingly, knocking Raila off the ODM nomination will bring with it an added bonus of crippling ODM and making it that much easy for these same distractrors to have their preferred candidate elected than they otherwise would.

In other words, the thinking of these enemies and foes of Raila must be once they succeed in having Mudavadi nominated, they will easily find ways to have him handily defeated at the general elections in favor of their preferred candidate and it doesn’t take much to figure why that would not be Mudavadi himself.

Complicating all these matters, is the fact that genuine ODM members, friends and supporters are genuinely conflicted as to what to make of Mudavadi’s quest.

As noted above, there are those who believe Mudavadi should challenge Raila for the nomination as a matter of healthy competition but even among those who so believe, there is a level of angst or fear that the process could be hijacked by Raila enemies and foes under the scenario described above and that cannot be good for anyone other than the enemies and foes.

All these point to only one solution for both Raila and Mudavadi for the sake of ODM and their friends and supporters.

Notwithstanding what pressure Mudavadi is under, the two must sit down and agree on a way forward that does not jeopardize the goodwill the party has earned over the years, let alone their friendship.

Most importantly, the two must agree on a strategy that would keep the enemies at bay while ensuring one of them a pathway to State House.

In doing so, they must put aside the views, counsel or concerns of their advisers and supporters for in the end, its really about the two of them and one must have just landed from outer space not to know between the two of these gentlemen, they can craft a solution to get out of this uneasy and somewhat uncomfortable situation they find themselves in along with ODM and its friends and supporters.

On the other hand, those these two leaders lend an ear to their views or value their opinion need also step-back and look at things from the larger picture and more importantly, let them be realistic as to what’s really at stake and if they do this, everyone should be on the same page in no time and provide leadership so others can follow for in the end, the ultimate goal must be to ensure that ODM emerges from all this even stronger and ready to sweep the country yet again.

That’s an objective that can be easily accomplished if people allow common sense to prevail.

Indeed, the best thing these two leaders could do at this time is to simply take time off the daily political grind and allow everyone to take a breather while at the same time quietly finding and crafting the solution as suggested above while their supporters and friends must focus on popularizing the party, including registration of new members–an exercise that must be undertaken regardless of who in the end heads the ticket.

Finally, but not least, as these two leaders try and find a way out of this somewhat of a sticky situation, it is in Mudavadi’s interest to accommodate more than Raila for both historical and realistic reasons.

Party loyalty demands no less.


Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Politics


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3 responses to “The Pitfalls of ODM Presidential Nomination

  1. sam MOTURI

    March 9, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    You are correct that this matter started on a positive note has been hijacked by opportunistic forces.the other rather sad thing is That JOK And co. Have added fuel to The fire by making it clear the entertain nobody other than RAO for the ticket. This may be the beggining of the End of ODM. MMim is now selling himself by poking holes in RAO’s weakness. Did you read okungu yesterday?I do not agree with you that RAO’s enemies may not have started the whole thing.Kugonganisa watu vijwa is so common in politics .Moi was super on this. MOTURI


    March 10, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    I still believe that people are panicking unneccessarily. Both candidates have said again and again that they will support the winner of the nomination. The party leadership(excluding the two) must now meet and decide on the nomination process. As many members prefer IEBC to take charge of the process, a decision needs to be made and IEBC invited to commence preparations. As election experts, IEBC will be able to advice the party whether to go the conty way or NDC.

  3. Samuel N. Omwenga

    March 10, 2012 at 4:23 AM


    No one is unnecessarily panicking as to a genuine contest between Raila and Mudavadi in seeking the nomination but there is a reality out there that Raila enemies are trying to use the issue to knock him out of the presidential run and that is what shall never be allowed to happen, will not happen.

    The party does not need anyone to tell it how to conduct its affairs, including how to best nominate its candidates and that includes IEBC, which is no more expert on elections than many within and outside the party are.

    I realize there are those who think IEBC should be hired to conduct the nomination elections but my view even that is not necessary but would reluctantly support the idea if that’s what is left to bring this issue to a close.


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