Anxiety is building up in the nascent political union between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga over fears that the president is taking advantage of Raila’s failing health and advanced age to drive his succession political agenda solo. There are fears the president is capitalizing on Raila’s name to strategically place Baringo senator Gideon Moi at a focal point in his succession. The Moi and Kenyatta families’ close ties date back to the era of founding president Jomo Kenyatta who picked Gideon’s father, late Daniel Arap Moi, as his vice president and also defended him when a tiny Kikuyu elite tried to mount constitutional roadblocks to stop him from succeeding Kenyatta. The two families are also business partners.
Insiders say the 75-year-old Raila, who was born on January 7, 1945, and has undergone three major surgeries which have taken a toll on his health, and even interfered with his eloquence, is being used as a pawn by Uhuru who is keen to pave way for Gideon to assume the helm. Those being sidelined in the scheme are seasoned younger politicians of Senator Gideon age group, who are seen to be a stumbling block to Gideon’s presidential bid. Apart from deputy president William Ruto, those seen as threats to Gideon’s ambitions are Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and now Mwangi Kiunjuri of The Service Party. Those Weekly Citizen talked to revealed that fear is if Mudavadi is groomed, he will go for 10 years same with Kalonzo or Wetang’ula. Gideon is not willing to wait for 10 years hence the Raila factor. Mudavadi is now prime 58 years, Kalonzo ripe 66, and Ruto tender 54 years. Gideon is 56 years. Wetangula is 63 years old. Kiunjuri is 51 years still spring chicken politics-wise while former Kiambu governor William Kabogo is 59 years as Peter Kenneth is 54 years. Wycliffe Oparanya, the Kakamega governor is 64 years old, with CS Fred Matiang’i, another key player in the succession matrix age not known in the public domain for reasons well known to him. Kalonzo is the oldest among them, hence his current gambling politics in the Uhuru succession game even willing to play second fiddle by being Uhuru briefcase carrier.
There are questions as to whether he will be in total control of the government, once elected president, or other forces will be calling the shots in the shadows. The Raila of today is not the Raila of 2007. Raila last week was ambulance-lifted out of the country to the United Arab Emirates for treatment. He is now recuperating in Dubai after undergoing surgery to correct nerve problems. His daughter, Winnie, posted a video where the ODM leader is seen rooted on the ground unable to move forwards or backward where he is heard saying he feels “very strong and rejuvenated”. The clip reminded Kenyans of Kenneth Matiba who after his treatment abroad for a stroke would seek to make everyone see that he was physically well even throwing mock punches. Raila’s clip is said to have made doctors and directors at the German-owned hospital mad as they felt that he was endangering himself and in case he worsened the ailment with the bizarre shenanigans, the hospital’s reputation would have suffered. A director is said to have thundered that the hospital was not a third-world facility and patients must be disciplined.
He is said to have wondered what was at stake as for someone straight from operation theatre table to be wheelchaired and made to stand with the wheelchair pulled out of sight to pose for a picture. Raila flew to Dubai days before he, and Uhuru, were set to receive the final report of the BBI and embark on the process for its implementation. His poor health came to the public limelight in April 2008 when he underwent a left eye operation at German’s Ulm City Hospital near Stuttgart. At the time, the doctors prescribed bed rest for him a month after he had been sworn into office as prime minister in the grand coalition government created after protracted talks which ended 2007/08 post-election violence. In June 2010, Raila had an operation at Nairobi Hospital to remove fluid on the brain with doctors saying he had been hospitalized for exhaustion. He was attended by neurosurgeon Oluoch Olunya who was quoted saying Raila had checked himself into the hospital complaining of a headache and fatigue. We could not establish if it is true, Olunya was the private doctor who accompanied Raila to UAE. The doctor said there had been a build-up of pressure, which was relieved when some fluid was removed through a small opening in Raila’s skull, adding the pressure might have been caused by him hitting his head while in a car three weeks earlier.
The ODM leader later in an interview with a local publication revealed that while 5-years old, he had an accident while climbing trees and playing with his elder brother, Oburu Odinga, and other friends. Now, there are fears that a section of president strategists are capitalizing on Raila’s age and health to widen the political gap with would-be known opponents, craft new alliance bringing on board fresh regional kingpins’ names to push for Gideon to play a key role in Uhuru succession. Indeed, hushed talk in ODM circles is that Uhuru is using the March 9, 2018 handshake with Raila to create way for Gideon’s presidency. The president’s plan, according to sources, is to make Raila a stopgap president who will rule for only one term and then pave way for Gideon. Insiders say Uhuru now wants to repay the debt he owes the Moi family for supporting him by using Raila to create the way for Gideon to become the president. The scheme also involves knocking out other vibrant presidential aspirants such as his deputy, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.
Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana and his Machakos counterpart Alfred Mutua are being sidelined in the handshake deal in favour of Governor Charity Ngilu of Kitui. Kalonzo has been enticed with goodies to join Uhuru but the president does not consider him highly. In fact, Gideon is the one who brought Kalonzo in Jubilee bandwagon against Raila’s wishes. For Mudavadi and Wetang’ula, Uhuru has hatched a scheme to elbow them out of ANC and Ford Kenya’s leadership to clip their wings in western region politics and nationally. The men executing the President’s plan are Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa. The meeting was also attended by governors Oparanya, Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans-Nzoia). A month earlier, Oparanya and Wamalwa had visited Atwoli at his Kajiado home together with over 40 MPs where plans to whittle down Mudavadi and Wetang’ula influence in Western hatched.