Kenya: Why Odinga Could Be Kenyatta's Heir in the 2022 Polls

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga (file photo).

ODM leader Raila Odinga could be President Kenyatta's heir in 2022 if details from the Head of State's lieutenants and political analysts are anything to go by.

Multiple sources have confided to the Nation that Mr Odinga could be President Kenyatta's "surprise" candidate in 2022. The scheme is still "a well-guarded affair that will come to light in due course", they said. Mr Odinga's age, according to the sources, is among the reasons government operatives "are comfortable with him as he would easily exit the stage when his term comes to an end and pass on the mantle."

SUCCESSION

In November last year, President Kenyatta broke his silence and said he would be actively involved in his succession, noting that his pick for 2022 will shock Kenyans.

Speaking in Nyeri, the President hit back at unnamed critics, saying his silence on his succession should not be viewed as a weakness.

"They think because Uhuru is going home in 2022, he will not have a word on what will happen. I am telling them I will have something to say when the right time comes," he said.

This was contrary to his message in the run-up to the 2017 General Eection, when he declared that he would complete his term in 2022 and hand over the mantle to his deputy William Ruto.

Now with the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns which the President has left entirely in the hands of Mr Odinga, political analysts say it's a ploy to knock out Mr Ruto from the 2022 succession plan.

During the weekend BBI rally at Kinoru Stadium in Meru, Governor Kiraitu Murungi almost let the cat out of the bag when he stated that President Kenyatta had asked him to tell Mt Kenya region that the "crocodiles which had hindered Mr Odinga from leading Kenyans to Canaan in 2017 were now on his side."

KENYATTA-ODINGA PACT

Analysts say this statement, coupled with that made by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi that the Kenyatta-Odinga political pact "was a sure bet" for Kenyans, fell short of declaring that the ODM leader was the heir apparent to the Head of State, and that the DP had been eclipsed.

Political analyst Herman Manyora told the Nation that the statements Mr Murungi, Mr Moi and former Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe made during the rally were a clear message to the DP about his 2022 ambitions.

"The clouds are gathering over Ruto; the vultures are circling in the air ... Those scheming against Ruto are now coming out in the open," Prof Manyora said yesterday.

Another analyst, Mr Javas Bigambo, said there is a deliberate effort to ring-fence the DP, isolate him, and "unfavourably profile him".

"It's a conscious all-out effort to stop Ruto from sustaining much steam as we head to the carefully planned 2022 succession politics. For Gideon, it's only the Uhuru-Raila coalition that can keep Ruto in the cold," Mr Bigambo said.

"Murathe is a messenger who has remained consistent with his message and the structural framing of messages that brand Ruto not just as the black sheep in Jubilee, but the most unwanted politician who will not be allowed to have his ambition come to fruition," he added.

POLITICAL CAREER

Regarding the Meru rally, Mr Bigambo said it was possible to conclude that "BBI is just a Trojan horse with the aim of stalling Ruto's presidential bid and helping rehabilitate the political careers of notable politicians."

Although Mr Odinga has repeatedly told Kenyans to hold their horses on succession politics, some of his lieutenants, including his brother, Dr Oburu Oginga, have hinted on several occasions that "he is too young to retire from politics".

The DP's troops said they know of the 2022 schemes through the BBI route, but dared Mr Odinga to a political duel.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said they are ready to scuttle Mr Odinga's ambitions.

He said Mr Odinga's moves through the BBI campaigns are a clear testimony that he is preparing the ground to run for the fifth time in 2022. Mr Odinga's candidature, he said, won't come as a surprise, but they will vanquish him and send him to retirement.

FORMIDABLE CANDIDATE

"ODM should psychologically and mentally prepare themselves that the formidable candidate in 2022 is William Ruto and his brigade, and we're ready to face them," he said.

But ODM National Chairman John Mbadi told off the DP's lieutenants over their persistent 2022 talks. He said the party is busy with the BBI drive.

"Why are they busy with 2022? Kenyans want issues affecting their lives such as the high cost of living addressed, and not matters of 2022," Mr Mbadi said.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri, Luanda MP Chris Omulele, and Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua said the BBI is a product of the handshake between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta, hence the two leaders are warranted to lead the drive and nobody should read much in it apart from addressing the nine-key issues.

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