ODM leader Raila Odinga has indicated he will be on the presidential ballot for the fifth time in 2022, in what will be a do-or-die contest for him as NASA partners vow not to support him once again.
Although he has begun preparations in earnest, Raila’s bid is facing a serious threat from his NASA partners, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), and Moses Wetang’ula (FORD Kenya), who have vowed not to back him again.
In 2017, the NASA coalition gave Jubilee Party a run for its money and almost jeopardized President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid, pulling over 6 million votes.
The alliance proved to be a formidable force with massive support across the country except from two regions, Central Kenya and Rift Valley.
The Opposition outfit enjoyed overwhelming support from Western Kenya courtesy of Mudavadi and Wetangula, and another massive following in the Eastern region thanks to Kalonzo’s influence.
Raila himself waved the magic wand in Nyanza’s backyard and remote-controlled the Coastal region through his blue-eyed boys, Governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi.
The country was literally locked and many believed the ‘Bindu Bichenjanga’ hit that often ushered the four principals on stage during campaigns would come to pass. It almost did.
“Raila Odinga should not sit pretty in the assumption that an endorsement by President Kenyatta would automatically translate into a win for them. These early efforts and victories by UDA which is associated with DP Ruto are an early warning for him and others about the 2022 general election, and should be a serious wake-up call to anyone who intends to make a compelling candidature for Presidency,” said political analyst Javas Bigambo.
Regrettably, the coalition has badly disintegrated and lost its sheen and charming spirit that often swept its followers off their feet during campaigns.
Other Nasa partners including Kalonzo, Mudavadi, and Wetangula have joined One Kenya Alliance and have hinted at pulling out of the coalition sooner than later. Raila has literary been left alone at the hour of need.
Going by the 2017 voting pattern and the projected statistics of 2022, the former prime minister stood a better chance of ascending to power in the next polls if he retained his lineup.
Unfortunately, a section of his allies has been busking in a dangerous political bliss and dreamland full of misleading analysis, claiming their leader would make it in 2022 without the support of Mudavadi, Wetangula, and Kalonzo.
Some have argued Raila ‘solely’ he managed over 6 million votes in 2017 and has kept his support base intact since 2007.
Nothing can be further from the truth, the over 6 million votes were not solely Raila’s votes. ODM think tanks should be reminded that Raila got over 60% from Western Kenya and above 70% from Lower Eastern.
With Deputy President making inroads in every part of the country using the Hustler Nation narrative that is proving ‘tribeless,’ Raila cannot afford to lose this support base even if he was to get 40% of Mt Kenya votes, which is very unlikely.
A recent analysis of potential new voters per county puts Western Kenya ahead of other vote-rich regions, including the dominant Mt Kenya region.
As of December 2018, there were 25.4 million Kenyans aged 18 and above. This number is expected to increase by four million by 2022, according to 2019 Census data.
According to the numbers documented by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Meru, Machakos, and Bungoma counties will have the highest number of eligible voters by 2022.
Kakamega is projected to have 197,127 new voters in 2022, ahead of Kiambu and Nakuru, which will have an additional 134,159 and 189,082, respectively. However, the two Mt Kenya counties will still be ahead of others in the total tally.
For instance, Kiambu is expected to have a total of 1.6 million registered voters by 2022 followed by Nakuru at 1.3 million, Kakamega is estimated to have 1.1 million and Meru 1 million voters. Bungoma is expected to have 177,000 new voters, bringing its total tally to 931,091 voters.
Bungoma and Kakamega alone are projected to have 2 million votes in 2022. If Busia and Vihiga are incorporated, the whole of the Western region could produce up to 3 million votes.
In 2017, the Ukambani region had about 1. 7 million voters in 2017, the numbers are expected to shoot to over 2 million in 2022. Nairobi, which is considered a battleground, is projected to increase its voter tally from 2.8 million to 3 million.
Therefore, should Raila lose the support of the three NASA co-principals, his support base in Kakamega, Bungoma, Machakos, and even Nairobi will drastically shrink. This may not go down well with his bid considering a bigger percentage of Kiambu, Nakuru, and Meru votes are likely to go to Ruto’s basket.
The ODM leader is also facing rebellion at the Coast and is likely to lose some votes to Ruto who has been trying to make inroads in the region for the last four years.
It will be very difficult for Raila to win the presidency without the support of Western and Eastern regions considering he has no following in Rift Valley and stands no chance to convincingly beat Ruto in Central Kenya.
It is therefore critical that Raila, as he tries his last chance at the ballot, mends walls with his NASA co-principals to solidify his 2022 presidential race.