The battle for Kibra Constituency is emerging to be a fight between key individuals and camps which are positioning themselves inside the Presidency and State House.
According to sources close to the Presidency and State House, President Uhuru Kenyatta, PS Karanja Kibicho, Muhoho Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto are all actively involved in the by-election.
The battle which is pitting some of the most powerful individuals in the country is proving to be so polarising that even Raila is now thinking twice and just looking for ways of working with whoever will win the seat.
First, it is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s camp which is being commanded by PS Karanja Kibicho. The powerful Interior Ministry PS has pushed all resources to ODM’s Bernard ‘Imran’ Okoth. He has gone further and instructed the Regional Administration in Nairobi to ensure that the ODM candidate wins the seat as his brother was a key individual used by State House to mellow Raila in contests Uhuru had with Raila.
Being a political water-melon in Nairobi and representing ODM supremo’s political bedroom, the late Ken Okoth was able to ensure that the Kibra youth were not used in violent confrontations with the police during his tenure.
State House hopes that the brother will maintain that.
But there is a disagreement in State House with President Uhuru’s brother, Muhoho Kenyatta, the man said to be the de facto President, silently backing former Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat boss, Eliud Owalo.
With Owalo, the President’s brother knows that being confrontational, he can be used to tame the Deputy President and even Raila in case Uhuru Kenyatta falls out with the opposition boss or his deputy. So strong is Muhoho Kenyatta’s or MK (as he is silently called) support for Eliud Owalo in Kibra Constituency contest that even pundits are questioning the new-found guts of Owalo in challenging Raila and everything he stands for in his stronghold.
In Kibra, there exists a network of ODM die-hards as well as the strongest roots of some of the young men used to provide private security at party functions famously known as Men-In-Black. The Men-In-Black loyalists are known to take instructions from no one in the party but ODM leader Raila Odinga and his immediate family members.
It’s also in this constituency that some of Raila’s most trusted confidantes and political strategists reside. At every ODM function and when things are thick, it takes men like Onyango Ketta (former Kibera CDF Chairman) and Erastus Okul (former Gor Mahia chairman) to tame a wayward and unlistening Raila.
Erastus Okul and his wife at our home. Led by Joe Adewa, we spent a pleasant day at Okul’s Home in Karachuonyo on 23rd Decemeber. pic.twitter.com/vHLcarhkTD
— James Orengo (@orengo_james) December 31, 2017
In the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominations for Kibra Constituency by-election, Peter Ochieng’ Orero was Raila’s preferred candidate. Scheming by state agents inside Orange House saw Imran Okoth clinch the ticket when he used the CDF database as the ODM members register. Imran Okoth and Edwin Sifuna also made sure that key opponents didn’t manage to have people cast the nomination ballots in their respective strongholds.
That gave the late Ken Okoth’s brother a clean sweep.
But it’s DP Ruto who is going to be the man to watch in Kibra. Sources close to the Deputy President and his Kibra strategy have intimated to this blog that Kibra Constituency is the last whip DP Ruto is going to use to discipline Raila the last time.
So determined is Ruto to end Raila’s reign in Kibra that he has deployed resources worth tens of millions of shillings just to push McDonald Mariga’s candidature, despite the alternative advice and fight back by people close to him.
DP William Ruto first had a conversation with DJ Kriss Darlin who was interested in the seat. With the Dj being too posh to push and a Luo, his win in Kibra would still have given Raila a backdoor entry in Kibra. Ruto advised Kriss Darlin to try his luck in ODM, though the preferred candidate was clear and the prevailing interests were, sure enough, not going to allow Kriss to even be among the top three.
So Deputy President Willia Ruto looked for a candidate who is from a strong but almost politically neutral community to be a candidate in Kibra. Mariga fit the bill as he is from the Luhya community which has strong representation in ruling as well as opposition formations. Even with Mariga doubting himself, DP Ruto’s push has inspired rare confidence in the soccer legend who has never voted in his life despite nearing 40 years in age.
Already, DP Ruto has taken care of the campaigns and Kibra dynamics to have Mariga penetrate the constituency without Raila’s hardcore goons and adherents scaring the political newbie. The second phase of DP Ruto’s strategy to capture Kibra has been to tame ODM leadership in Nairobi, more-so, the leading Luhya politicians in the city.
Edwin Sifuna and George Aladwa have developed cold feet with every instance they try to market Imran Okoth, a good number of well-positioned Luhya leaders in Kibra Constituency have reminded them that they must not betray their community in this key constituency.
Raila Odinga just hosted an ODM parliamentary group meeting at County Hall, Nairobi, which was just attended by a handful of the MPs. In fact, attendees wondered why just over 20 MPs attending despite the party having more than 90 members in combined National Assembly and the Senate.
During the parliamentary group meeting, the ODM leader reached out to the likes of Aisha Jumwa asking them to come back and help campaign for ODM in Kibra.
Opponents of DP Ruto might just be underrating him as he is the individual who delivered wins for both Uhuru and Raila in huge margins. His stint at ODM saw the party well funded, youth’s morale high and votes accounted for.
Those who were close to the Jubilee Party campaigns in 2013 and 2017 would narrate to you how DP Ruto pushed President Uhuru’s team to conduct more campaign stops and tours in the periods. By the end of 2017 election campaign period, Raila had only done above 150 campaign stops while President Uhuru and Ruto were nearing over 800 campaign stops.
The push by teetotaling Ruto for more stops was so intense that he’d bust into the campaign secretariat and ask why only five stops were scheduled for a weekend when they could do over twenty-five.