Raila Odinga ran for the presidency three times but failed to clinch the seat in 1997, 2007 and 2013. He is closely associated with the opposition politics. His supporters label him as the ‘best’ president that Kenya never had. They praise him for his contribution to the second liberation in Kenya. Others claim he is the ‘father’ of multi-party democracy in Kenya.
Many attribute his inability to clinch the presidency to bad karma despite him being very popular. Raila Odinga himself feels that the establishment rigged him out in the 2007 and 2013 general election. Many of his supporters share the same feeling. This narrative has made him and his followers bitter and dissatisfied.
Raila Odinga rejected the results for the two general elections. The aftermath of the 2007 general elections was a bloody violence with many lives lost and property destroyed. Raila referred to the Supreme Court as koti bandia (fake court) in 2013 after the court rejected his presidential petition.
Why Raila Odinga risks never being president
It is not bad karma Raila Odinga has never and probably never will be president. He is to blame for many of his own political misfortunes. He is oblivious to these mistakes and does not make any effort to correct them. Raila turns a blind eye and shifts the blame to others. This has cost him dearly.
Raila Odinga is untrustworthy
Many of his past comrades refer to him as an untrustworthy person. He has exploited and dumped many allies and politicians. A good example is the current Deputy President William Ruto. Another example is his former political advisor Miguna Miguna.
Ruto was a key ODM official when ODM and PNU formed the Coalition Government in April 2008. Nevertheless, he felt politically shortchanged alongside his allies with the deal ODM signed with PNU. When he tried to complain, Raila’s influence saw him shifted from the powerful Agriculture Ministry. Eventually, Kibaki fired him after consulting with the then Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
When the ICC cases began, many of Ruto’s supporters felt that he did not deserve to be at The Hague. They said that Raila used him as a scapegoat. The narrative that Raila took Ruto to Hague made him to lose the support of Ruto’s political base entirely.
His co-principals in CORD also feel that he is betraying them by refusing to endorse their candidacy for the presidency as agreed in 2013. He has already declared he will not step down for anyone.
He loves sycophancy
Raila Odinga loves sycophancy. He loves working with people who worship him. He does not take competition kindly and hates criticism at all costs. When you try to challenge him, his army of sycophants tries to silence you. He kicks you out of his camp once he realizes that you have outlived your usefulness. This hero worship has made him think that he is a political demigod. He thinks he is indispensable to Kenyan politics.
He sees Kenyans as mean ingrates
Raila Odinga also thinks that Kenyans owe him a favour for his role in the second liberation. He thinks he did Kenyans a big favour. Thus, he desperately wants Kenyans to reward him. He thinks Kenyans can only repay this ‘favour’ by giving him the presidency. He sees it as a quid pro quo (nipe nikupe).
Thus, he might possibly see Kenyans as mean ingrates for failing to grant him his wish. He might be bitter and resentful for this. Yet, we cannot attribute the democratic rights we enjoy right now to him alone. There are many others influential to the second liberation. For example, Kenneth Matiba, Timothy Njoya, Charles Kipsang arap Muge, Koigi wa Wamwere, Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki and his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
Raila is a turncoat revolutionary
Unlike the other freedom fighters who stuck to the course, Raila Odinga betrayed the course. He joined the oppressive Moi regime that he had fought tooth and nail before. The same government had detained him without trial for six years.
Moi promoted him to his cabinet as the Minister for Energy after his NDP party agreed to work with KANU. This merger followed his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in the 1997 general elections.
His source of wealth is obscure
With his taste of power, he became the same enemy he was ostensibly fighting before. All of a sudden, he began to accumulate a lot of wealth using his influence as the energy minister. He became an overnight big business magnate in the oil and petroleum industry.
Soon after, he acquired the Kisumu Molasses Plant. He has maintained that his family acquired the plant legally without political influence. However, it remains suspect why this happened just after Raila Odinga became Moi’s ally only for Moi to promote him to the cabinet.
He became a billionaire within a decade of enjoying political power. Yet, he keeps the source of his wealth obscure, even in his own biography.
He is power hungry
He is well-known as a key mastermind of the botched 1982 coup that aimed to topple the Moi regime. The coup left many civilians dead and property destroyed.
He joined KANU thinking Moi would declare him the presidential candidate for KANU for the 2002 general elections. Moi and KANU overlooked him and instead chose Uhuru Kenyatta. He defected in protest and formed the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). LDP later merged with other political parties to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).
He had struck a deal with Kibaki to make him Prime Minister, but Kibaki did not honour the deal. He left the government in protest and formed the opposition. In 2008, his advisors like Miguna Miguna advised him to opt for fresh elections after the disputed December polls. They were sure he would win. However, he took the shortcut and opted for the ‘nusu mkate’ coalition government. We all know what happened after that.
He is vindictive and will become a dictator
Raila Odinga shows a strong desire for revenge. He does not think twice about the influence of his actions on others. People fear he will extend this vindictive nature to the presidency. He will become dictatorial and authoritarian, disregarding the rule of law at every turn.
His use and dump policy will see many who question his authority face persecution. In addition, many think that he will follow in the footsteps of Moi by economically sabotaging certain ethnic communities.
He cannot control his rowdy supporters
A certain group of his supporters is violent and rowdy. He has shown inability to control them. This makes people paranoid about his leadership.
He dislikes young people
He likes the old guards who have been with him since the beginning and distastes youthful leadership. His unseen hand showed itself in the onslaught against the ‘young Turks’ who tried to take over the leadership of ODM party. MPs Ababu Namwamba and Ken Obura are among the major victims of this onslaught.
He once compared Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura to a lizard that craved for recognition and climbed a tree hoping that people would see it. This was after Obura expressed his interest in vying for the ODM party’s post of Secretary General.
This dislike for youth leadership has taken away the vibrancy in his party and style of politics. It contributed to his loss in 2013 in a major way. The same worked in favour of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. He relies on the old ways of doing things and the old guard to advise him and run his political campaigns.
His indirect influence saw the infamous ‘men in black’ disrupt ODM elections in 2014. He even admitted that the men dressed in black were part of ODM security.
Raila Odinga promotes tribal politics
He describes himself as a reformist and a social democrat. However, that is just a facade he uses to disguise his real self. He is a big proponent of tribal politics and the sole political demigod of the Luo community.
If he fails to correct these mistakes, it will cost him the presidency for the fourth time in 2017. He cannot expect to do things the same way and expect different results.