Just what has the ODM supremo Raila Amollo Odinga been up-to and what is the end game? This is the question that has been on the minds of many his followers, supporters, allies and foes alike.
The Opposition honcho has hosted key politicians from opposing camps in recent months as he stepped up a charm offensive; with a section of his new found admirers being politicians decamping from Deputy President William Ruto’s wing.
Insiders have thus intimated that the ODM leader’s allies saying he is sewing together a new alliance to bolster up his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta. Raila has in the last couple of months been holding a series of a high-profile meetings that have resulted in sworn critics switching alliances.
The meetings mostly held at his Capitol Hill offices and Karen home have triggered speculation that the former premier could be putting in place regional kingpins to push his possible presidential bid in 2022.
Since handshake, Raila appears to be succeeding in penetrating Central and other regions that did not previously support his bid, and converted some of his former political foes into dependable lieutenants.
Some of the high-profile political figures who have switched camps and declared their backing for Raila include Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Mandera Governor Ali Roba, embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Laikipia Woman Rep Cate Waruguru and Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere.
Others are Lands Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro and Suleiman Shahbal, a 2017 Mombasa Jubilee gubernatorial candidate.
Allies of the Odinga dynasty have revealed a strategy of isolating his main rival Ruto, while bringing on board influential political figures ahead of an impending referendum and 2022 General Election.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli said they are pulling out all the stops to have Ruto isolated, even within his Rift Valley backyard.
“I can tell you that Western Kenya is now a closed chapter and is solidly behind Uhuru and Raila. Those still sitting on the fence have to make up their minds about where they belong before it is too late. It is either you are backing the BBI or you are with Ruto. Ruto cannot be an alternative for the Western region, and I have said it on more than one occasion that he (Ruto) will not be president in 2022.”
In efforts to woo North Eastern, Raila has had four meetings with Roba and another with Mandera MPs, both from Jubilee and the Economic Freedom Party (EFP).
Roba has been one of Ruto’s strong supporters in a region where a majority of MPs were elected on either Jubilee or EFP, an affiliate of the ruling party, tickets.
Raila is in the race to spruce up Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, CS Wamalwa and other new faces to take up the positions of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, his partners in the National Super Alliance (NASA).
At the Coast, Raila has bagged new allies in Mung’aro and Shahbal. Both unsuccessfully contested under Jubilee in 2017 against ODM candidates for Kilifi and Mombasa governor slots, respectively.
The two have held several meetings with Raila in what is perceived to be an attempt to win his backing in their 2022 second bids.