Ahead of the 2002 elections, there was a flurry of activity among Opposition politicians as they toyed with the idea of fielding a single candidate to face off with Kanu. In the previous two elections, former President Moi had won the election as a result of a divided opposition that pulled in different sides.
That time, President Moi was not running for election and had endorsed Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed him. This resulted in a walkout from the then ruling party by its newest partner Liberal Party of Kenya led by Raila Odinga and others like the late George Saitoti who felt betrayed by the endorsement of Uhuru Kenyatta.
Two months before the December 2002 election, Raila Odinga pulled a card that surprised many including some of his colleagues in the Opposition when he declared “Kibaki Tosha”. Kibaki became the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) candidate and went on to beat Uhuru.
And 14 years later, we appear to be standing at the same position that gave birth to a united opposition, under NARC. There has been an assumption that President Uhuru Kenyatta stands a good chance for re-election with Raila Odinga seen as the only viable contender.
While this appears true, the Jubilee Party should anticipate and prepare for the National Super Alliance (NASA) being fronted by the opposition chiefs. The Jubilee Party must recall that President Uhuru Kenyatta beat ODM’s Raila Odinga with less than a million votes in 2013.
Actually, the win by Uhuru in 2013 was just about 8,000 votes above the 50 per cent plus one vote mark. Without the 8,000 votes, the election would have moved to a run off in which Raila and the rest could have joined forces.
The key proponent of the NASA alliance is ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi who got over slightly below half a million votes in 2013. If his NASA idea becomes a reality, the opposition would form a force that can easily give Uhuru and Ruto a run for their money come August, next year.
In all indications, those in the Opposition know that apart from holding the State power, the Jubilee Party has endeared to Kenyans, especially in rural areas, through various projects. Therefore, the primary focus of this NASA is not to win but to lose and ensure that Jubilee Party does not win in round one.
This alliance can achieve this objective either by going as a United front, or by splitting into parties and each party going for the elections individually but united by a common purpose – deny Jubilee victory.
This is dangerous for Jubilee and Uhuru Kenyatta as NASA can have a viable chance to win by forcing a rerun, and uniting during the rerun.
As I have written before those in Jubilee seem more focused on who will compete with Ruto in 2022, rather than focusing on the 2017 election. On the opposite side, the opposition appears focused and moving full steam ahead towards 2017 with the goal of denying Jubilee outright victory.
Over the last week, Jubilee supporters have been focused on the announcement by Peter Kenneth that he will be supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election. Instead of focusing on welcoming PK and his supporters to the Jubilee fold, some are preoccupied on how this will affect Ruto’s candidature in 2022.
This preoccupation with 2022 and the assumption that Uhuru has already won the 2017 election is what is likely to cost Jubilee the Presidency. Focus must be on ensuring that all Jubilee supporters are registered as voters and that they actually show up to vote on election day.
So to my fellow jubilee members and as I have opined here before, the 2017 election is not in the bag yet. Complacency and voter empathy coupled with a United opposition can make us lose the presidency and majority seats in the national and county assemblies.
We need a change of tact, re- strategize, re – energize our base and immediately start an effective get out the vote campaign. We cannot allow NASA to pull another NARC moment that will make President Uhuru Kenyatta a one term President.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)