It is now official that Raila Odinga does not support young people running for ODM’s senior party positions. As far as he is concerned such young leaders are like ‘lizards that are climbing trees, hoping that people will see them’. This was his definition of Ken Obura’s ambitions to be the ODM Secretary General.
Please note that Hon Obura is a validly elected ODM Member of Parliament. The former Prime Minister and Party Leader of ODM, who was himself a national party official in his late ’30s, is telling ‘young turks’ in ODM including yours truly who has ambitions for National Organizing Secretary, that as far as he is concerned we have no business imagining we can run a party like ODM.
I am sure Raila Odinga understands that our party (ODM) is most probably the only political party in Kenya that genuinely does not belong to any individual, family, group of political operatives, or community. As he himself keeps telling us ODM belongs to the Kenyan masses, across the country. One then wonders why he thinks that he can decide who should or should not run for a senior ODM party position? Why would a man who has done so much to get ODM to where it is, want to claw back all the gains the party has made?
Could the former Prime Minister be worried that once we start challenging some of the current party officials we might end up challenging all of them; including him, the party leader? Is he worried that one of the ‘younger turks’ might suggest that maybe his assumption that he is the ODM 2017 presidential candidate is premature; especially as he has already unsuccessfully tried to run for president thrice and failed? Is he worried that as we challenge Anyang’ Nyong’o and others, his ambitions to run for president for the fourth time might be adversely affected, and he might be asked to step aside and allow the party to present someone else as its candidate in 2017?
Could someone have whispered to the ODM Supremo that the analogy of ‘a horse in the race’ that he introduced in the last elections may come back to haunt him within the party if he allows other party officials to be challenged, when some ‘young turk’ questions the wisdom of ODM supporting a ‘horse’ that has already run thrice, and failed to get the trophy?
Could his current handlers be telling him that whereas the reasons for the 1997 loss are acceptable; i.e. that despite being a thoroughbred, the horse was not very familiar with the track; and that while those for the 2007 loss ‘can pass’; i.e. that the judges rigged him out and awarded the victory to another horse; the reasons for the 2013 loss (that it was a repeat of 2007 with the rider that the track was also structured to put him at a disadvantage) might not stand the test of time, especially in light of the loss of his friend Morgan Tsvangirai, in a similar fashion, in a similar political context, in Zimbabwe.
Could some of the senior ODM party officials who are sure they will be thrown out in the house cleaning required in ODM be telling ‘Jakom’ that the purge these ‘young turks’ are planning against his loyalists (as they describe themselves) is only the first step, and that some young political maverick who does not understand how political hierarchies work will thereafter suggest that maybe it is time ODM considered changing horses in preparation for 2017?
Is this why Raila Odinga has started a war against young independent-minded leader’s in ODM?
Does he understand that his utterances show him as a political dictator out to viciously cut down anyone who challenges him or his ‘loyalists’? Does he realize that such utterances ironically place him in the same position with leaders like former President Moi, who he made his political credentials fighting? Is this how he wants us to make ours?
Raila must support the proposed leadership changes in ODM because if insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results, it is insane to expect different results in 2017 if the current leaders are in charge then. He must also accept that the current system of the party operating as a project (or appendage) of the presidential candidate does not work; if ODM is to get into statehouse in 2017 our next presidential candidate must be a project of the party.
Finally, Raila must accept that all the national positions in ODM, including his, need to be challenged in preparations for 2017. This way the team in-charge of the party at the next general elections will be the best available; even if they are all young! He must remember we lost the last presidential contest to a party whose chairman was not even 30 years old!