By Felix Olick
Opposition chief Raila Odinga is all set to be named the National Super Alliance presidential candidate at a “million man and woman” rally in Uhuru Park today.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto’s backing helped Raila to secure the ticket after days and nights of tense negotiations.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka had put up a fight for the ticket, insisting that a Kalonzo-Musalia Mudavadi ticket would have been the best.
“This was a tough call, but, eventually, all agreed that Raila was the best bet,” said an official privy to the negotiations.
Raila will be unveiled alongside Kalonzo as his running mate, setting the stage for a gruelling contest with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee Party.
Under the arrangement, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is proposed to take up a position that will be created after the election, and only in the event of victory, known as Premier Cabinet Secretary. The proposed position is touted to be influential, in charge of government coordination and supervision of all ministries.
The Premier Cabinet Secretary, equivalent to a chief minister, according to sources, will have the added portfolio of Internal Security and Administration of National Government.
The Constitution does not provide for this position.
Under the Premier CS will be two powerful deputies of equal rank. One will oversee the State Department of Public Service and the other will be in charge of the State Department of Devolution and Planning.
Sources indicate Rutto’s Chama Cha Mashinani will be allocated one of the two deputies to head the Devolution wing.
Welcoming Rutto into the NASA Pentagon, Raila said that with the governor’s entry, the alliance has gained a new general, “particularly for our battle to protect and preserve devolution”.
Rutto is defending his seat as Bomet Governor and it was not immediately clear whether he would resign to take up the proposed slot if NASA ascends to power.
The other deputy in charge of Public Service will go to Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya party.
The State Department of Public Service will also oversee Foreign Affairs and International Relations.
The Deputy Premier in charge of Devolution and Planning is also proposed to be in charge of the powerful Finance and Planning ministry.
By late afternoon yesterday, the five principals were still locked in boardroom discussions amid indications that Kalonzo was still dissatisfied with the NASA lineup.
The former Vice President favoured Mudavadi as his running mate, with Raila taking over as the Premier Cabinet Secretary.
Mudavadi also believed that he stood the best chance to beat Uhuru and his candidature would be more appealing in the Jubilee strongholds
By early evening, National Assembly minority leader Francis Nyenze was still insisting that Kalonzo must be declared the joint opposition presidential candidate.
“We have made it very clear that it is our candidate. Raila has tried twice, it is now Honourable Kalonzo Musyoka’s turn,” said an adamant Nyenze. “Anything short of that is not acceptable.”
Nyenze had been branded a hardliner in the 12-member National Coordination Committee that was the first to propose Raila for the top job. His party Wiper has threatened to go it alone, a move that would cripple the joint opposition initiative and hand Jubilee a far better fighting chance.
Sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes intrigues said Wetang’ula and Rutto threw their weight behind a Raila candidature, leaving Kalonzo with few options.
The NASA captains had pledged to remain united despite pressure from their supporters.
Wetang’ula on Thursday last week fired a warning salvo, saying, “We are telling Kenyans, if you are a Kalonzo supporter and you are saying, ‘if it is not Kalonzo you will not vote,’ then you are a Jubilee supporter. If you are a Raila supporter and you are saying ‘if it is not Raila, I will not vote,’ then you are Jubilee supporter”.
The 22 Cabinet slots provided in the Constitution have been organised into five clusters, each to be headed by one of the five principals. The principals have agreed to allocate themselves each four Cabinet positions – if they win.
They have emphasised that no tribe will dominate the Cabinet, in what is likely to be their rallying cry as they begin countrywide campaigns. NASA is painting the UhuRuto administration as failed, indifferent, irredeemably corrupt and a two-tribe outfit.
Apart from the Cabinet, each principal has also been guaranteed at least four parastatal slots of their choice.
The opposition chiefs have reserved two Cabinet slots and other positions until after the polls. They include the speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate and majority leaders in both Houses.
NASA is keen to recreate a political behemoth similar to the 2002 Narc wave that swept away Kanu from power after 39 years of incumbency.
The alliance has already unveiled a seven-pillar policy platform that would be the fulcrum of its presidential campaign.
These include national reconciliation and healing, resolving historical injustices – including implementation of the TJRC Report – as well as realising equality for women, youth, persons with disabilities, and disadvantaged communities.
The policy plan also involves strengthening devolution, establishing a government that is a servant of the people, realising social and economic rights as well as eradicating poverty and unemployment.
The opposition will pitch the themes of economic exclusion and sabotage, protecting devolution, correcting historical injustices and mega graft as their new rallying calls for Jubilee’s removal.
On Thursday next week, ODM will officially nominate Raila as its presidential flagbearer.