In Summary
  • Mr Orengo and Mr Nyoro are only stock characters in the emerging political game, where politicians only view each and every development through the lenses of the Ruto-Odinga political rivalry.

  • The power and perception wars in the Ugenya, Embakasi South and Wajir West by-elections, coupled with President Kenyatta’s central role, clearly tell the political story ahead of the 2022 polls and why it is shaping up into an affair of two players — Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga.

Samson Ndindi Nyoro, the Kiharu MP, has been celebrating Deputy President William Ruto’s by-election “poll victory” in Ugenya constituency on social media and at public functions, much to the amazement of local residents.

Retired teacher Meshak Ogolla, from Kateg-Ligala village in Sega location, is certain Mr Nyoro is unknown to him and his village-mates. The legislator, whose constituency is located 445 kilometres to the east of Ugenya, has probably never set foot in Sega or Ugenya as well.

2022 POLITICS

“He is most welcome to join us in celebrating Hon (David) Ochieng’s poll victory. He must, however, stop pretending that he understands better why we voted the way we did and which politician to credit or discredit for the poll outcome,” says Ogolla.

Japuonj (teacher), as Mr Ogolla is popularly referred to in the neighbourhood, similarly lambastes Senate Minority Leader James Orengo for being out of touch with the realities on the ground:

“Instead of addressing our needs during the campaigns, he staged colourful road shows talking about Raila’s 2022 presidential bid and Ruto’s planned impeachment. Some voters, especially the ageing ones, do not even know that man (Ruto).”

Mr Orengo and Mr Nyoro are only stock characters in the emerging political game, where politicians only view each and every development through the lenses of the Ruto-Odinga political rivalry.

On the morning of the by-elections, last Friday, Mr Nyoro made his prediction through a tweet, which came to pass: “We’re taking both Ugenya and Embakasi South. Our candidates Hon Ochieng and Hon Mawathe are curtainraisers for 2022. Baba should retire honourably. The writing is on the wall. We are African and Africa is our Business.”

And although Mr Ochieng has since denied the existence of a political connection with the DP or receiving financial support from the ruling Jubilee Party, the Orange party campaigners who fashioned the contest as one between Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga, cannot fault the DP for taking credit for “beating Raila” in Ugenya and Nairobi’s Embakasi South seat.

The anticipated “Ruto win over Raila” in the upcoming Wajir West by-election was supposed to sustain the pre-2022 poll momentum. The DP had reportedly outmanoeuvred the Orange party by wooing its candidate, Elmi Yusuf, to pull out of the race, following a daylong meeting at his Karen, Nairobi, home on Tuesday.

TWO PLAYERS

However, in counter-reaction, President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga quickly negotiated for Mr Yusuf’s withdrawal from the race in favour of Jubilee’s Ahmed Kolosh, according to party secretary-general Raphael Tuju.

The power and perception wars in the Ugenya, Embakasi South and Wajir West by-elections, coupled with President Kenyatta’s central role, clearly tell the political story ahead of the 2022 polls and why it is shaping up into an affair of two players — Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga.

It has narrowed down to a Ruto-Raila affair because one has openly declared his interest for the presidency, while the other has, through his party officials, vowed to stop the former’s march to State House.

“Odinga is also the obvious enemy and target of Team Ruto’s attacks because he is the sole realistic obstacle to the DP’s ambitions,” observes Nyando MP Jared Okello. Noting that the opposition leader has held sway on the Kenyan political scene over the past two decades, the MP asserts that Raila remains a threat to Ruto, “as a presidential challenger or even as kingmaker of a winning formation”.

Citing the handshake deal as an alleged ploy to block Mr Ruto’s presidential bid, Kericho County Senator Aaron Cheruiyot says Jubilee members “are only calling out the inconsistencies by Raila in the handshake deal”.

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