- Mr Tuju has transformed himself into one of the main confidantes of the region’s political kingpin and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga in just under a year.
- Today he is a key adviser to the former Prime Minister, a point man in coordinating development projects in the Nyanza region on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
- This new found rapport with Mr Odinga has also endeared him to other senior politicians in the region led by Siaya Senator James Orengo.
A warm welcome by Rarieda locals and a statement by Mr Raphael Tuju on Thursday summed up the sudden change in the fortunes for a man once referred to as the rebel of Nyanza politics.
From a person once regarded as a ‘persona non-grata’ and one who had “betrayed” the community, Mr Tuju has transformed himself into one of the main confidantes of the region’s political kingpin and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga in just under a year.
Today, he is a key adviser to the former Prime Minister, a point man in coordinating development projects in the Nyanza region on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, a protector of the handshake and an important figure in 2022 succession politics — especially against Deputy President William Ruto.
The former Rarieda MP previously had it rough trying to sell the Jubilee Party in Nyanza or even attempting to resurrect his political career by joining other less toxic political formations in the region.
On February 3, 2018 for instance, Mr Tuju was forced to cut short his speech after he was heckled in Siaya County for ridiculing the mock swearing-in ceremony of Mr Odinga which had taken place at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park days earlier.
Conscious of the hostility he was likely to meet while popularising his Party of Action (POA) outfit in Kisumu in 2012, Mr Tuju came wearing a helmet in readiness for any consequences.
While he managed to open an office in the restive Nyalenda slums under heavy police protection, the same would be defaced that same night by unknown people.
It is against this backdrop that the political scene has watched in surprise the new found rapport between Mr Odinga and Mr Tuju.
In an interview with the Nation on Saturday, Mr Tuju spoke passionately about the latest developments which have placed him right within Mr Odinga’s inner circles, a move he attributes to the former ODM leader’s change of political style.
“Any mobilisation against a tribe is not welcome in my scheme of thought. Right now the President is talking about the Big Four agenda plus fighting corruption and uniting the country and Raila is the interlocutor with the president as far as this is concerned,” said Mr Tuju.
He says his entry into Mr Odinga’s “kitchen cabinet” is based on the quest by the handshake to unify the country, “that is goal which is in tandem with my own beliefs”.
Mr Tuju noted that his working with Mr Odinga should not be misconstrued as aimed at gaining political leadership in the region.
“I have no interest whatsoever of becoming the governor of Siaya for example or MP for Rarieda. I have stated it before and I state it again. From the time I left active politics, I went back to private endeavours which kind of confine me to Nairobi.”
The Jubilee Secretary General adds: “People, especially people of the Nyanza region think that if I am seen to be working with Mr Odinga then it means I am interested in a certain political office. The truth of the matter is that I am not.”
He said the handshake which the President and Mr Odinga have been spearheading is geared at uniting all Kenyans regardless of their ethnic orientation.