By Bernard Wainaina
Perhaps the most enigmatic thing about him though, is that the Presidency has eluded him.
That is Raila Amolo Odinga.
Mr Odinga has lost the Presidential race three times, yet he has not given up.
Right now, there are many who say that the
Okoa Kenya campaign that he is spearheading is a dress rehearsal for his fourth stab at the Presidency in 2017.
Just what keeps him ticking?
And will he be fourth time lucky?
Yes,if he can shake the faulty foundation of his kind of politics and rebuild a new strategy.
We have heard about Albert Einstein who said that when what you are doing does not seem to work, you must change tact.
Einstein said that doing things the same way and expecting different results is an exercise in futility.
Mr Odinga’s style seems to be to build up euphoria around an issue, with himself as the centrepiece.
He then expects that he can convert the euphoric movement into a voting machine that will deliver victory.
Such euphoria almost worked well for him with the 2005 referendum and its spin-off of the 2007 elections.
What Mr Odinga needs is a total shakeup.
The people he has worked with and the advice that he has listened to have failed him.
He may just want to try something
very new and different.
For a start, he needs to commission some harshly honest but sympathetic critics to give him a thoroughly frank opinion of what is wrong.
Then he must swallow the bitter political and organisational pill that they prescribe.
Sources close to the leader of the opposition Cord coalition indicate that he has been the
recipient of poor counsel from two close family members and two former British journalists.
The same duo also worked with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga when he had a go at the Presidency in 1992.
Put together with Mr Odinga’s own three failed attempts, these advisers have failed four times.
Clearly something is wrong with their counsel.
LUO VOTERS UNHAPPY
Besides, he will need to drop political baggage in Luoland.
This includes both family baggage and crony baggage.
In the last three general elections, there were complaints about favouritism in party primaries.
Voters in Luo Nyanza were unhappy that Mr Odinga “imposed” candidates upon them.
They asked why he found it necessary when his own presidential votes were assured.
This disquiet led to voter apathy in Mr Odinga’s stronghold.
Many potential voters did not vote in protest.
Mr Odinga has himself admitted this mistake and vowed that it will not happen again.
And yet this fits very well in a recurrent pattern.
He made the same admission and pledge after the elections of 1997 and those of 2007.
He has to win back the trust of an electorate
that feels taken for granted.
In a country in which political competition is ethnically profiled, Luo Nyanza suffers collective psychological damage and sometimes physical trauma as well each time Mr Odinga loses an election.
Yet at the same time there is serious voter apathy in this constituency.
Is the apathy a result of previous defeats or is the eventual defeat a factor of the apathy?
Mr Odinga needs to investigate this.
DEVELOPMENT AGENDA INSTEAD OF AGITATION
Some level of civic education in this constituency is also necessary, as is a serious development agenda.
In the absence of these two, the politics here hinge on patronage and handouts.
A society that bases its political choices on such criteria is condemned to perpetual under development.
There is hardly any development agenda to talk of in agriculture — the backbone of Kenya’s rural economy — or even in the fishing industry, which ought to be significant at
Indeed, the Luo people today tap next to nothing from the fish in Lake Victoria, the fishing business having been invaded by
other people from outside the region who have even gone ahead to rear fish in their backyards.
The political leadership in Luo Nyanza must urgently address these concerns before it can meaningfully generate fresh interest in itself.
Mr Odinga must lead, in this respect.
But his biggest asset is also his biggest liability.
His boldness easily makes him a threatening figure.
He must address this.
UhuruRuto used a liability-ICC cases-to bolster their victimhood politics while Raila came from a “clean man” front to lose the election;that’s food for thought for him.
He may also want to map out the political landscape better than he did last year, knowing where to inject more energy and resources and where to take it easy.
He tried to bleed rocks away from his strongholds in the last effort.
Too much time, energy and other resources were wasted in areas that were clearly infertile for him.
These and many other issues need to be reflected about ahead of the next poll, if Mr Odinga is going to be a Presidential
A reformist, it seems,also needs to reform himself sometimes before setting out for wider national reforms.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®