It would be hard to ignore the 2022 succession battling unfolding, even as the country faces the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has definitely hampered Deputy President William Ruto's ambition, forcing him to return back to the drawing board.
Despite Odinga shying away from confirming whether or not he will run for the presidency, analysts argue that it is a matter of when and not if he would toss himself into the arena to battle it out with Ruto, who has been adamant on clinching victory.
As Ruto and other politicians assemble teams and map out regions, seven key individuals will play a big role in deciding his fate and those of others, as Kenyans have proven to vote on tribal affiliations and regional kingpins have the power to sway voters.President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the media at State House, Nairobi where he announced the approval of Google Loon Services in Kenya to enable universal 4G data coverage in the country.PSCU
1. Mt Kenya - Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta's retirement decision is a bone of contention and has stirred Ruto's camp, with many of the DP's allies urging him to go home. Kenyatta's associates have, however, been resolute that he will be in power in 2022, with the Head of State himself playing cagey with the decision.
Whether or not he goes home, University of Nairobi lecturer, Dr. Jane Thuo argues that he could still have a major say on which side Central Kenya will align itself as the battle to take over Kenyatta's regional mantle speeds up.
"He is the leader right now. However, we have seen Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru rising up and she is always topping because of her relationship with Uhuru. I would have brought Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika into the game but she is still young in the arena.
"My analysis is that women must always position themselves strategically if they want to rise. They still have to align with men, as it is a divine nature and patriarchal, for them to succeed. Waiguru with no political mileage ascended into power without any political background. That is what kills Martha Karua (former Presidential aspirant). She wants to go alone and it is tough," Thuo, the gender media analyst argued.
She, however, noted that Peter Kenneth may rise to the occasion as well as Health CS and former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe. The latter's glory would, however, be determined by how he handles the Covid-19 pandemic, as it may break or make him.
2. Rift Valley - William Ruto
Ruto has had the regions backing since the 2007 controversial election and has majority backing in the area. On Tuesday, April 28, University of Nairobi Professor, Herman Manyora opined that despite Gideon Moi rising after his father Mzee Daniel Arap Moi death, Ruto still rules the region.
"It is only a matter of time before Building Bridges Initiative throws away Ruto then Gideon will rise and Kalenjin will support him. But as for now, Ruto is the Kalenjin kingpin. Gideon is also insurance to BBI and throwing out Ruto may create a backlash and Gideon will act as welfare and support," Manyora stated.
Jane Thuo, however, noted that Gideon Moi may dent Ruto's ambitions as he may split the region's votes. Ruto's allies are still uncertain and many of them such as Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago are still wavering and undecided on who to support.Deputy President William Ruto and ODM Leader Raila Odinga meet on April 20, 2016.
"If someone damages your ambition even a little, then they force you to adopt a new strategy. Gideon is an underdog and remember, the most dangerous person is one who has nothing to lose. Don't underestimate Gideon as he may garner a few seats or use 2022 to test his waters," the don stated.
3. Nyanza - Raila Odinga
This is one region which its leader is undisputed, as no succession battle has emerged and it is united behind Raila Odinga.
Thuo, however, pinpoints to the fact that Education CS Fred Matiang'i may be the next regional kingpin as he is being groomed to take over from Odinga. Matiang'i, from Kisii County, may be the only person who would unite all counties within Nyanza and Kisii region.
"Anyone Raila vouches for is definitely quite sure of winning the 2022 race," Thuo states.
4. Coast - Hassan Joho
The Mombasa Governor has risen through the ranks, ascending to a seat of power which can allow him to dictate how the region could vote. Thuo argues that the region tends to lean towards Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi also supports the duo.
"Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, however, inclines towards Ruto but the region is definitely under Joho, Uhuru and Raila and they would support anyone Raila and Uhuru pick," the communication consultant opined.
Mvurya, Kingi and Joho are all serving their last terms as governors and the area would rely on of them to step up and lead as they all may venture into national politics.Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho (centre) addresses the media in Mombasa on March 26, 2020
5. Western Kenya - Raila Odinga
Western Kenya has for years been one of the most divided areas, but Raila Odinga has had a major say in the region, coupled up with disunited leaders Moses Wetangula (Ford-Kenya), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Wycliffe Oparanya (ODM).
University of Nairobi don Herman Manyora holds the opinion that Odinga is more powerful in the region and has the backing of local leaders to boost his support in the region.
"If Raila needs a sure win over Ruto he must find a way to deal with Mudavadi and Musyoka. NASA has a sure chance if they stick together. However, Oparanya has proven he has more muscle in Western than Mudavadi. Raila without Mudavadi can get half of Western and it becomes stronger with Oparanya," Manyora argues.
Thuo agrees, adding that despite Ruto trying to infiltrate the region through leaders such as Boni Khalwale (former Kakamega Senator), Raila is the region's kingpin.
"Mudavadi, Oparanya and Wetangula are now pro-Uhuru and they also listen to Odinga. It will be hard for Ruto to clinch the area," Dr Thuo weighed in.Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga greets ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi in Tigoni, Kiambu County, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
6. Eastern- Alfred Mutua
''I will officially launch my campaign to be the next president of Kenya in 2022. I will show Kenyans that it's is possible for a child to be born in the villages, dream, work hard with a pure heart and achieve his or her dream," Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua tweeted on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, as the battle for Ukambani kingship between him and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka continues.
Mutua has formed a formidable relationship with Kitui and Makueni counterparts, Charity Ngilu and Kivutha Kibwana respectively, as Musyoka's influence in the region keeps fading away.
"Mutua is rising. As you know, everyone knows that Kalonzo has a history of unwavering support (the watermelon tag). With Kivutha and Ngilu backing him, he will topple Kalonzo.
"I don't think Kalonzo would try a hand in national politics again. He may be rewarded with another bigger seat in the executive whether there will be a BBI government or not," Thuo stated.Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua speaking during a press briefing at his Mavoko, Athi River, office on April 12, 2020.File
7. North-Eastern - Aden Duale
He is not the most influential leader in the region, but he is definitely the most vocal and well known. The Garissa Town MP and National Assembly Majority Leader is a vocal supporter of William Ruto but the region is also one divided area that can suit anyone who fully exploits it.
"North-Eastern is a grey area and anyone can infiltrate. Duale is the most vocal but may not be the most influential.
"Clans plays a bigger role in the region and remember its a region with diverse communities, not Somali's only. They tend to somehow lean towards Raila and Uhuru, but Ruto has traversed the region and spread his name," Thuo analysed.
As calls for formations and mergers rise, presidential aspirants will have to map regions and calculate the votes they can garner from each region. Despite national popularity, regional leaders will have a say on how the areas may vote. However, new leaders keep emerging and with 2022 a long way to go, the succession card is still a wide book that will take time to be read.National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale addresses the media on June 13, 2019.Citizen Digital
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