Raila’s stepping aside is a diversionary debate



THE raging debate on whether Raila Odinga should step down for somebody else in the opposition in the State House race is, in my view, diversionary.

I know no evidence that suggests that the opposition’s chance to outwit the ruling coalition out of power will be enhanced with a mere change of candidate. If this thinking is factual, does it mean that Raila is the problem for the opposition? Again, there is no evidence to push this line of thinking.

My view is that the challenges that confront the opposition are more critical than a change at the top. They need a clear strategy on how to dislodge Jubilee, and it is all too easy to say all that they need is another person carrying their flag.

Almost needless to say, it will take a miracle to kick the incumbent out. But that miracle is not another candidate. If Raila has to endorse a candidate, it must be accompanied with something else. That someone must be attractive to the coalition and also explain what he can offer different from the current ruling elite.

What Cord or the opposition need is a strategy. The strategy should clearly spell out what it is that they want to offer differently from their opponents. Such a strategy should explain what it is that is bringing them together and explain their agenda for the country. This will include crafting their message and delivering it in such a way that they will pull the country along with them.

With this kind of arrangement they can rally any candidate in their ranks and such candidate will most likely give the incumbent a run for his money.

The unity in the opposition should not be about an individual. It should be about issues characterised by an ideological underpinning that shows how different they are from the ruling coalition.

The idea of democratic nomination is good, but slippery and dangerous. Our political parties have not matured to the point where they can carry out a nomination process that is beyond reproach. Such a process must start from the grassroots and the likelihood of everything being messed up is real. If the opposition has to take that route, then it must opt for a negotiated process, as was the case in 2002.

The problem here is that this will require exceptional circumstances. In 2002, there was fatigue around Kanu.


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