Is Mudavadi the man to watch

As the pushing and shoving for the ODM presidential nomination intensifies, sources within the party hint that Mr. Musalia Mudavadi will most likely be picked as the party’s presidential candidate through consensus.

In exclusive discussions with The Leader this week, insiders in the party disclosed that Mudavadi is the top contender after scoring highest in 17 criteria drawn by the party nomination committee chaired by the Emuhaya MP, Kenneth Marende.

The party nomination criteria have been discussed with all seven ODM presidential hopefuls but is yet to be approved and ratified by the party plenary, the highest decision making body that last met in Naivasha towards the end of last year.

The 17-point criteria proposed by the Marende committee are to consider, among other factors, the candidate with the best national appeal, the largest bloc vote, ability to fund a presidential campaign and track record on leadership. Others are a clean record of public service, international networks and age.

Though sources could not divulge to us all the 17 points, they confirmed that Mudavadi scores highest in about 10 of the 17 points and would most likely be agreed upon as the compromise candidate in the ODM nomination.

Perhaps buoyed by the new turn of events, the Mudavadi campaign bandwagon hit the ground running this week by launching a whirlwind countrywide tour to woo ODM delegates ahead of the party nomination scheduled for June. The tour began yesterday (Thursday) in the north Rift and will proceed to central and south Rift Valley over the weekend. Next week, Mudavadi’s entourage descends on the coast province.

In an exclusive interview, a key coordinator of Mudavadi’s campaign, Vihiga MP Andrew Ligale, said his candidate is not sitting back and waiting for somebody else to say Tosha but is sweating it out like anybody else.

Said he: “if he is picked by consensus and through a laid down and broadly accepted criteria, that is quite fine with us. If it will be nomination by delegates, we are still comfortable with that. We are going to battle it out.”

At the same time, Ligale dispelled the notion that Mudavadi was ever a front for Mr. Raila Odinga and dismissed it as a creation of the media.

He said the media have done a disservice to all by over-playing, even imagining, Raila’s role as a king-maker just because he once said tosha and it came to pass.

Ligale further disclosed that Mudavadi is working on his own “mission and vision” if he were to be president. “We will soon tell Kenyans what we stand for,” he said, adding that the priority now is to clinch the ODM nomination.

Mudavadi has already authored a book entitled ‘Re-thinking Development for 21st Century: A case for Kenya’. The bood is a summary of opinions formed when he was the country’s Minister for Finance from 1993 to 1997.

We have reliably learnt that a camp opposed to the 17 criteria has been pushing for an alternative one based on creation of a six-point power structure comprising of a president, two deputy presidents, a prime minister and two deputy prime ministers. The alternative structure was deliberately leaked to a section of the media early in the week and disguised as the official ODM line.

But a source dismissed it and said it was the work of the camp that feared losing out if the 17 criteria are adapted at the plenary.

Said the source: “We know the group. They have smelt defeat if the 17 point roadmap goes through and are trying to revive the old Bomas politics of a of a presidential vis a vis the parliamentary system. That way, they can be assured of a power that comes from board room brokering and not through the ballot.”

Sources within ODM likened the six-point power structure to a mirage as it is yet to be entrenched in the country’s constitution and cannot get the requisite two-thirds majority to pass it in the current parliament.

Said a source: “The six-point power structure will take us back to the 2002 MoU where positions were promised but not given simply because they were not in the Constitution. Neither was there a guarantee that they would ever be created once the coalition came to power.”

Back to the proposed 17 point criteria for picking the ODM consensus candidate, Mudavadi scores highest on one of the major areas, which is the largest bloc vote a candidate can bring to the table. At the sound of the whistle, mudavadi can marshal a million votes from the vast Western province and Trans Nzoia district, not to mention the large Luhya presence in Nakuru and Mombasa.

That is a powerful showing compared to Raila’s half a million votes in Luo Nyanza and another two hundred thousand outside Nyanza.

Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka is also trailing Mudavadi with a total of about six hundred Kamba votes in and outside Ukambani.

If Mudavadi is nominated the ODM candidate, pundits are agreed that he would prove the most daunting prospect in an orange shirt for Kibaki. If he is nominated and ODM remains intact, there is already near total unanimity that the Luhya, whose vote is usually divided between various parties, might decide to vote as a bloc for one of their own. Ford Kenya’s Musikari Kombo and Kaddu’s Cyrus Jirongo have intimated as much.

In addition to the votes the other so called luminaries would bring, there is also the prospect that the Kalenjin vote that would be determined by the preference of former president Moi would most likely go to him rather than to Kibaki as have been previously thought. Recent developments, certainly informed by the prospect of a Mudavadi candidacy under ODM, indicate that Moi could be warming up to ODM or, at least, is not as hostile to the party as he previously was. Mudavadi is related to Moi by marriage.

When it comes to delegates within ODM, only Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto would beat Mudavadi. However, in the final election, Mudavadi has a clear advantage in that he would carry the entire Luhya vote while Uhuru has to scavenge for the scant Mount Kenya vote he would be spared by the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki if both were on the ballot box.

Musalia also has a clear advantage over Ruto at the final poll on account of national appeal and past record. He may not exactly be Mr.Clean but certainly scores much higher than Ruto in terms of integrity.

Mudavadi also has another big advantage in not being as abrasive as his two better known adversaries within ODM, Raila and Kalonzo. His perceived political timidity may eventually prove an asset, the way it did for President Moi in the last days of Kenyatta administration, or president Kibaki in the countdown to the 2002 Tosha declaration.

Bookmark the permalink.