Former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar’s defection to Jubilee is yet another pointer that the NASA house is tumbling and further dents any hope of its presidential candidate Raila Odinga ascending to the presidency. President Uhuru Kenyatta's performance in the August 8 General Election clearly showed he has made inroads in the region, formerly under Raila's grip, thanks to the many development initiatives he has launched since 2013.
Since the Supreme Court nullified his win on November 1, rather than spend all his time ruing the controversial decision, the President and his Deputy William Ruto have been traversing the country in search of more votes to ensure an even more emphatic victory come October 26. Raila, on the other hand, has spent most of his time at press conferences in Nairobi issuing demand after demand. From his visits to the Coast and Western, all indications are that the President will whitewash Raila in the rerun.
Several leaders in these and other areas that were previously aligned to the Opposition, have been trooping to Jubilee and voicing their support for President Uhuru's candidature. However, Omar is among the key catches that Jubilee has harvested from its relentless campaigns in regions considered Opposition bastions.
While it took considerable efforts by Ruto to woo the former senator to the ruling coalition, Raila and NASA have themselves to blame for the strategic mistakes they have committed before and after the General Election, which will cost them heavily at the ballot. According to Omar, his fallout with the Raila brigade started when they ejected the Isaack Hassan-led commissioners from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from office after failing to garner one million signatures required to trigger a referendum.
At the time, Jubilee reluctantly agreed to the formation of an inter-party parliamentary committee to midwife various amendments to avert a situation that could have plunged the country into chaos. This time round, Raila and NASA are targeting some commissioners, CEO Ezra Chiloba and other top directors at the commission.This despite the Supreme Court's finding that it had not found anyone criminally liable for the "illegalities and irregularities" in the transmission of presidential election results on which they based their verdict.
High Court Judge John Mativo made a similar finding when he dismissed a case filed by three voters against Chairman Wafula Chebukati and other officials, terming their move premature. Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has also ordered the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to probe claims made by NASA and some civil society groups and report back to him. Why is NASA not waiting for the outcome of this investigation, which will subject the IEBC officials to due process? Is there something it knows that Kenyans don’t?
As Hassan rightly noted, Raila has made a habit of mob lynching public officers and soiling their integrity without due process. This for a man who has arrogated to himself the tag of Kenya's foremost justice crusader is troubling. At the same time, the fact that NASA does not embrace inclusiveness is best illustrated by its failure to constitute parliamentary committees. While the Opposition coalition has been claiming that the move will await the fresh election, it is a poorly kept secret that it was shelved after leaders from regions such as the Coast kicked off a ruckus as the proposed line-up favoured communities from which the principals hail. Had it gone through, the leaders were threatening to withdraw their support for NASA.
Already, there is internal disaffection over the manner in which NASA affiliates approached both the party primaries and the general election. The fact that leaders formerly leaning towards the Opposition such as Omar are backing President Uhuru based on his development strategy makes it clear that they are slowly realising the folly of empty politicking.
There must be development-conscious leaders within NASA who are uncomfortable with his militarist approach to the elections and it is only a matter of time before they come out in the open.