The name Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka must be on the Nasa presidential ticket if the Opposition wants to have a fighting chance against Jubilee. Likewise, Raila should consider not being on the ticket, in the greater interest of victory.
Without this, Nasa should consider the election lost, even before the first vote is cast. Jubilee knows this only too well. This explains their unremitting ploys to have Kalonzo quit Nasa to either join them or run on a separate Wiper ticket.
From a geopolitical angle, Kalonzo brings to Nasa a sense of regional balance and a massive Kamba vote. The triumvirate of Raila, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula is from the Lake Basin. Without Kalonzo on the ticket, Nasa becomes a narrow regional caucus, pushing for parochial regional goals. The three Lake Basin leaders should, therefore, know that it will be one of them and Kalonzo. They may even want to consider allowing him to carry the flag while they mobilise support for him.
Whether he is the flagbearer or running mate, Kalonzo is priceless. In the 2013 elections, his Ukambani region brought to Cord slightly over 800,000 votes.
This is to say nothing of the Kamba vote elsewhere in the country, and especially from the coast and Nairobi. Seeing that President Kenyatta won the election with a narrow margin, it is common knowledge that if you remove Kalonzo from the equation, the August election will be a mere formality. Raila’s “attack dogs” in Nasa must, therefore, go easy on Kalonzo.
Without him on the ticket, it will not even matter that Kalonzo remains in Nasa, or that he urges the Akamba people to vote for the alliance. With such troublesome upstarts as Maendeleo Chap Chap persuasively prancing about the place, it will be a herculean task to convince Ukambani to stay with Nasa.
Where the Kamba voters will not vote for Jubilee, they will just stay at home. Let us just say this Nasa spacecraft will be a stillborn nonstarter. Whatever they decide, and howsoever they go about it, the Nasa technical team now looking for a winning formula will have to consciously seek to have Kalonzo on the ticket.
It is not a secret, of course, that Raila is the most popular of the four presidential aspirants in Nasa. He has some meaningful direct appeal to voters across the country, including in the strongholds of all of his three colleagues in Nasa. Make no mistake about that. He plays a pivotal role in the union and in its strategic thrust. He has the magic to hold the alliance together. He is an invaluable father figure in the union, a central pillar of hope and inspiration.
Yet, tragically, popularity and father symbolism is not synonymous with acceptability or electability. Nor does Raila’s other assets and historical reform agenda. Without the triad of Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula, Raila’s popularity and history will count for nothing. His history and foothold in his teammates’ strongholds is not good enough to deliver the ultimate prize without them. But their support alone is not good enough either. They must run. If not, Raila will win the battle for the Nasa ticket, but he will lose the war for the Presidency.
The choice before Raila is simple: does he want a battle within Nasa, or does he want Nasa to clinch the ultimate prize? A ticket with him as the flagbearer is dead even if Kalonzo is the running mate.