National Super Alliance (Nasa) principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula Tuesday skipped the “swearing-in” of their 2017 presidential candidate Raila Odinga to the disappointment of thousands of supporters.
After so much tough talk, it was only Mr Odinga who turned up to face a sea of humanity at Uhuru Park and went on to take the oath as the “people’s president.”
It was Mr Odinga’s make-or-break six minutes at the podium — a bride at the altar abandoned by the maids of honour who had excitedly cheered her on during the planning of the wedding.
Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang was the man of the moment.
Clad in an advocates’ robe complete with a wig, he handed Mr Odinga the oath of allegiance to the office of the president, edited to say the people’s president, instead of President of the Republic of Kenya at 2.48pm.
Standing on Mr Odinga’s left next to Senior Counsel James Orengo, the man who led the 22-man battery of lawyers that won the historic Supreme Court ruling that nullified the August 8 Presidential Election, Mr Kajwang’ placed the oath at the podium.
In place of the Nasa logo on the podium was a newly-painted coat of arms, one of the two vandalized by excited Nasa supporters at the Kenyatta Avenue roundabout in Nairobi.
On his right stood the man who has become the face of the resistance movement, the self-proclaimed National Resistance Movement General Miguna Miguna, in a navy blue suit, his height almost in tandem with the green King James International Bible Mr Odinga was lifting.
“I, Raila Amolo Odinga, in full realisation of the high calling I assume as the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Kenya,” Mr Odinga said to the wild cheers of the crowds, the problematic Public Address system notwithstanding.
“That I will obey, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution of Kenya, as by law established, and all other laws of the Republic; and that I will protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya. So help me God.”
Mr Odinga had been invited to the podium by the flamboyant Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho, who had been called to the task by Mr Orengo.
“Through the Constitution of Kenya, we recognise Raila Amolo Odinga as the president of Kenya. I invite 001 Governor Hassan Joho to welcome the president of Kenya to now take the oath,” Mr Orengo, the chief proponent of Nasa’s boycott of the October 26 repeat poll said.
Nasa supporters who had thronged the park as early as 6am were happy that their leader had mustered the guts to take the oath, probably the greatest sign of political defiance ever seen in modern Kenya, but the buoyancy was soon turned into frustration when Mr Odinga appeared alone.
On the day a majority of Nasa supporters were expecting the official start of a parallel government, Mr Musyoka, the Wiper leader, Mr Wetang’ula, the Ford Kenya chief and Musalia Mudavadi, the Amani National Congress head gave the event a wide berth.
The no-show sparked a blame game within the coalition with many expressing fear the event could have marked the beginning of the end of a marriage cobbled together last year to face President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.
“They abandoned Mr Odinga at the altar,” a senior member of ODM said.
“It is pure betrayal, the other principals wanted Mr Odinga to drop the swearing in and had instead pressurized jubilee to initiate dialogue but Odinga turned down the offer saying he cannot disappoint his supporters for the third time in a row,” said the source.
An angry Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo was unrepentant in her attacks on the three principals, who she described as cowards even as she praised the “courage” of Mombasa governor Hassan Joho.
“I have exhaled. 2022 will be the same. There will be no obligation kurudisha mkono (pay back),” she said in a tweet in which she indicated the events of Tuesday had set ODM free from the other partners.
She was referring to an earlier agreement in which Mr Odinga would run for one term and thereafter support Mr Musyoka for the presidency.
In his speech after the “swearing-in,” Mr Odinga put on a brave face, saying all was well within the coalition.
However, his attempts to explain Mr Musyoka’s absence was met with anger and frustration, as part of the crowd, which had started gathering there as early as 6am, walked out.
“Kalonzo is not here with us today but he will be sworn in at a later date. I can confirm that he is still in the Nasa family,” he told the crowd.
Apart from the three co-principals, other leaders of the affiliate parties of Nasa widely gave the event a wide berth, painting the picture of a purely ODM event.
Several elected Nasa leaders in a bid to boost the morale of their supporters streamed in at the park and assured them that the ceremony is still on and they should not tire in waiting.
Minority leader in the National Assembly John Mbadi, Homa Bay Women represent Gladys Wanga, Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe), Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay), Rosa Buyu (Kisumu Woman representative) are the some of the leaders that made it to Uhuru Park early to cheer up the crowd.
Another ODM official said the four leaders had agreed to meet at the Inter-Continental Hotel at 9am from where they would enter Uhuru Park for the ceremony, but Mr Wetang’ula switched off his phone and could not be reached by Mr Odinga’s people throughout the day.
NEVER SHOWED UP
Both Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka had kept on assuring Mr Odinga they were on the way, but they never showed up, forcing the former Prime Minister to meet the crowd an isolated man.
Senators George Khaniri, Ledama ole Kina and a host of ODM MPs attended the event.
Signs all was not well within the coalition might have been captured in the prayer preceding the oath.
The prayer said by Ms Ogla Karani, who is the ODM treasurer and was Mr Odinga’s deputy lead agent at Bomas of Kenya during the August 8 presidential election, stated that those “who have abandoned Mr Odinga” should be “abandoned by their own.”
NO WIPER MP
Another tell-tale sign that all was not well could be seen in the fact that none of the Wiper MPs appeared at the park.
In their joint statement last evening which sought to explain their absence, Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula made no mention of the oath, only insisting the union was well.
They said they had on Monday held a lengthy meeting, where they had revisited the controversial presidential election of August 8 as well as the boycotted election of 26 October, the reform agenda and electoral justice.
“The Nasa Summit remains strong and united. The Summit will meet within two days, to address the immense challenges facing this country,” they said in a terse statement.
Attempts to get Mr Odinga to respond to the statement were fruitless as his aides neither picked up our calls nor responded to text messages.
From the ceremony, Mr Odinga was driven to his home where he was reported to be happy that he had succeeded in offloading the 2017 election baggage. “He is at his home and quite happy that all is over. This is his happiest moment since August 2017,” said Suna East MP Junet Mohammed.
Sources close to the three principals, however, appeared to blame Mr Odinga for their no-show, saying the ODM leader had been unilateral in the decisions affecting the coalition including the “swearing-in.”
They said Mr Odinga did not involve his co-principals fully and had left them in darkness concerning the contents of the oath, who would administer it and the details of his speech.
“They were all to meet at a place in Karen where they were to fine-tune the details before moving to Uhuru Park, but it didn’t happen because there was a total communication breakdown,” said an aide to one of the principals.
The Daily Nation understands that Mr Wetang’ula came back into the country on Monday from a tour of the US and UK and went into a meeting with his co-principals.
“It has been clear that only one man has been planning everything and we have just been observers. There has been a lot of blackmail, people calling us traitors,” said an MP affiliated to Mr Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress.
As signs of no-show became apparent, Nasa CEO Norman Magaya began calling each of the principals telling each the other was on the way, unaware that all were seated in one place preparing a joint statement.
Additional reporting by Samwel Owino