The most significant thing about the defection yesterday of Regional Co-operation Cabinet Minister John Koech is that he does not speak DhoLuo and neither does he hail from the Luo community.
The reason why this is important is because it could finally jolt President Mwai Kibaki awake to the very real danger of suffering a landslide defeat in the forthcoming general elections to a man whom many of his aides (still living in the 60s had declared unelectable). There was a time that even Kumekucha himself had many doubts as to how viable a Raila candidature for the presidency would be. The supposedly rabidly tribal Kenyan electorate has surprised as all.
Many of the same Kibaki aides have clung to the view that ODM yawa is a political party that has support only from Luo Nyanza. John Koech’s sudden and decisive move yesterday tells a different story and confirms a lot of what we have been saying here in advice in recent days to the president’s campaign team.
It has not helped matters that President Kibaki’s campaign has stubbornly stuck to a course that is clearly doomed to failure. The idea has been to spread fear in the electorate over the fact that a Raila Odinga presidency is too unpredictable to call and could easily plunge the nation into chaos and stone-throwing. That is a line the electorate have refused to buy and is increasingly sounding more and more ridiculous by the day.
The move also confirms what our information fro the ground has been telling us a for some time now—that Rift Valley is ODM country—and so are all the provinces save Central and Eastern. Never mind that Moi himself is being greeted with chants of ODM wherever in kalenjin Rift Valley that he chooses to go. So much so that in recent days he seems to have abandoned his meet the people campaign tours. At a function to donate food stuffs to some orphanages in Nairobi on Wednesday, the old man looked more tired and exhausted than ever.
But back to the latest defection, Koech obviously has no love lost for Raila but what he has clearly done is read the signs on the ground and as a result has opted for the most convenient “vehicle” to get him back into parliament. That vehicle is ODM.
There are things that are usually discussed at cabinet level. In recent meetings Raila and ODm must have been discussed in great detail and the president’s re-election strategy unveiled. Those are the intimate and juicy secrets that Hon Charity Ngilu and John Koech have now carried to Orange House. Little wonder that the president was so upset over Ngilu’s defection that he uncharacteristically sacked her hours after she had attended the big ODM rally at Uhuru park. Kenyans who have observed the president’s management style know that he takes ages to act on anything. That has always been his style.