<Interviewing Raila Odinga!We are priviledged to bring to the readers, a telephone interview with Raila Odinga, the man who wants to be president:
APN: Mr Raila, you have told Kenyans that you are the right man for the presidency. Why do you think so?
Raila: I am the right man because I want Kenyans to have a change, to be led by younger generation who can deliver.
APN: Your father wanted to become Kenya’s leader. He never got it. You emerged and trying to fulfil what he did not achieve. Is it to ensure that you someone in the family gets it?
Raila: No, then you get it wrong. In fact I do not like the line APN takes when addressing ODM-K issues. I feel APN is negative towards ODM-K.
APN: Do you think ODM-K will elect you the flag bearer?
Raila: Actually I do not want to be president but prime minister. I want Kalonzo to become flag bearer. If we can change the constitution and open a way for primiership I will be happy with that.
APN: People say you cannot be trusted. You have changed parties as you change clothes. You ran away from Ford-K, your father’s own political machine, Can you tell us why?
Raila: When my father died after building the party, others wanted to gain from his sweat. They refused to listen to me. I wanted to be chairman of the party but they refused. They said I was young. I decded to leave with my Luo supporters. Then others I did not expect followed also. That is when I decided to form NDP.
APN: Then you were not satisfied in your own party?
Raila: Yes I was not. I discovered that it would not take over power. So I started planning. I knew Moi was getting Old. He promised me that I was to take over Kanu if I dismantled my party. When I did join Kanu, he organised so that I took over as Secretary General. Moi knew my plan. I wanted to be the first Luo to rule the country. He told me he would help me get to the top. I was happy. In fact I became so sure when he started allowing me to travel presidential with him.
APN: But then hat happned between you and Moi? You did not become his choice in the end. When they came to Kassarani, it was Uhuru Kenyatta that was a preferred man to take over Kanu.
Raila: Yes you are right. I never forgave Moi after that. I decided it was time to move on and find something else to do. Our knowledge was that Kibaki was a weak man. So I started to strategise to join him. But I did not want to do so directly. I needed a party to use as a stepping stone. LDP was there ready for me.
APN: Then what happened?
Raila: I realised many others were willing to abandon Moi and Kanu. I told my wife how happy I was that even Kalonzo was willing to abandon Moi together with Saitoti. That would strengthen me in search of firm leadership in he new party. But I did not want to become the leader of LDP. It was important not to let people know what was happening. Moi got desperate. He send his personal assistant to offer me 100 million, if only I could help Kanu to remain in power. I agreed to help But behind the scenes, we were very active to make Kibaki feel he was the man to take over. It was important to do that because we were thinking og the Kikuyus who were now thirsty after power.
APN: Tell us what transpired after you made Kibaki accept to be the uniting figure.
Raila: He was sick. We thought we were using him. We thought the chance to take over from him was there. He quickly short-changed all of us and took firm control. I have never been bitter like that day. I had it in my hands and it was taken away from from me. I was very sure that within one year, I would become prime minister. It did not happen. I was nery sad not to deliver to the Luo people what I had promised them.
APN: What had you promised them?
Raila: I had promised them that it was our time and that we were getting it this time. It really made me feel bad. It even strained my marraige at the time. I used to joke with my wife that she would soon be the First Lady. I never knew she took it seriously.
APN: Does she expect you to be the next president of Kenya after the next general elections?
Raila: I do not want to answer that! Have you finished your questions? I have to go.
APN: No sir, We still have a few questions. We would like to know if you think you will defeat Kibaki?
Raila: I do not like your line of questioning. Are you recording the interview?
APN: Yes sir. We have recorded it for record purposes only.
Raila: Will I get a copy of it?
APN: Yes. We will make a copy for you. Just allow us to ask two more questions.
Raila: OK go ahead.
APN: There are speculations that if you take over power in Kenya, you will make Kisumu the capital of Kenya. There are also rumours that you will emphasise in the use of Luo language in State House. Is this wrong sir?
Raila: I want to make it clear. Every leader chooses the people he trusts. It is definite that I will have trusted people around me. It does not matter what tribe they come from. But it is important for me to have those I know very well and then the choice can easily fall to those I know from children-hood. On the question of the capital being moved to Kisumu. I want to tell you that I have never thought of doing that. It does not mean that I cannot operate from Kisumu just like Jomo Kenyatta operated from Gatundu. Moi operated from his home Kabarak. Both of them were being paid homage ther by diplomats and dignitaries. What is wrong doing that to promote business in Kisumu? In fact many dignitaries I have met love eating fish and there is plenty in Kisums.
APN: Who would you have as minister of justice if you were to become president?
Raila: Kibaki has Karua after Kiraitu. Kajwang is a good fellow. Or will that be tribal? Anyway, that is not something I go around thinking about. But for sure, I would abolish provincial administration. And give more power to county councils. I would have Mudavadi as my running mate to woe the Luhyias and if Uhuru backs my candidacy, I will open a door for him in the cabinet. I know you want to hear about Ruto. I will make him a minister of state in my office in charge of National Development. That will ensure Rift Valley is developed.
<Former President Daniel Moi with President Mwai Kibaki.
APN: Will you arrest Kibaki and Moi for the accusations against them on past corruption if you were chosen president?
Raila: I do not wish to answer this question, but let me give you a short comment. Justice must be done, and if anyone has abused his authority, I will not interfere if charges against them are instituted.
APN: Thank you sir for granting us this telephone interview. We wish you well in your strategies ahead of the elections.
Raila: Thank you.
This was a very interesting interview interupted by reservations from the Raila, who was not sure whether or not he should give us the interview.
It has taken us 2 months to get him to talk to us.
By Korir, African Press International – API/ African Press in Norway, APN email@example.com tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525