From traitor to Raila’s fixer: Dramatic change in Tuju’s fortunes

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 16:36 |
Jubilee party secretary general Raphael Tuju.

By Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Previously considered a traitor in his Nyanza backyard, which is Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s stronghold, Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju is nowadays received in Kisumu with a bouquet of flowers.

Tuju’s constant spats with Deputy President William Ruto, who is seen as Raila’s possible opponent in the 2022 presidential race, continues to excite the Orange party base.

Ruto’s allies have been pushing for Tuju’s removal from the party but the defiant Cabinet Secretary without portfolio has called their bluff.

He has even been accused of turning himself into Raila’s hatchet man with Ruto once describing him as the “Opposition strategist” in Jubilee.

Tuju’s dramatic change of political fortunes is largely attributable to the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila that ended the 2018 post-election hostilities.

Ruto’s surrogates accuse Tuju of being used by Raila to destroy the governing party and frustrate the DP’s presidential ambitions.

“Tuju is the ODM secretary general in Jubilee. ODM and Raila are pretty happy with Tuju’s political activities. The ODM secretary general is mute because Tuju is voicing what he should be saying,” said Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a staunch supporter of the Deputy President.

“We know Tuju is seeking some elective seat in his Siaya backyard and is using our platform to endear himself to his people and Raila. He has become very popular at home. He has assigned himself the role of the Opposition because it is dead,” said Kositany, who is the Jubilee deputy secretary general.

There has been talk that Tuju is eyeing the Siaya governor’s seat in the next election, but he has denied the claims. But Tuju yesterday dismissed the accusations that he is serving Raila’s interests in Jubilee, saying he is a victim of ethnic profiling.

“The only reason they are making the allegations is because I am Luo. It is even interesting that some of them were founders of ODM. I lost my parliamentary seat in 2007 because I stuck with PNU against the ODM wave. I have never gone back there,” Tuju told People Daily in an interview.

Choice insults

He added: “If there is anyone who should be unhappy with ODM it should be me. I get pained when I remember the days when ODM supporters would pitch loud speakers outside my mother’s house and utter choice insults in vernacular. But times have changed,” he said.

The man who lost his Rarieda parliamentary seat due to his defiance of Raila, and had his house attacked during the last election, because of his political allegiance, lately receives a warm welcome in Nyanza and has even made several visits to the Opposition chief’s Bondo home.

When he suffered a road accident in February, influential ODM politicians trooped to the hospital. Sources who spoke to People Daily said Tuju is nowadays a frequent visitor at the ODM leader’s Nairobi home.

“Tuju is no longer the ostracised man who taxi drivers would spit at at the Kisumu International Airport. The Handshake has given him a lifeline. I am sure he now sleeps peacefully in his Rarieda home,” said an MP from Siaya county, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely about a former colleague in Parliament.

Currently, Tuju is on the receiving end of attacks by Ruto supporters who were angered by the secretary general’s decision to change the membership of Jubilee’s National Management Committee.

His accusers have consistently demanded his removal. On his now warm relationship with Raila, Tuju said it was all in the spirit of the Handshake and healing the country from the divisions caused by the 2017 election.

“There was a disputed election that led to parallel swearing ins. The country was on the edge but that changed after the two leaders shook hands. Who am I not to support the initiative?” he said.

Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange, a key supporter of President Uhuru, described Jubilee Tuju as a professional who was loyal to the party and its manifesto.

“Those people who are talking about removing Tuju from the party are against implementation of the party manifesto which includes unity and the fight against graft. They shout after being paid and they shouldn’t drag their pettiness into the party,” Koinange said.

Tanga Tanga lineup Political scientist Obuya Bagaka says that through his constant attacks on the DP, Tuju was “helping the Opposition to do its job without even paying for it”.

“Tuju is an asset for ODM. Even if he is not instructed, he is helping cast the DP as fighting his boss. The attacks are beneficial because he is exposing the intrigues in Jubilee for the Opposition,” said Bagaka.

Ruto allies have come with a line-up to replace Tuju, party chairman Nelson Duzya and deputy chairman David Murathe. They want the chairman replaced by Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and Kositany elevated to secretary general.

“I am running for the position of the chairman so that I can take full control of the running of the party. We have been very unhappy with how our party is being led,” Washiali told People Daily.

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