Raila Odinga’s Successor: Who Will Be The Next Luo Kingpin?

Recently, a viral tweet was the subject of much debate across social media, especially Twitter. The gist of the tweet was: Which politician is most likely to succeed Raila Odinga as the next Luo Kingpin?

The tweet voiced a hot question that has been lingering in Kenyans’ minds, although most people have been unwilling to speak about it openly.

Raila, who is currently 78 years old, has on several occasions declared in public that he will quit politics when he wants, not because of his advanced age.

However, regardless of whether he retires tomorrow or in the next five years, the truth of the matter is that he will eventually retire. So, on whose hands will the political enigma pass the baton?

WoK looks at the names of politicians who are most likely to succeed Baba as Luo Nyanza kingpins:

Opiyo Wandayi

According to Siaya senator Oburu Odinga, who is Raila’s elder brother and spokesperson of the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga family, Opiyo Wandayi is the next Luo Nyanza kingpin.

Oburu endorsed him earlier this year by saying “Leaders grow like mushrooms. That is how Opiyo is growing and nothing will block him from top leadership because we have now left it for him.”

He added that Wandayi is a political mastermind who is well-versed in Raila’s body language and has always acted with Raila’s interests in mind.

“Wandayi knows what Raila is thinking about and people have seen his political prowess,” he said.  

According to Daily Nation, Luo elders met after Oburu’s remarks to discuss the community’s succession politics and endorsed Wandayi, who is the current legislator for Unguja constituency.

He is also at the helm of Azimio’s bipartisan talks with Kenya Kwanza alongside Kalonzo Musyoka.

Babu Owino

Paul Ongili, alias Babu Owino, is arguably the most famous legislator in Kenya today. When his name hits the headlines – a popular occurrence – it is usually because of his bold utterances.

He has been known for publicly calling out both President Ruto and former president Uhuru Kenyatta, often with smoking adjectives.

The Embakasi legislator is credited for coining the slogans ‘tibim’ and ‘tialala’, which have become synonymous with ODM’s campaigns.

During the recent antigovernment demonstrations by Azimio, his utterances mobilized residents of Kiambu and other parts of Mt. Kenya for demonstrations, an achievement that even Raila could not boast.

Albeit young, Babu Owino, who is a Raila die-hard, is ambitious and has already set his eyes on the presidential prize.

Winne Odinga

According to Dr Ndonye, a senior lecturer at the School of Music and Media at Kabarak University, Winnie Odinga is at the heart of her father’s succession as the next Luo Nyanza kingpin.

Her election into the East African Legislative Assembly in 2022 placed her at the forefront of taking over the family’s leadership mantle from Raila.

In his article published in the Standard, Ndoye compared Winnie Odinga to what Mutula Kilonzo Junior was to Mutula Kilonzo senior. “This Winnie, if she can be committed to her father like that, embracing him in high and low times, is a leader,” he said.

Critics have however argued that she is unripe for the huge responsibility and that her arrogance and selfish protectiveness of her father might work against her.

Evans Kidero

According to Nyachieo Bogonko, a Kisii-based political analyst, Kidero is a key candidate to replace Baba as the next Luo Kingpin.

The former Nairobi governor has reportedly been making inroads into Luo localities and is said to have massively funded Raila during the 2017 elections.

“When I try to assess Luo Nyanza politics, I can easily settle on Kidero as Raila’s replacement given his financial prowess. He has also been in management for several years and that counts when you want to control a population,” said Nyachieo.

He added that Kidero has sufficient resources to control powerful figures in the political sphere.

However, he is likely to face massive resistance due to his recent association with Raila’s arch-rival, President William Ruto.

Other successors

Aside from the four names above, The Daily Nation suggested a list of other possible successors including former CS Raphael Tuju and governors Gladys Wanga and Ochilo Ayacko.

The list also included Eliud Owalo and Raymond Omollo, both of whom occupy top positions in Ruto’s government. They are said to have sufficient resources to propel them to the top.

However, the list disregarded veterans like James Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o, saying they are in Raila’s age bracket and will likely retire with him.