Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju has slowly evolved to be a force to reckon with, wielding influence both in Jubilee and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) where he is a member of Raila Odinga’s Advisory Council.
According to Nation, Tuju is a key advisor to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and is integral in coordinating development projects in the Nyanza region.
Tuju is also reportedly a strategist in the 2022 succession race and has been accused on several occasions by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies of sabotaging his bid.
Speaking in Rarieda recently, Siaya Senator James Orengo confirmed that “As it stands today, Tuju is a very critical player in the governance of this country…If you attack Tuju, you attack one of us", leaving no doubt of his growing influence.
The CS without portfolio recently made it clear that Jubilee does not have any pact with DP Ruto and he is not the automatic candidate for the Jubilee party in 2022, attracting a backlash from Ruto’s point-men.
Being at Odinga’s corner has also seen him emerge as one of the fiercest defenders of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former premier.
His bold nature has seen him clash with team Tangatanga allied to DP Ruto and who appear to be preoccupied with 2022 succession at the expense of peace and development.
He sees nothing wrong with his close working relationship with the opposition which has caused jitters in Jubilee.
“Inclusion does not mean the exclusion of some people. There is enough space for all of us in this country. And anybody trying to say that because there is the inclusion of Luos, Kalenjins are going to be marginalised is fear-mongering. It is our collective responsibility to fix the problem we have caused,” Tuju stated.
Despite his growing influence that has attracted enemies in equal measure, Tuju maintains that he is not keen on any political seat just yet.
“People, especially people of the Nyanza region, think that if I am seen to be working with Odinga, then it means I am interested in a certain political office. The truth of the matter is that I am not.
"I have no interest whatsoever, of becoming the governor of Siaya for example, or MP for Rarieda. I have stated it before and I state it again. From the time I left active politics, I went back to private endeavours which kind of confine me to Nairobi," Tuju clarified to Nation.
The former Rarieda MP went against the ODM wave both in 2013 and 2017, backing President Uhuru Kenyatta in a region where Raila commands massive support, almost to the last man.
This was not the first time that the CS without a portfolio was swimming against the tide. In 2007, he supported President Kibaki in a hotly contested election that was preceded by protestors conducting a mock-burial for Tuju, complete with a casket.