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just another average middle class family struggling to make ends meet on meager resources.

East Africa Spectre Limited, the family business flagship, was teetering on the verge of a precipice, thanks to political interference leading to bad business and crippling debts.

Raila Odinga’s house in Runda estate was a typical middle class house neighbouring that of self-exiled publisher Pius Nyamora.

But all that suddenly changed in 2001 when Raila shifted political alliances, ditched the opposition and teamed up with President Moi’s Kanu to form what was then known as Kanu-NDP merger.

Soon thereafter, he was appointed Minister of energy and turned a new leaf in his life. With his friend Mark Too, then one of the most powerful personalities around Moi’s state house, holding his hand, Raila was quickly introduced to the world of big business from which he has never looked back.

Indeed, looking back at the kind of fortune Raila managed to accumulate as well as the business links he established during the one year or so he was Energy minister, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that contrary to the conventional wisdom prevailing then, Raila’s rapprochement with Moi was a pure business decision. The man may have made calculated moves knowing only too well that without good money even the best politician might not go very far in achieving his or her dreams.

It is thus not surprising – nor is it by accident – that as Raila prepares himself to make his most serious bid for the presidency, he stands out as one of the richest politicians in the country with a personal fortune estimated to be over Kshs 4 billion besides reported investments in real estate in South Africa and Dubai.

Raila, a calculating schemer, could not have failed to notice the most common denominator between all the three politicians who rose to the presidency; money.

Jomo Kenyatta may not have had tones of money when he became president because he had the benefit of being associated with independence and nationalism. However, when he became president, he moved quickly to amass wealth which he used effectively to sustain himself in power.

His successor, Daniel arap Moi was already a very wealthy man-though discreetly so-when he became president in 1978. And throughout his presidency, Moi used money as his primary tool of political control.

When Kenneth Matiba challenged Moi in 1992 and came second in the presidential elections, it was clear that part of Matiba’s most formidable arsenal was an apparently inexhaustible war chest. Without the kind of money he had at his disposal, there is no doubt Matiba would not have come that close to kicking Moi out of state house.

Another serious challenger to Moi was Mwai Kibaki who came second in the 1997 presidential race. Again Kibaki, like Matiba before him, was not only wealthy in his own right but had a retinue of rich supporters around him who ensured that his campaign machinery was financially well oiled.

It is against this kind of a back ground that Raila must have made the conscious decision in 2001 to drop all pretensions, embrace Moi and make as much hay as he could while the sun shone for he knew well that money is a politician’s best friend, especially one who aspires for the presidency.
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