Amani National Congress boss Musalia Mudavadi is like the proverbial cook who walked into the neighbour’s kitchen with spices and helped prepare a sumptuous meal.
Now his supporters want a favourable share of the meal.
“The very fact that Nasa is his brainchild means he starts off on the negotiation table ahead of the pack,” says Angela Ambitho, political analyst and Infotrack Pollster CEO.
As they troop to Nairobi’s Uhuru Park or monitor Nasa’s proceedings on Thursday, Mudavadi’s supporters will be hoping that the man, who re-energised the opposition and even gave it the name Nasa, would be rewarded accordingly.
Mudavadi’s community is the second largest in Kenya after President Kenyatta’s.
Citing the “retrogressive” tribal voting pattern, Mr Mudavadi’s backers hope their man will be given a chance to go head-to-head with Mr Kenyatta.
And it would appear most of the Luhya Nation, including those in Jubilee, are equally anxious about the naming of Mudavadi as flagbearer.
Former Forestry minister Noah Wekesa singles him out as the most trusted and straightforward of the Nasa hopefuls.
“Though I belong to Jubilee and it is not in my interest to advise Nasa, I am certain the opposition cannot go wrong with Mudavadi. He is relatively cleaner than his competitors and stands out on account of integrity,” Dr Wekesa says.
Mudavadi’s deputy at ANC, Kipruto arap Kirwa, points to the one time vice-president’s “rare capacity for accommodation of other players”, as an advantage.
“Unlike the others, Mudavadi does not scare away the extreme elements in rival camps,” Mr Kirwa says.
Ambitho adds that Mr Mudavadi is a humble team player.
EATING HUMBLE PIE
“By eating a humble pie after falling out with his opposition colleagues, Mr Mudavadi has demonstrated leadership and maturity,” she says.
“He has projected himself as a member of the team willing to compromise. And we have not seen him, like other aspirants, angling hard to be given the ticket or publicly asking others to step aside for him.”
It is perhaps this approach that led Mr Mudavadi into giving a strong showing as a compromise and the most “acceptable” candidate in 2013.
The study by Infotrack indicated that he was the next best thing for most voters if their preferred presidential candidate was not on the ballot.
This was the case for supporters of Mr Kenyatta, Mr Odinga, Mr Peter Kenneth and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua.
UHURU’S RUNNING MATE
Crediting Mr Mudavadi for strengthening the opposition forces and repainting them with fresh colours, Mr Kirwa says the ANC leader has lived up to his attributes.
But it is his honest dealings that some enemies and friends have exploited, including the agreement saga with Uhuru and Ruto, who promised to make him president in 2013 only to dishonour the deal.
Separately, this political gentleman is not particularly power-hungry. He turned down a nomination slot offer to Parliament in 2002 after he lost his Sabatia seat, when he ran as Mr Kenyatta’s running mate.
These gestures may be viewed differently – as a weakness or point of strength – depending on the immediacy of the intended goal.