ODM leader Raila Odinga on Friday opened up on his 2022 plans exuding the confidence he will ‘scale Mt Kenya’ to get the numbers he needs for a decisive win.
This was even as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies said they’d endear the former Prime Minister to the vote-rich region, and undo inroads by DP William Ruto.
Raila did not hide his intentions to undo Ruto’s growing influence in the President’s backyard – as recently exhibited in his UDA win in the Kiambaa MP by-election.
The ODM leader, speaking in Dholuo, rallied his supporters, largely the youth, to prepare for the vote by acquiring IDs for use in the imminent voter registration.
At the funeral service of David Ajwang Nyakwamba, the father of Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang’ and Senator Moses Kajwang’ in Homa Bay, Raila did not hide his intention to face off with DP Ruto in the President Kenyatta succession race.
“We want our people to be united. Let us get ready. Let the youth of voting age apply for IDs and register as voters in preparedness for the poll,” Raila said.
Mt Kenya politics dominated, with Raila alluding to his 2022 prospects being a product of his handshake with the President, who has declared his support for the former PM.
“Let us also strengthen our party in preparation for the fight ahead of us,” the ODM leader added.
“I have projected what is lying ahead of us and I have seen a way we will use to pass through. Some people said we won’t scale the mountain but I have seen how we will climb it,” Raila said on his forays in Mt Kenya.
For a while, the ODM leader has kept Kenyans guessing with his confounding signals on his 2022 plans.
His activities have been adjudged as betraying his laid-back approach to the poll.
And in what may add steam to his bid to win the president’s backyard to back his bid, leaders pledged to help him in the campaign.
The leaders who attended the burial held that the former Prime Minister would be easy to market “for standing with Uhuru.”
They asked the region not to be blinded by any narratives saying it was Raila who “has stood with the President after DP Ruto chose to undermine him”.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni and Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi on Friday said they will undo the forays by the deputy president in the region.
The politicos said selling the DP was the most difficult to sell after the unfortunate events that followed the 2007 general election but they succeeded.
“Let’s be honest. Selling Ruto was the most difficult thing after the 2007 killings but we managed. To sell Raila, it would much easier. The road ahead is already paved. Those who can’t see, let them open their eyes,” Kioni said.
The lawmaker said they would conduct a three-month concerted campaign to chip away the DP’s support in the region. “We will undo his forays in three months,” Kioni said.
In what may be linked to his sentiments, the government’s move to ease Covid-19 restrictions has been linked to soothing the anger ignited by the containment measures.
The state, starting this week, allowed public service vehicles to carry full capacity and is expected to further ease restrictions by the end of next week.
Mt Kenya has been grumbling over the restrictions, a situation that saw those campaigning there dangle the carrot of being the saviour of the struggling businesses.
Kioni said their backing of Raila arises from the fact that the country has always had peace whenever the Luo and Kikuyu ethnic communities pull together.
“As we head to 2022, let us appreciate that this country has always been better whenever Kikuyus and Luos have come together. Right from 1963 to 1992 when we managed to repeal section 2A, in the 1997 IPPG and in 2002 when Raila said Kibaki Tosha,” Kioni said.
“We also saw the same when we formed the grand coalition government in 2007 which later birthed the 2010 Constitution and most recently during the 2018 handshake.”
The leaders held that they “are not stupid” to be told to hate Uhuru and Raila who made peace after the 2017 contest and paved the way for a peaceful environment to conduct business.
Governor Muriithi, for his part, said the region would first consider the old political debts before settling “that which is owed to Ruto from the 2017 vote”.
“I said it in Gatanga the other day that okay; probably we are being told we have a debt. I cannot say we have no debt. We have accepted that.
“The only question is: if you have a debt dating back to the 1960s and 2002, why not be allowed to pay the older ones first?” he said.
He shared Kioni’s sentiments that the country always records signifcant progress when Kikuyus and Luos work together or pull on one side politically.
“It is true. In Kenya, every time we get together, the country is able to move properly. You can go to history to confirm that. My plea to Kenyan leaders is that let us work together,” Muriithi said.
Raila has scaled up his forays into Mt Kenya and has been holding focused group discussions with business leaders and politicians.
Although he has yet to declare publicly his 2022 interests, the ODM leader has received the backing of President Kenyatta, giving him a head start in the region.
Raila leader is set to be hosted by the region’s leaders in Nyeri on August 28 in a follow-up meeting of the delegation from Mt Kenya that visited Raila in Bondo last November.
Suba South MP John Mbadi said they are confident that Raila will be sworn in as president after next year’s general election.
He took a swipe at the DP’s approach to politics, adding that he should be called out for sending investors to a neighbouring country.
“Since I was born and in my journey in politics, I have never seen a deputy president taking investors to a neighbouring country,” Mbadi said.
The National Assembly Minority leader said the country must get rid of politics of tokenism, adding that Kenyans are hardworking and are only denied opportunities by rampant corruption.
Mt Kenya political activist Maina Kamau said: “We have given Raila shoes to scale the mountain. We are hopeful we’ll get where we intended to go.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo said it is Raila who stood with leaders from the Mt Kenya region when they were suffering repression at the hands of the Kanu administration.
“Raila is going to shake the mountain this time round. Ruto will only come to terms with the reality when the votes would be counted,” Orengo said.
SOURCE: MOSES ODHIAMBO… THE STAR