Raila: I risked my political career to save Mau Forest
Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga yesterday returned to Narok County in the scramble for the 400,000 Maasai votes.
Corruption in collection of revenue in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Mau Forest restoration politics and supremacy battles between candidates vying for various seats under the coalition dominated Raila’s two rallies in Narok West and East constituencies.
Speaking during the manifesto launch for Tipapa Kirokorr, Alias Joho, he spoke about the Mau Forest restoration journey that started when he was the Prime Minister between 2008 and 2013.
After the Aitong rally, Raila flew to another manifesto launch for Kipas Lengues who is eyeing the Narok East parliamentary seat.
“I agitated for the restoration of the Mau forest. I told those who opposed the plan that I was ready to go and sell mandazi in Kibera (if the fight cost him politically),” he said.
Leaders who accompanied Raila, among them Ledama ole Kina (Narok Senator), Junet Mohamed (Sunai East MP), Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman Rep), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja MP) and Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok governor candidate) lauded the former Prime Minister for supporting the conservation of the Mau Forest despite the implication on his political career.
“During the debate on the Mau Taskforce Report in Parliament, some people warned you that you would pay a heavy political price,” said Ole Kenta who vowed that if elected governor, no one would be allowed to resettle in the forest.
“Baba paid the political price in restoration of the Mau, but I heard Ruto while on a tour of Narok recently saying the Mau Forest issue is over. How can it be over while the people evicted are gatekeepers to the forest lying in wait in IDP camps?” Junet asked.
Raila also waded into the Masai Mara issue after leaders claimed the county government was planning to grab part of it by extending a management contract to the Mara Conservancy for another five years.
Last month, leaders led by Kenta forced the County Assembly to reverse a plan to renew a contract between the county government and the Mara Conservancy to collect revenue from the Mara Triangle – a section of the reserve in the western side.
Following public uproar, the County Assembly withdrew a notice of motion on the renewal of the contract.
The contract seeks to extend an ongoing 25-year lease for revenue collection and management of the Mara Triangle for another five years.
“Those who are eyeing the Mara, just tell them to forget as this is a public resource that should benefit the residents of this county and not a few corrupt leaders,” said Raila.
On supremacy battles between candidates of different parties under the Azimio coalition, Raila said: “Azimio is like a Maasai manyatta, where there is the first wife, the second wife third wife. I am the sole candidate for the presidency but I will leave the rest for you to elect the leaders you want from the parties under our umbrella. I will not interfere.”
Supremacy battles between Senate candidates Ole Kina and Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchella played out during the rallies.
The Woman Rep seat contest between Jane Nampaso of Jubilee and Malaso Koini of Kanu also took the centre stage.
Raila will from tomorrow retreat to his Nyanza backyard to rally support for his State House bid.
According to an itinerary released by his campaign yesterday, the Azimio candidate will be in Migori tomorrow, Nyamira on Friday and in Siaya and Homa Bay at the weekend.
Raila’s running mate Martha Karua and Raila’s wife, Ida, will be in Homa Bay today and tour Kisii tomorrow.
Karua and Ida will open a 200-bed capacity Mother and Child hospital and Doctors Plaza built by the county government and hold a women political rally at the Gusii Stadium.
Governor James Ongwae said the duo and local women leaders will drum up support for Raila at the stadium.
“We are privileged to host Ida and Karua. I urge women to turn up in large numbers at the stadium,” Ongwae said yesterday.