Inside Politics

Uhuru’s Sagana rally to shape Mt Kenya politics

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022 04:44 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his remarks during a meeting with over 600 youth leaders from across Central Kenya and neighbouring counties at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri county. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to host thousands of people from his Mt Kenya backyard tomorrow as part of an aggressive campaign to mobilise his supporters against his principal assistant William Ruto’s presidential ambitions.

The meeting, dubbed “Sagana Three”, is expected to bring together Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, former and serving governors, MPs, Ward Reps, aspirants, religious leaders, cultural elders, professionals, women and youth representatives from the 10 counties that form Mt Kenya region to “take a common stand” on the August 9, 2022 vote.

Organisers of the meeting say they expect to host at least 20,000 representatives from Mt Kenya region tomorrow.

“The meeting will deal with issues of grassroots mobilisation and take a common stand on the August 9 polls in favour of Raila Odinga’s candidature. The President is expected to give the direction we should approach the election,” a highly placed source who did not want to pre-empt the President, said.

Sources intimated that the common  ground that would be taken in the meeting would be reflected at the Jubilee Party National Delegates Conference (NDC) on Friday. Sources said another, similar meeting involving leaders and opinion shapers from Mt Kenya East ­— Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties — had been planned for today at Chuka University in Tharaka Nithi “before converging with their Central Kenya counterparts at Sagana”. 

It is expected that, besides lobbying his backyard to take a common stand on Raila in the August poll, Uhuru could explain the reasons he fell out with his deputy, whom he accuses of defiance and absconding his duties as a principal assistant, as well as explain how the region would benefit from an Azimio la Umoja government .

Give assurances

Gatanga MP Ngugi Nduati, one of the leaders backing Uhuru and Raila, said they were hoping the President would “finally disclose” the reasons for the acrimonious breakup with Ruto and give assurances on how the local people would benefit under Azimio, the vehicle that the former premier will use to compete against the DP .

“We will be waiting to hear him tell us what it is that his deputy did to him, leading to the fall out... People still do not know what caused the fall out. We will also be waiting to hear him tell us what political direction the region will take and how that will happen. He will also be explaining to us why he feels that we are safe under Azimio La Umoja and what the region’s stake is in Azimio in terms of how the coalition agreement will be drawn and implemented,” Ngugi told People Daily yesterday.

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda said expectations on the meeting are high and all the preparations have been finalised.

“We expect the political dynamics to take a different course after the meeting. Though I can’t pre-empt him, I am sure the meeting will sway voters from the greater Central Kenya,” Kamanda said.

Sources also indicated that Uhuru is expected to use the platform to enumerate the projects that his government initiated in Mt Kenya region and their sustainability under Raila.

Besides, sources said the President could also narrate to the gathering how his deputy allegedly used his position to frustrate development projects earmarked for the region, and how he used the 2017 Jubilee nominations to “plant candidates of his choice” in the General Election.

Political scientist Oscar Otele, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says Uhuru’s Sagana meeting is likely to change the country’s political course, depending on how he puts across his message.

“This is the defining moment that all Kenyans have been waiting for. Should he persuade the people of Mt Kenya to follow his stance, then the current campaigns will change. But it is a do-or-die tussle for the President who is out to control his legacy and succession,” Dr Otele says.

Linford Mutembei — chairman of Mount Kenya Youth Caucus that has been supportive of the President and Raila, and who is among those invited to both the Chuka and Sagana meetings — said the attendees will “keenly listen and follow what Uhuru will say.”

“We are going there so that he can give us the political direction because he is and will still remain our leader. He has always shown that he has good intentions for the community and the country at large, unlike the others who appear keen to auction the community to the enemy,” he said.

This will be the second meeting the Head of State will be holding in Sagana within a year and two months to give the region political direction, having held a similar one in January last year when he successfully whipped all the county assemblies in the region in favour of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

During last year’s Sagana meeting, where he said he owes the DP no political debt, Uhuru sought to influence the region against the DP. He equated Ruto to a deceitful politician targeting a bride even though another man has already negotiated the bride price and paid. The bride, Uhuru said, were the gains of BBI, which included more resources to counties.

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