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Inside Uhuru’s grand plan to reclaim full support in Mt Kenya

By Hillary Mageka
Monday, January 25th, 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM leader Raila Odinga when they launched the collection of signatures towards the process of constitution change through BBI last year in November at KICC. Photo/PSCU
In summary

Efforts to rally Mt Kenya region behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) have gathered momentum with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga rallying the restless region to support him and President Uhuru Kenyatta in endorsing the proposed law review. 

In what is seen as Raila’s biggest gamble for the vote-rich region and a charm offensive to neutralise the growing influence of Deputy President  William Ruto and the anti-BBI wave in the region, the former Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader will be interviewed in the vernacular Kameme TV breakfast show today to vouch for the project that is likely to culminate in radical constitutional reforms.

The move comes barely days after Uhuru and Amani National Congress (ANC) boss Musalia Mudavadi addressed the same region, through local radio stations, in a spirited and coordinated fight-back against the Ruto war on the BBI by the Handshake brigade. 

Sources intimated to the People Daily that Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is lined up for a similar interview at the station.

“Just like the President, Raila will tomorrow (Monday) be making an appeal to the people of Mt Kenya to back the constitutional changes through BBI that will usher in transformative growth for all communities, including Central Kenya,” Raila’s aide told People Daily on Sunday

Besides the interviews, high-profile sources said the President is set to meet Mt Kenya leaders at the Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri on Saturday, during which the matter is expected to be among the subjects of discussion.

The efforts follow the controversial warning by Senate Majority Whip and Muranga Senator Irungu Kang’ata in a letter to the President that the initiative was unpopular in the populous region.

“Jakom is going to the station to explain the benefits of the BBI to the people of Mt Kenya who are critical for its passage.

The region is a fertile hunting ground for votes ahead of the 2022 polls. Raila’s ODM base is intact. He must seek support in other regions.

You cannot win the presidency without the support of Mt Kenya,” said National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

“He is going to tell the people of Mlima not to allow to be lied to and divided along the hustlers and dynasty narratives,” the aide added, saying changing the constitution will foster inclusivity and equity among Kenyans.

In a notice notifying the public of his appearance this morning, Kameme TV, the sister station of People Daily, said Raila will tackle among other issues BBI and politics.

Contacted by People Daily yesterday, Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, one of the most visible proponents of the BBI project, confirmed that the Sagana meeting would take place this week but declined to state the agenda.

“It is true we have been invited but we will be told the agenda once we arrive there. At the moment, I cannot tell you what the agenda will be,” said Kamanda.

On his part, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, who has been the face of the breakaway group of Kieleweke, lamented that it was sad that Mt Kenya has now become the epicentre of the divisive 2022 politics when the elections are still far off.

“It is also sad that it is our own politicians who are being used to prosecute this conflict within the region, and between the region and other regions.

It takes away from what the President is working to achieve as regards uniting the country,” Wambugu noted.

Ruto and his brigade have hit the ground preaching against the BBI saying it was a waste of public funds and aimed to create jobs for a few individuals.

The Constitutional of Kenya Amendment Bill 2010 that captures the BBI has proposed expansion of the National Executive to create the position of prime minister with two deputies with the aim of ensuring inclusion in governance.

But speaking in Nairobi yesterday Ruto’s allies dismissed the Raila campaign as a waste of time.

“Even if you use vernacular radios in Mt Kenya region you will not win the hearts of the people. We have decided to back Ruto and we are not changing,” said Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.

“Our competitors are trying to use all means to cause confusion in central Kenya.

We want to tell them that our train has left the station with central Kenya on board,” added Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkommen.

Speaking on Kameme FM - a leading Kikuyu radio station - on Wednesday last week, Mudavadi said BBI proposals’ push for a one man, one vote, one shilling formula, which the President has been advocating for, which means more constituencies.

“You are the people who were saying one man, one vote, one shilling. This was well captured and you have more constituencies.

If you do not want the new constituencies, give them to us in Western,” Mudavadi stated.

Mudavadi spoke just two days after the President took to Kikuyu broadcasting radio stations on Monday to ask his Mt Kenya backyard to rally behind the BBI and disregard naysayers for their own growth.

He said he is pushing the BBI for the benefit of all Kenyans, including central Kenya.

“I will use BBI to restore sanity across the country, these people are just politicking but they don’t have facts,” he said.

The President said the BBI has no association with the 2022 State House succession politics and called on politicians critical of the drive to stop misleading Kenyans.

This week, the battle for the Mt Kenya political soul between the President and his deputy is also going a notch higher this week as allies of both camps have lined up different political activities.

The President’s allies plan a leaders’ meeting at Sagana State Lodge to strategise on how to drum up support for the national cohesion project.

Muranga County on Saturday played host to a section of MCAs drawn from Murang’a, Kiambu, Embu, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties meeting the Deputy President.

A similar event with MCAs from Nakuru, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Meru, Isiolo and Tharaka Nithi has been lined up in Nyahururu next weekend.

“We feel Ruto is the appropriate candidate for this position and he is the people’s favourite,” Kiambu Town MCA Anthony Mwaniki told journalists at Thika Greens hotel.

“Being at the lowest level of the political leadership, we are able to interact with more people and get to hear their opinion. We are the people on the ground and what we say should not be ignored or taken lightly” Mwaniki added.

Patrick Njiru from Embu said they will not waiver in their support for the DP exuding confidence that he will become the fifth president.

“We are here to show solidarity as a block and we are going to work together as a team and ensure we deliver a win for Ruto,” Njiru stated claiming Mt Kenya is for Ruto to lose ahead of the election.