Raila commences journey to conquer the mountain
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
ODM leader Raila Odinga’s efforts to woo Mount Kenya voters intensified yesterday as he embarked on a whirlwind tour of the voter rich region.
The opposition leader first held a closed-door meeting with four governors from Central Kenya to discuss solutions to issues affecting the region, before embarking on a series of rallies that saw him address stop-over meetings accompanied by a section of elected local leaders.
Raila had camped in Nanyuki since Saturday where he engaged in a series of closely guarded activities, which culminated into a meeting with Governors Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), who is also the chairman of the Central Kenya Region Economic Bloc, Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and James Nyoro (Kiambu).
The ODM leader described his weekend tour of the region as fruitful, citing meetings with local leaders, youth representatives, student representatives and SME owners, among others, where he shared his plans for the region.
Raila said the meetings gave him an opportunity to discuss his vision for the region.
“I have been a guest in Mt Kenya for the last three days. We have had a wonderful time with the leadership and people of this region,” he said.
He added: “This is part of consultative meetings across the country with our people. It is dialogue so as to identify problems affecting different parts of the country and come up with requisite policies to address them.”
Ahead of the scheduled meetings, Raila disclosed that ODM was in discussion with political parties with roots in Mt Kenya region such as PNU, Jubilee, and several others with a view to forming a pre-election coalition.
The former premier used stopovers in Naromoru, Chaka, Karatina, Sagana, Makutano, Kenol and Kiambu to fight the deeply entrenched narrative that has for long been peddled that he is an enemy of the region, saying having supported retired President Mwai Kibaki in 2002 and his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga having stood firm in favour of the founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was a demonstration that he harbours no hatred for the region.
“Some people claimed Baba can’t climb Mt Kenya, and I said I will find a donkey to climb the mountain. I am used to climbing mountains.
When we were campaigning for Kibaki, he got involved in a very bad accident and was airlifted aboard. When he came back, we took him to Uhuru Park where he was sworn in while sitting on a wheelchair.
Thereafter, when we left Nairobi and passed through Githurai, Thika, and when the motorcade crossed River Chania, it was a phenomenon.
We snaked to Kenol, Sagana, Mathira, Mukurwe-ini all the way to Othaya and everywhere he passed you called me Mutongoria Njamba (hero),” Raila said during a stopover in Karatina.
He added: “When I said Kibaki tosha Nyayo (late retired President Daniel arap Moi) said Raila is finished politically because Luos can’t vote for a Kikuyu… but when he came to Nyanza and I told them that Kibaki is a son of Jaramogi because it was Jaramogi who fished him from Makerere University, brought him to Kanu and even bought him his first car, they voted for Kibaki and he defeated even James Orengo who was in the race and I am being told that Raila is unwanted in Mt Kenya, what wrong have I done? What have I stolen?”
The ODM leader was accompanied by MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni) who said leaders were ready to sell Raila in the region, Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Antony Oluoch (Mathare).
The visit came even as it emerged that Raila who has been ostracised by the central Kenya voters for the past 17 years following his fallout with Kibaki and after engaging in a bruising competition with President Uhuru Kenyatta in the last two elections, has the blessings of the Head of State in his bid to win the hearts of the voters ahead of next year’s General Election.
Raila was holed up at the affluent Maiyan Resort for the entire weekend, where he met a section of elected leaders and key opinion shapers from the region.
Today, Raila is expected to attend a luncheon organised by the Mt Kenya Foundation at Safari Park Hotel where tycoons and other influential figures from the region will converge to organise mobilisation of financial and political support in his favour.
Governors, particularly those serving their first term, are expected to play a key role in enabling the opposition supremo to raid the region that until March 9, 2019, appeared locked in favour of DP William Ruto, according to the 2013 Jubilee memorandum of understanding.
Mt Kenya tycoons
Sources privy to the arrangement intimated where the county chiefs will not cooperate, their deputies will be roped in.
“It is a strategy that will see Baba work with governors and other elected leaders to penetrate the region. Raila will be given platforms to sell his policies and solutions to issues affecting the people.
He has the green light from the President to do what he has started and it’s somehow clear that Uhuru has settled on him as his preferred candidate, although he does not want to be seen pushing him to the people. He wants Raila to do the first leg,” the source said.
Governor Kinyanjui, who recently hosted Raila in Nakuru during the launch of his Azimio La Umoja programme, appeared to confirm their group had settled on Raila as their preferred presidential candidate in the next General Election, saying the ODM leader almost won three elections without the support of Mt Kenya and with a little political support from the region, he would win.
“I want to say that we have been in competition with him several times and we only beat him by a very small margin, which is the reality. He only needs a small boost to win the race.
And for us (as Mt Kenya) we do not want to fight a losing battle, we want to be in the winning team.
We do not want to stay outside the government because we are not used to that, and the government will be on Raila ‘s side,” he said yesterday.