Raila, Ruto in city supremo contest as elections beckon

Thursday, January 20th, 2022 08:44 | By
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses Nairobi’s Eastleigh residents recently. PD/file

by Jeremiah Kiplang’at

The battle for supremacy in Nairobi  has heightened between Deputy President William Ruto and Orange party leader Raila Odinga, with each seeking to claim a stake in the capital city ahead of the August polls.
 In 2017, Nairobi had a total of 2,250,853 registered voters. Understandably, it was the top-most vote-rich county with Kiambu; coming second with 1,180,920 registered voters.

The city registered 152,920 new voters during the mass registration last October. The number is expected to rise during the ongoing final registration set to end on February 6.  

It is this huge basket of votes that has set the ball rolling for a massive fight between the two that will likely rope in President Uhuru Kenyatta, who might play a role on who carries the day in the city.    

Raila on Tuesday laid down the gauntlet with a daring claim to over two million votes in Nairobi in the coming elections. He plans to fight tooth and nail to inherit all the votes Uhuru got in the city in the last polls on top of what he got. 

Mighty wave
Ruto is, however, not taking the challenge for the supremacy in the city lying down. He has promised to match, if not outdo, the former prime minister in the city battle. 

For the last one week, the DP has traversed the city accompanied by a retinue of leaders, who echoed his bottom-up economic model to the residents.

He wrapped up his political tour of the city on Tuesday by tellingly taking his meetings, now rebranded Hustler Nation Assemblies, to Raila’s self-proclaimed  bedrooms in Kibra and Lang’ata constituencies; sending a message he would not shy away from taking the fight to his nemesis city backyard.

Raila, however, in an apparent reference to the flurry of DP rallies in the city in the last one week, asked his supporters on Tuesday to help him show his might in the city, warning of a mighty wave that will sweep Ruto out of the capital.

“We will beat them squarely. They have sensed defeat that is why you see them engaging in theatrics. In 2017, I got 900, 000 votes in Nairobi, Uhuru got over 700, 000. When you add them they come to 1.6 million votes. This time we want that to be over 2 million because I don’t want to just add 400, 000 or 500,000 votes, we should get more,” Raila said when he launched the Azimio voter registration drive at City Hall.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), records show that Raila got 828, 826 votes and Uhuru, 791, 291 in Nairobi in the disputed August 2017 presidential elections that was nullified by the Supreme Court.

He skipped the repeat in October that year due to unresolved electoral issues raised by the court but ended up in HAndshake with the President in March 2018 signaling an unlikely end to hostilities between the two political antagonists.

Since the Handshake, the two have closely worked together in running the government albeit unofficially, effectively shoving out the DP.  The Handshake has since mutated to a campaign for Raila to succeed Uhuru at the expense of Ruto and other political figures like Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, who had supported the latter in 2017 polls.

The President is unofficially at the centre of Raila’s campaign presently under the Azimio La Umoja movement. It is this arrangement that Raila hopes to exploit to gain Uhuru’s 2017 votes not only in Nairobi but also in Mt Kenya and across the country.  

Other than Uhuru’s expected influence in the race, the candidates are seeking to model their messages to meet the needs of city dwellers. Unemployment, slums upgrading, affordable housing, support for small, medium enterprises and improvement of the infrastructure are some of the critical issues that will play a role in who carries the day in the city. 
 Ruto, arrived in Lang’ata and Kibra, the area that was represented by Raila for four consecutive terms between 1992 to 2013, with a daring message aimed at diluting his opponent’s support in his backyard.

He chided the ODM leader for promising the poor Sh6,000 a month saying the culture of handouts were over promising instead billions of money through government-structured programmes targeting the youth and women.

“These are not the people to be given handouts. These are people to be given jobs. We will not discriminate against any job. Kazi ni Kazi. It is upon the government to put in place measures to ensure the growth of small businesses and we will do that,” he said in Lang’ata.

He also promised Sh50 billion to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises if elected President in August  This has been Ruto’s rallying call as he made forays across the city the last one week.

Ruto’s raids began last week Wednesday when he toured Kamukunji, Embakasi Central, North and West constituencies bearing the message on the bottom-up economics that has become the heart of his political meetings across the country.   

On Friday, he was in Kasarani and Roysambu. On Sunday, he returned to Embakasi, this time to South and East. 
Raila is not only seeking to affirm his popular status in the city but has also tailored his messaging to address the key issues that will decide who gets more votes.

“The urban poor remain without jobs. People are sleeping hungry. We will put in place the biggest social welfare programme ever seen in Kenya. Every family without anyone earning a salary, will get Sh6,000 every month,” said Raila in Mathare.

He said his government will put the youth at the centre promising to deliver a third liberation.

Third liberation
“The first liberation was against colonialism, the second was the passage of the new Constitution, the third is the economic liberation that is aimed at our youths. I am not going to give youths wheelbarrows,” he said. The DP’s United Democratic Alliance party’s symbol is a wheelbarrow.

The other significant battle is on who has more foot soldiers, who will deliver their message around the city.

So far, Ruto has garnered the support of five out of the 17 MPs in the city county. They include Benjamin Gathiru (Embakasi Central), James Gakuya (Embakasi North), George Theuri (Embakasi West), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata) and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South). He also has the support of Millicent Omanga (nominated senator) and East Africa Legislative Assembly member Simon Mbugua, who is former Kamukunji MP.

Raila enjoys greater support with the remaining 12 supporting his presidential bid. They are Babu Owino (Embakasi East), George Aladwa (Makadara), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Mercy Gakuya (Kasarani), Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), Charles Njagua (Starehe), Yusuf Hassan (Kamukunji), Tom Kajwang (Ruaraka) and Imran Okoth (Kibra).
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda who is former Starehe MP also supports Raila.

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