Raila to launch his 2022 State House campaign in Thika

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022 00:00 | By
George Mwaura, a member of Kiambu Youth for Baba, gives a presentation to former Prime Minister at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga headquarters in Upper Hill, Nairobi. Photo/PD/Alex Mburu

Orange party leader Raila Odinga will on Saturday kick off his State House campaign in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard, a major signal that the Central Kenya vote is at the heart of his election strategy.

Raila will lead the Azimio La Umoja brigade to Thika, Kiambu County, where he is set to hold what will be his first campaign rally in the election year.

Thika has some nostalgic significance for Raila, having been the venue at which he launched his 2005 campaign against the draft Constitution alongside Uhuru and other members of the Orange team.

The campaign would culminate in the defeat of the Constitution, that was being spearheaded by President Mwai Kibaki and eventual formation of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). 

It created momentum for the hotly contested 2007 General Election between the two, leading to post-election violence.

“On Saturday, the Azimio La Umoja movement will be in Thika. This will be the first rally for the Azimio team in 2022,” said Raila when he hosted a group of youths from Kiambu County at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation premises in Nairobi.

Yesterday, Raila said he would address residents of Thika to popularise his presidential bid in a region that has in previous elections voted against him.

In July 2017, Raila had to cut short his campaigns in Thika town after rowdy youths confronted and stoned his motorcade.

Police fired teargas canisters to disperse the violent youths who accosted the opposition leader as he was addressing residents from the top of his car.

However, his Handshake with Uhuru seems to have changed Raila’s relationship with the Mt Kenya region with key leaders from the area endorsing his quest for State House.

What initially appeared to be a smooth ride for Deputy President William Ruto in the region, is fast turning into an uphill task due to his frosty relationship with President Kenyatta.

“All roads will lead to Thika. We are going to speak to the people of Murang’a and Kiambu in Thika,” Raila told the youth yesterday.

His announcement comes barely a week after he appointed a 12-member presidential campaign board chaired by Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, with financial guru Elizabeth Meyo as the chief executive. 

One of the board members, American-based law professor Makau Mutua, said that a Raila presidency aims to create a society that is inclusive and where all citizens will exercise their rights.

The university don, who attended yesterday’s function, said that apart from ‘Babacare,’ Raila’s plan for universal healthcare, and the Social Protection Programme, more initiatives and ideas on how to improve the lives of Kenyans will be released in coming days.

Main opponent

“We in the Azimio team seek to create a nation where citizens will fully exercise their rights and a society that everyone aspires to have,” said Prof Mutua.

Ruto has been making inroads into the vote-rich Mt Kenya region and has bagged at least eight Kiambu lawmakers to his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) outfit.

They are Patrick Wainaina (Thika Town), George Koimburi (Juja), Njuguna Wanjiku (Kiambaa), Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Githua Wamacukuru (Kabete), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) and Gathoni Wamuchomba, the Woman Rep.

MPs Ng’ang’a King’ara (Ruiru), Wanjiku Kibe (Gatundu North), Peter Mwathi (Limuru), Jonah Mburu (Lari) and Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town) support Raila’s Azimio La Umoja camp.

In his address to the youth yesterday, Raila reiterated that his administration would ensure education for all from nursery up to the university, adding that those who will graduate and intend to open businesses will be given a seven-year tax holiday so that their businesses can thrive.

Conducive environment

This was one of the proposals of Raila and Uhuru’s Building Bridges Initiative project that was rejected by the courts.

Raila assured young people that his administration would create a conducive environment for local and foreign investors to set up their firms locally by eliminating bureaucracy and corruption.

“We must lower the cost of infrastructure and eliminate bureaucracy and corruption.

My administration will create a conducive atmosphere for investors to invest and create employment,” said Raila.

He challenged the youth to not only look for jobs in the public sector but in private enterprises, adding that his government would empower the private sector to thrive so that they can create employment for the millions of young graduates being released into the job market annually.

The Orange party leader further charged that he was not seeking employment as the President of Kenya, but rather setting the correct button for an economic revolution.

“I am not seeking employment as the president of Kenya, but I want to partner with you so that we set the right take-off of economic revolution for our country and future generations,” he said.

At the same time, Raila reiterated that his administration would ensure that all citizens get proper medical care irrespective of their social status, adding that “a healthy nation is a wealthy nation”.

He told the youth that his administration would reform the Jua Kali sector and provide access to capital for millions of young graduates to set up businesses and become employment creators.

“We will formalise the Jua Kali sector so that it is more profitable and absorb many of the unemployed youth.

We will give incentives and a seven-year holiday tax so that our youths and the young graduates can become employment creators,” he said.

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