Raila ups the ante in hunt for votes in his Kibra backyard
- On Saturday, Mr Odinga led a meeting involving members of the Kamba community in which governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) pledged to support the ODM party candidate.
- Mr Odinga told DP Ruto to stop fooling the people of Kibra that he would facilitate development in the constituency if Mr Mariga wins in the November 7 by-election.
Jolted by fears of a loss in a constituency that has been described as his “bedroom,” Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has taken charge of last-minute campaigns for the party’s candidate in the upcoming Kibra by-election.
Although campaigns for ODM candidate Bernard “Imran” Okoth was initially to be coordinated by the party’s Nairobi branch chairman George Aladwa, Mr Odinga is said to have been forced to personally take charge of the vote-hunt amid worries that Deputy President William Ruto’s campaigns for Jubilee Party candidate MacDonald Mariga had made unexpected inroads in the constituency.
His move is said to have also been influenced by internal polls conducted by both the Jubilee and ODM parties that portrayed a scenario of a possible split of votes among opposition coalition National Super Alliance (Nasa) candidates.
CHANGE OF STRATEGY
And, in a change of strategy, the former prime minister has embraced boardroom and town hall meetings, a break from his past preference for political rallies that attract multitudes.
On Saturday, Mr Odinga led a meeting involving members of the Kamba community in which governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) pledged to support the ODM party candidate. A day before that, on Friday, Mr Odinga led another campaign meeting involving members of the Gusii community who are voters in Kibra constituency.
The Friday meeting was attended by various Gusii leaders, among them Kisii Governor James Ongwae and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama, Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and former MPs Alice Chae and Timothy Bosire, who is also the ODM national treasurer.
Mr Odinga told DP Ruto to stop fooling the people of Kibra that he would facilitate development in the constituency if Mr Mariga wins in the November 7 by-election.
Imran Okoth is seeking to inherit the seat left vacant following the death of his brother Ken Okoth on July 26.
Mr Odinga and the two governors, while addressing the Kamba grassroots leaders in Kibra at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation, also urged the DP to account for the money that he was allegedly dishing out to voters during his campaigns.
“Ruto should do what he is promising the Kibra residents now. Why should the development he is talking about wait until his candidate wins the race?
This is hypocrisy of the highest level,” Mr Odinga said noting that as the second senior-most government official, he has all the powers to implement the projects he is talking about.
“The money they are dishing out is stolen while the government has no funds to finance its projects. It is similar to the Youth for Kanu 92,” added Mr Odinga.
But as Mr Odinga spoke, a defiant Ruto, who spoke in Nakuru, said Jubilee will win the Kibra seat with a landslide victory.
Ms Ngilu and Dr Mutua did not have kind words for the DP, accusing him of trying all the tricks in the book to ensure that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), that was instigated through a political pact between president Kenyatta and Mr Odinga fails.
The BBI report, to be unveiled soon by the President, is said to propose a constitutional amendment through a referendum.
“They are moving around dishing money but I want to tell them that money is not leadership. If they come with the money please take it but vote for Mr Otieno. That money does not belong to them, it is what they have stolen from you,” Ms Ngilu said.
“We are now going to embark on door-to-door campaigns to ensure that the ODM man wins this seat. We will be here (Kibra) tomorrow again,” she added.
The Kitui governor also wondered why Mr Ruto was opposed to the BBI that seeks to address the areas that made him oppose the 2010 Constitution.
“In 2010 we said that lets pass the constitution but amend it as we move on. Those who oppose to it now say it is okay. What has changed? They have lost the network and please do not listen to them,” she said.
For his part, Dr Mutua dismissed Mr Eliud Owalo (Amani National Congress), Mr Khamisi Butichi (Ford-Kenya) and Mr Mariga as non-starters.
“These people have been brought to Kibra as projects of individuals with vested interests. They are strangers and have been imposed on the people of Kibra. Please reject them and support the ODM candidate,” said Dr Mutua.
“They steal what the country borrows so that they can bribe people for votes,” he added.
Two weeks ago, the police arrested suspects believed to be buying identity cards from certain communities in Kibra, ostensibly to stop them from participating in the mini poll.
According the Elections Act, one is required to produce an identity card before being allowed to vote for candidates of their choice.
With some Kibra residents already without the vital document, it means that they will not be allowed to vote come November 7.
Speaking at Salgaa market, Nakuru after a fundraiser, the DP said the looming win by Mr Mariga is what has sent shivers in the opposition with Raila Odinga and his team panicking.
“It is not well in Raila’s camp and that is why they are complaining almost in everything. That is a sign of a defeated person. God-willing and going by the development programmes we initiated as a government in Kibra, we shall win with a landslide,” Mr Ruto said.
The DP was accompanied by Nakuru senator Susan Kihika, Ms Liz Chelule (Nakuru Woman Representative) and MPs Kimani Kuria (Molo), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) among others.
Reporting by David Mwere, Samuel Baya and Nyambega Gisesa