- The meeting at SK Macharia's Ndakaini residence was loaded with political symbolism with the Royal Media Services owner praising Raila.
- Raila announced that him and Uhuru will tour Nyanza, Western and Coast in the coming weeks.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga has embarked on his forays into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard with a number of high profile Central Kenya politicians promising to back his candidature.
For the first time, Raila's Mt Kenya line-up began to cristalise with Kiambu Governor James Nyoro revealing that they have been consolidating the region for the former Prime Minister.
“We had a meeting in Meru on Saturday. We agreed that all our votes will be put in one basket. We will not divide them. But some people started attacking us. Today we are saying all those votes, former Prime Minister, will come to you,” Nyoro declared.
The governors had attended a high level meeting convened by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya where they agreed to unite the Mt Kenya voting block.
Laikipia Governor Nderitu Mureithi, a nephew of former President Mwai Kibaki, said Mt Kenya owes Raila a debt that must be paid in 2022.
Also in Raila’s Central Kenya team are former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, Kieni MP Kanini Kega and nominated MP Maina Kamanda.
In his speech, Raila declared the birth of a new dawn that will unite Kenyans.
The new dawn, Raila disclosed, will be spearhead by President Uhuru Kenyatta and himself and will see the handshake team crisscross the country starting next week.
There are signals that President Kenyatta has agreed to back Raila to battle with Deputy President William Ruto for the country's top job
“We have come here and you see the face of Kenya is here. A new dawn has started here at SK Macharia, a new dispensation that will unite Kenyans from all walks of life,” Raila said.
“From here we will go to Nyanza next week then Western followed by Coast and all parts of the country with Uhuru standing on one side and myself on the other side.”
The ODM party leader spoke at business mogul SK Macharia's Ndakaini home, Murang'a county, where he was the chief guest at the Skiza Thanksgiving Ceremony.
Speaker after speaker asked Raila to traverse Central Kenya. Kenneth said he has volunteered to aggressively campaign for Raila.
"This I want to ask of you, Jakom," Kenneth said. "Traverse Mt Kenya. My home is just one and half kilometers away. Sometime, come and spend there, go to church in Gatanga. Move so that people can know jamba [hero]....We shall show you around. We shall volunteer,"he said.
The ODM boss has not declared he will run for the presidency next year, but it is widely believed Mt Kenya tycoons who have bankrolled successive presidential elections are in agreement with Uhuru’s strategists that Raila is the region's best bet.
Over the last few weeks, Raila has moved to consolidate his strongholds of Western, Kisii and Coast as he prepares for a do-or-die battle with Ruto.
The DP, who is propagating the “hustler” movement philosophy, has been seen as having a head start in Central despite his bitter falling out with his boss.
He has won Juja and Kiambaa parliamentary polls, signaling his popularity in the region but Uhuru's allies believe they can turn the tables on him.
Buoyed by the Jubilee Party's performance in Kiambaa where its candidate polled 50 per cent of the votes, the President's strategists believe they can deliver over 40 per cent of Mt Kenya votes to Raila. Analysts argue Ruto needs over 90 per cent to romp to State House next year.
Although couched as a private ceremony to appreciate musicians, the event was loaded with heavy political symbolism with Uhuru's allies calling for the region to back Raila to succeed Uhuru.
This was the first time that Raila was attending a high-level event in the President's backyard and signals deliberate efforts by Uhuru's allies to market the ODM boss in the region ahead of the 2022 polls.
The meeting also came at a time when the President's succession team is working in a broad-based alliance of key political players that will see ODM and the ruling Jubilee Party field a single presidential candidate next year.
Without mincing words, the President's confidants opened their hearts and revealed that the region will support Raila as part of settling the historical debt owed to his father Jaramogi Oginga after Independence.
Then Jaramogi, who would become Jomo Kenyatta's vice president refused to form government until Uhuru's father was released from detention.
“From 1963 to 2003, all of us owe a lot of gratitude to the former prime minister and his family for the things he has done for us . In finance when we talk about debts, we start with the older debts from 1963,” said Laikipia Governor Nderitu Mureithi.
The governor was referring to the latitude that Raila's father offered Kenyatta to be released to form government and the historic Tosha mantra that sent Mwai Kibaki to State House in 2002 elections.
“As the Kikuyu, we remember that in 2022 you walked to Uhuru Park and said Kibaki Tosha and he became president. Before Independence, your father stepped aside for Jomo Kenyatta,” said Kieni MP Kanini Kega.
Kega said Raila should be free to traverse Mt Kenya region without fear that anybody has locked the Kikuyu votes for anyone.
“Please, Raila feel free to crisscross Central Kenya. We have not forgotten that you are a great leader and be sure that we have not committed our votes to anyone, they are waiting for you,” Kega said.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a key Raila ally from Central Kenya, said the Mt Kenya region will support Raila next year because of the sacrifices that he has made for the democratic space Kenyans enjoy today.
“We don't know what to pay you, Raila, because you have sacrificed a lot. We have abused you for long and said a lot of dirt about you. People ask how we will clean that but I want to say that let God clean that for us,” Kamanda said.
The ex-prime minister was joined by President Uhuru's close political confidants including four governors from Mt Kenya region, Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju and Devolution CS Eugene Wamwala.
Other notable figures were governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang'a), Nderitu Muriithi (Laikipia), Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), James Nyoro (Kiambu), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) and James Ongwae (Kisii).
MPs who accompanied the ODM leader included Kamanda (nominated), Kega (Kieni), Juneet Mohamed (Suna East), Joseph Nduati (Gatanga), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo), Maoka Maore (Igembe North), Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Kemusi Kanchory (Kajiado Central), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu) and ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna.
Waiguru, Nyoro and Kenneth said the region will cast its vote in one basket in next year’s polls telling off those pushing to split the region’s votes.
“Politics is about interest, let’s look where our people’s interest will be well addressed. Please tour this country so that people see you and we are ready to walk you around,” said the ex-Gatanga MP.
The former Planning minister sought to discount Deputy President William Ruto's bottom-up economic model saying it was wishful thinking as it is not anchored on an elaborate strategy to grow the economy.
“Those who are promising money, be careful, you ought to be taught how to fish and not to be given fish. There is no one who can dish out government money unless you steal,” he said.
Raila also took a swipe at Ruto’s bottom-up economics, saying Kenyans do not need handouts but empowerment to develop their talents.
“We don’t want handouts, Kenyans can produce. Kenyans are industrious people and they want to use local labour and talent to produce so that Made in Kenya becomes an international brand,” he stated.
Waiguru said the region will not waver when it comes to delivering the votes to their preferred choice and that 2022 will not be an exception.
“As Mt Kenya we don’t go left and right. At the ballot we shall cast our vote in one basket where our interest as a community is well taken care of,” she told the gathering.
Siaya Senator James Orengo said Raila was not a dirty politician as he is being portrayed by his rivals, blaming the country's style of politics for negative ethnicity.
“The programmes and the projects that Uhuru and Raila have planned will make Kenya greater not only for us but for the future generations,” he said, adding that Tuesday meeting has opened the window for more engagements. by