- The ODM chief is rolling out an aggressive campaign to penetrate Ruto's backyard.
- Some of the key allies Raila is banking on include Lee Kinyanjui of Nakuru.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga has put together a well-knit team of politicians to lead his charm offensive to penetrate Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard.
The ODM leader is keen to work with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi-Ruto's archival in control of the Rift Valley -to chip away at the DP’s important support base ahead of the 2022 polls.
The Star has established that Raila is also reaching out to his former troops in the expansive vote bloc to revive his networks that saw his ODM party sweep the region in the 2007 general election.
Then the ODM party -an offshoot of the 2005 campaigns against the referendum - dominated the political landscape of Rift Valley with Ruto then playing a key role as Raila’s pillar in the region.
Raila’s move to form his 2022 campaign team for Rift Valley is likely to escalate his hostilities with Ruto who needs every single vote from his backyard to enhance his 2022 chances.
The DP has fallen out with his boss President Uhuru, with key opposition figures working on an elaborate plan to cobble a joint machine to take him on next year.
On Sunday, Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta, a key Raila ally, said the ODM boss is reaching out to all leaders from the region supporting his 2022 bid to work as a team.
“The ODM leader is a master strategist and as you know he is not shying away from campaigning in the Rift Valley region just because there are presidential candidates. He is working with a team that will deliver victory for him,” Ole Kenta said.
He said the Raila team will scour the whole of Rift Valley for votes without shunning any regions because "every vote will count in the 2022 presidential contest.”
“The Maa community, for instance, will vote for Raila and as leaders we will play a key role in marketing the ODM agenda in the region,” he added.
Ole Kenta is among Raila’s key allies leading his 2022 presidential campaigns especially in the Maa community as the battle against Ruto intensifies.
Raila is centering his 2022 messaging on revival of the Agriculture sector, the Rift Valley's economic mainstay, and advancing funds to support the struggling sector.
The ODM boss is said to be banking on Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, to drive his campaigns in the Rift Valley region.
The governor has been playing a central role in organising Raila's tours of the region, especially Nakuru, as he seeks to bolster his 2022 chances.
The governor has been hosting Raila in the county including on Sunday when he joined him for a church service at AIC Naivasha before attending a youth event.
On Sunday, Kinyanjui said the tide is changing in Rift Valley since leaders started to market Raila.
He revisited his incarceration by former regimes, adding that this liberated the country from bad leadership.
“Raila has sacrificed a lot for this country and has even been jailed for us to get the current political space and it's time we supported him,” he said.
The former prime minister’s team from Rift Valley also includes Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, his Kajiado counterpart Joseph Ole Lenku, Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina and ODM politician Kipkorir Menjo.
Also in Raila’s camp is Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes, who is leading the charm offensive in Turkana county, a region that was traditionally the ODM boss’ political bedrock.
Tolgos has admitted to be Raila’s point man in the region as the ODM boss builds a formidable team to shake Ruto’s grip as the battle for the 4.5 million votes intensifies.
“Now, I am fully behind Raila's candidacy because what he would have done for our people in 2007 had he clinched power is the same things he will do next year when elected since he has not changed," Tolgos said.
With eyes on the 2022 presidential contest, Raila is this week expected to storm the DP’s strategic base for his Azimio la Umoja campaigns as he steps out to turn the tables on Ruto in his backyard.
There is also a plan to cobble a working arrangement with Kanu as part of the elaborate strategy to whittle down Ruto in his backyard.
Gideon launched his presidential bid recently but he is believed to be quietly working with Raila for a plan ahead of the 2022 polls.
In what is seen as a charm offensive at the country’s bread basket, Raila has promised his administration will grant subsidies to lower production costs for farmers if elected president next year.
The former Prime Minister has planned a series of activities to market the Azimio la Umoja campaign as he also popularises his 2022 agenda for the country.
Raila will make his first stop in Turkana where he is expected to meet ODM delegates and address residents. Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who was kicked out as ODM vice chairman, is a key ally of Ruto.
After Turkana, Raila will head to Eldoret to meet party delegates from West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties.
The Azimio la Umoja brigade will thereafter head to Nakuru for similar meetings and will be joined by delegates from Kericho and Bomet.
During the scheduled back-to-back engagements, Raila’s regional point men will play a key role in mobilising people to attend the meetings as he positions them as the key cog of his campaign machine.
Other Rift Valley politicians playing key roles in Raila’s campaigns include Nakuru Town West MP Samwel Arama, Kajiado Central’s MP Elijah Memusi and nominated Senator Judy Pareno.
The Star has established that a section of governors from the region are mobilising people to accord Raila a rousing welcome.
The move, those aware of the machinations say, is to pave the way for Ruto’s smooth tour of perceived ODM strongholds, more so Kisumu.
Last week, the ODM leader exuded confidence that he still commands sizeable support in the region, adding that his 2013 and 2017 backers remain intact.
“I cannot say they have left me. That is propaganda. I have garnered votes there. I got substantive votes in 2013 and 2017 much as it was not like that which I got in 2007,” Raila said.
Yesterday, Raila said his government will create a social welfare scheme that will put the youth at the heart of its programmes.
“Every unemployed youth will get Sh6,000 from the government while the youth will also get support from the government to start small businesses,” he told the public in Naivasha, accompanied by Kinyanjui.
He took a swipe at Ruto whom he accused of dishing out money "stolen" from the public funds.
“He has been donating money here and there, buying school buses and vehicles for bishops. That is stolen public money,” Raila said without elaboration.
The ODM boss is projecting Ruto as a beneficiary of corruption and stolen public funds without the necessary credentials to succeed President Uhuru at the house on the hill next year. By James Mbaka, The Star