Raila: 2022 is a big game hunt, we'll return with trophy

ODM leader, however, remains tight-lipped about whether the handshake also involves a political deal with Uhuru

In Summary
  • Raila rallies Luo community to arm themselves with IDs and voters cards
  • He says he will announce his future plans after BBI
ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of Kilifi County on March 3.
BIG GAME: ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of Kilifi County on March 3.

An upbeat Raila Odinga on Monday compared the 2022 presidential election to a big game hunt for Nyanza and predicted they won't come back empty-handed.

Raila exhorted his Nyanza support base to come out in droves to register as voters and boost their chances in the polls. He spoke in the morning during an interview with a Dholuo FM station in Kisumu.

The former Prime Minister likened the 2022 political duel to a hunting expedition and predicted they will return with big game if the community votes.

“Our people should come out in numbers and register for the national ID and take advantage of the continuous voter registration to list themselves as voters," he said on a popular morning talk show on Nam Lolwe FM.

But as he rallied his backyard, Raila didn't say whether he would be on the ballot next year and if his truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta also involved a political deal.

There are expectations in Raila's bastions that Uhuru could declare a 'Raila Tosha' next year and rally his Mt Kenya backyard to back the former Prime Minister.

Uhuru, who is on a three-day working tour of Nyanza, on Sunday declared his handshake with Raila is a long-term engagement that “will go into the future”.

During the interview, Raila urged residents to take advantage of the continuous ID registration and voter listing to increase their voting power.

Even candidates who have just received their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam results should not be left out of the drive to have everyone on the IEBC roll, Raila said.

He said a deliberate effort must be made to overturn the history of low voter numbers, which has disadvantaged the community in past polls.

According to the IEBC's 2017 voters’ register, the four Nyanza counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori had a combined total of 1.8 million votes.

In the 2017 mass voter registration, Nyanza was among regions recording the lowest voter turnouts, with the number of new voters falling short of half the electoral agency’s target.

Other areas that failed to hit the target included Western, Nairobi and Coast.

“Our area always lags behind in voter registration. That is why I am telling our people to throng the IEBC offices to register and not to wait for the mass registration normally marked by long queues,” he stated.

Though Raila didn't comment, assertions by his close allies and observations of his activities paint a picture of someone ready to throw his hat into the ring.

The African Union High Representative for Infrastructure has always said he would reveal his  political plans after the BBI referendum.

Last month, the High Court declared the BBI process unconstitutional, null and void. The ruling has been appealed.

The ODM leader also dismissed the parliamentary route to realise proposals in the Building Bridges Initiative being fronted by a group calling itself the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group.

He said the parliamentary initiative is premature coming at a time when the proponents of the Kenya Constitution (Amendments) Bill, 2020, are planning to have the High Court ruling reversed in the Appeal Court.

“We are in the Court of Appeal and we have lined up a strong legal team. How do they know we are not going to succeed in court?” Raila asked.

He was responding to the plan by a number of lawmakers to amend the Constitution through a parliamentary initiative to avoid a protracted court battle.

Speaking to journalists separately in Homa Bay town, ODM national chairman John Mbadi told legislators from the party who are in the caucus to withdraw their membership.

“ODM has neither approved any caucus nor allowed party legislators to go the parliamentary way of amending the Constitution. Let ODM MPs in that caucus quit because they don’t serve the party interest,” Mbadi said.

On Monday, Mbadi said ODM has no intention of taking the Bill to Parliament for enactment. He maintained that the Bill is a popular initiative that must be enacted by the people through a referendum.


Additional reporting by Robert Omollo


(Edited by V. Graham)