Grand scheme by pro-Uhuru team to market Raila in Central

Some Mt Kenya tycoons agree with Kenyatta's strategist that Raila is the best bet for the region.

In Summary
  • Uhuru allies say Raila's support in Central Kenya region would send Ruto back to the drawing board.
  • The President has sent signals that he would back Raila as his heir next year.
ODM party leader Raila Odinga in Kieni, Nyeri county on Friday, July 2, 2021.
ODM party leader Raila Odinga in Kieni, Nyeri county on Friday, July 2, 2021.
Image: ODM

President Kenyatta's allies are planning ODM boss Raila Odinga's grand tour of Central Kenya as the handshake team begins to scheme for 2022 with or without the BBI.

As Jubilee finalises a pre-election alliance with ODM, it has emerged that Uhuru could join Raila in the Central Kenya blitz from next month.

The historic tour would be the President’s fight back strategy to scuttle Deputy President William Ruto's fortunes in the vote-rich region.

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.

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 Star has established that several Mt Kenya tycoons who have bankrolled successive presidential elections are in agreement with Uhuru’s strategists that Raila is the region's best bet.

The idea now is to win opinion leaders to Raila’s side as the battle to sway the region’s voting pattern begins in earnest.  

Two weeks ago, former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe invited Raila to a meeting with Mt Kenya businessmen in a strategy to introduce him to the region.

It was during the June 22 meeting at a Hotel in Kiambu that Igathe threw his weight behind Raila, saying he means well for the country.

“I invited Raila Odinga to this event because I have known him not only as a politician, but also a businessman, and I believe if he works closely with the business community, he can mean business,” Igathe said.

Igathe, now a bank executive, has vast connections with Mt Kenya tycoons and was a close associate of the late Chris Kirubi.

It has now emerged that Raila's trip will see him visit Kiambu, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Murang'a counties in the first lap as the President's allies seek to shore up his support.

In January this year, Raila’s symbolic “entry” to Central Kenya was thwarted after chaos rocked his BBI rally at Githurai. The former PM had cut a ribbon to symbolise his welcome to Central Kenya when the chaos erupted.

On Monday, nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a key Uhuru ally, told the Star that Raila’s trip will commence after the Court of Appeal rules on the BBI process.

“Once the court makes its ruling, and we are crossing our fingers that it will be in our favour, the tours will start across Central Kenya. It is Raila who can beat Ruto in 2022 and Central Kenya is ready for him,” the ex-Starehe MP said.

The Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its ruling on the BBI process on August 20 after the proponents of the Constitution amendment filed a petition challenging the High Court verdict that declared BBI unconstitutional, null and void.

“It is the Court of Appeal ruling that is holding us back. We would have started the process to market Raila in Central Kenya aggressively by now, but we will hit the road from next month,” Kamanda said.

He went on, “Nobody will stop Raila from touring Central Kenya. Our people are very excited about a Raila presidency and looking at all factors, Raila is the man to beat in 2022".

This would be the most high-profile visit by Raila when there are indications that Uhuru could have decided to hand over the presidency to his handshake partner next year.

Uhuru's allies say he has evaluated all the candidates and believes Raila fits the bill.

Central Kenya politicians have since 2007 portrayed Raila as a bogeyman, a divisive and vindictive figure who could destroy the Kikuyu nation.

It has also emerged that Raila was set to accompany Uhuru to Ukambani, but the trip was cancelled at the last minute yesterday.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega, another ally of the President, said the Central Kenya "girl has opened her doors for a Raila suitor" ahead of the 2022 presidential election.

“Our votes are not committed to anybody. In the coming months, the former prime minister will be a familiar visitor in Central Kenya,” Kega said.

According to Kega, the Central Kenya region is so liberal in the 2022 choice such that they will entertain all presidential candidates to sell their visions and ideologies without hindrance.

“The former prime minister has a lot of goodwill in Central Kenya. He has a lot of support and you will see this in the coming days,” the MP said.

Kega had on Saturday hosted Raila at his rural home in Kieni East after the ODM boss attended a burial in the constituency.

Allies of the President and Raila are said to be working on ratcheting the March 2018 handshake into a 2022 political deal in which Jubilee and ODM parties will field a joint candidate.

Already, Jubilee has embarked on the process of having party organs endorse the alliance with ODM that is likely to complicate Ruto's chances of succeeding Uhuru next year.

Kamanda, who also hosted Raila at his Nyandarua home last year when the ODM boss met scores of elders and opinion leaders, said the DP should forget the Central Kenya support in 2022

“Our people are not ready for Ruto. That is why you saw Ruto panic a lot when Raila said he will jail the corrupt. Ruto is more worried about a Raila presidency than anyone else,” he said.

Edited by Henry Makori

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