- Oparanya says the ODM top organ will meet to ask Raila to pick his number two from Mt Kenya.
- Kalonzo and Musalia have insisted they want to run but Oka is teetering on the brink of collapse.
A spirited push for ODM boss Raila Odinga to pick his running mate from Mt Kenya could complicate political plans for Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi.
Although Kalonzo and Musalia have insisted that they would go to the ballot, their nascent One Kenya Alliance has yet to take off and teaming up with Raila is seen as no option.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had been spearheading the unity bid but it appears to have faltered.
However, with Raila’s second-in-command coming from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya bastion, the duo would be forced to settle on less influential posts should they agree to work with Raila.
The Star on Wednesday revealed big names being considered for Raila's second-in-command as the battle for numbers begins in earnest.
Speaking to the Star, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, an influential figure in Raila's circles, said the ODM party will ask Raila to pick his second-in-command from the region.
“We will prevail upon the prime minister soon to have him pick a running mate from Mt Kenya, going by the population dynamics. We shall then accommodate other regions in top government positions,” Oparanya stated.
The county boss, who is also the ODM deputy party leader, said a running mate from the President’s turf would enhance Raila’s chances of winning the State House battle next year.
According to the 2017 voter registration statistics, the eight Mt Kenya counties have a total of about 4.2 million voters.
These are Kiambu (1,180,920), Kirinyaga (349,836), Nyeri (456,949) Muranga (587,126), Nyandarua (335,634), Meru (702,480), Tharaka Nithi (213,154) and Embu (309,468).
This excludes Nakuru and Laikipia, which are also dominated by the Kikuyu community.
Ukambani's three counties of Kitui, Machakos and Makueni had a total of 1.5 million votes.
Among those being considered for Raila running-mate post are former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Agriculture CS Peter Munya and Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
The new revelations could force Kalonzo and Musalia to go all the way to the ballot.
The two have yet to agree on the Oka lineup. However, both Kalonzo and Musalia insist they will be on the ballot.
On Thursday, nominated MP Maina Kamanda said Raila will pick his running mate from Mt Kenya given the region’s numerical strength.
“It will not be a favour at all but a fair way of appreciating the region for its decision to back his presidential bid,” the MP said.
The former Starehe MP who is also a key Raila ally from Mt Kenya, said the Oka principals have no option but to join Raila ahead of the 2022 polls.
“It is either they join Raila or they perish. There are no two ways about it. They (Oka) chiefs should know that Mt Kenya has decided to vote for Raila next year,” he said.
But Wiper vice chairman Victor Ogeto said the party boss will not agree to play either second fiddle or go for any lesser post in the 2022 polls.
“We are clear as a party that let the people decide who will be the next President and his excellency Kalonzo Musyoka will be on the ballot,” Ogeto said.
The Star has learnt that the death of the Building Bridges Initiative at the courts—although an appeal has been lodged at the Supreme Court—could have completely changed the 2022 alliance-building dynamics.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria told the Star that the leaders from Mt Kenya have resolved that the region will settle for nothing short of a running mate position.
‘The position of the Deputy President is not negotiable because that is what would be commensurate with the Mt Kenya votes,” the MP said.
According to the vocal lawmaker allied to Ruto’s Tangatanga camp, the region is home to nearly 40 per cent of the country's 19 million voters, a strong numerical power that must be compensated in equal measure.
“Now that we have given in to other people to see how they can also lead this country, we cannot completely give up on everything and that is why we are saying the position of the Deputy President is non-negotiable," Kuria said.
It also emerged that the Mt Kenya region is planning to play hardball to push for a bigger share of government next year as a compromise for the historic failure to front a formidable presidential candidate.
The collapse of the Building Bridges Initiative is said to have pushed the leaders from Mt Kenya to work on a common agenda for the region including sharing of political power and resources ahead of the next polls.
“The next thing we want is to have a proportional share of government. We want at least 40 per cent of government jobs to go to Mt Kenya. If we have 22 ministers, seven should come from the Mt Kenya region. That is the minimum we are asking for because it is our right,” Kuria said.
Edited by Henry Makori