CAMPAIGN TRAIL

How Ruto is putting pressure on Raila in State House race

The DP is making another grand return to Nairobi days after invading the city in a charm offensive

In Summary
  • Unlike other presidential hopefuls, Ruto’s campaign is weaved around hefty donations running into millions of shillings.
  • Since New Year, the DP has addressed almost 50 rallies in the 10 counties he has taken his Hustler campaigns.
UDA supporters at DP William Ruto rally at Eldoret Sports Club on January 8, 2022.
UDA supporters at DP William Ruto rally at Eldoret Sports Club on January 8, 2022.
Image: BY MATHEWS NDANYI

Deputy President William Ruto has taken his State House bid a notch higher, with an aggressive campaign schedule putting pressure on his arch-rival ODM leader Raila Odinga seven months to the polls.

Ruto is making a debut at the presidential race while Raila will be making his fifth run for the country’s top seat.

The DP – one of the frontrunners in the State House race alongside Raila – has rolled out an elaborate campaign plan that has seen him hold rallies in 10 of the 47 counties since the year started.

The second in command is today making another grand return to Nairobi days after invading the city in a charm offensive.

Ruto will be in a whirlwind tour of Nairobi on Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Unlike other presidential hopefuls, Ruto’s campaign is weaved around hefty donations running into millions of shillings dubbed empowerment programme to youth and women groups, churches and schools.

Ruto's penchant for donations has been the subject of heated debates, with a number of leaders questioning the source of the millions he has been using to bankroll church activities all over the country.

The DP has, however, remained unapologetic and has continued donating bundles of well-arranged crisp notes, hitting at his critics as anti-poor.

“Our competitors are questioning my donations. I want to tell them: don’t complain about Sh2 million. This year’s we are allocating Sh50 billion for the poor family that you look down upon,” he said yesterday during a campaign tour of Kajiado county.

ODM boss Raila, a fifth time presidential candidate, is expected to rollout his nationwide Azimio campaign blitz in the coming months.

Kiminini MP Didmus Barasa said Raila's campaign machine cannot match the DP’s juggernaut.

“We have come from far. They dismissed us that we will run out of energy but with our target on the horizon they should expect even more from us,” Barasa said on phone.

The Ruto ally claims that Raila's age is his biggest undoing in the State House battle. The ODM boss turned 77 last week.

“He doesn’t have the energy, he is trying to copy us but he cannot match our campaign.”

Since New Year, the DP has addressed almost 50 rallies in the 10 counties he has taken his hustler campaigns.

In the first week of January, he camped in his backyard counties of Kericho, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Elgeyo Markwet and Bomet counties.

The DP, in one of daring onslaught, also stormed Migori, Busia and Kakamega counties, areas which are traditionally ODM leader Raila Odinga’s bases.

On Wednesday, the second in command intensified his campaigns raiding Eastern part of Nairobi where he addressed rallies in six constituencies.

The constituencies include Kamkunji, Mathare, Embakasi North, Embakasi West, Embakasi Central and Kasarani.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega has however come to the defence of the Azimio side, dismissing talks that the movement launched in a colourful ceremony has taken hiatus.

Kanini who is the patron of Azimio Youth Turk – a lobby supporting Raila’s candidature – sent a warning to their critics whom he claimed will be in for a rude shock.

“We are planning a number of activities. On Saturday we will be in Thika which will be the launch of Raila Odinga campaigns," he said.

"We have lined up a number of activities together with campaign board to make sure that each every day we have activities in each and every part of the country.” 

He added: “Our worthy competitors have been saying we are not on the ground. We will be in all villages to ensure young people [who] have IDs are registered as voters. We will be going in all the 290 constituencies. We are leaving nothing to chance.”

During his numerous tours, the DP has assured supporters that he will decisively win the August polls and that his victory will not be stolen by the faceless ‘deep state’ and ‘system’.

"If you look at me, do I look like a person whose votes can be stolen? We are ahead of these people (his competitors) in everything," he said.

The DP has also been popularising his bottom-up economic model.

Yesterday he addressed three major rallies in Kajiado’s Embulbul, Gataka and Ongata Rongai.

Speaking to the Star on phone, Suna West MP Peter Masara downplayed claims of inaction in Raila’s camp, saying DP’s side will soon burn out.

“We are not worried because official campaign has not started. We are strategising and planning but the truth of the matter is, Raila is seasonal politician. We are planning to do proper campaigns.”

According to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission timelines, official campaigns should start on May 30, three months to the election.

“Ruto has never [put up] campaign as presidential campaign. Raila will do better than any other candidate already campaigning,” Masara added. 

North Mugirango Joash Nyamoko told the Star the DP’s camp is just but gaining momentum ahead of the elections.

“If there is a time that we have ever gained a lot of momentum then it is now. I do not foresee a situation where we will drop the guard,” Nyamoko said, adding that Ruto remains unbeatable.

 

(edited by Amol Awuor)