- Raila has been to seven counties to popularise BBI where 2022 politics also took center stage.
- Ruto has scaled down his public engagements.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has kicked off aggressive countrywide public engagements in what appears to be a tactical move to counter Deputy President William Ruto’s wave ahead of 2022 election.
Raila’s tours that started a month ago came almost one month after DP Ruto scaled down his public engagements due to what he termed a surge in Covid-19 infections.
For instance, in a span of four weeks, the former Prime Minister visited seven counties, holding strategic meetings with local leadership as he drums up support for the Building Bridges Initiative. The engagements are also laced with 2022 politics.
In the last one month, the ODM boss has been to West Pokot, Kitui, Murang’a, Kakamega, Lamu, Kwale and recently Ol Kalou in Nyandarua County.
In Ol Kalou, Raila was hosted by nominated MP and veteran politician Maina Kamanda in a meeting that was attended by who- is –who in the politics of the area.
Governors Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Martin Wambora (Embu), James Nyoro (Kiambu), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya, former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe and a host of MPs and Senators were all present at the meeting.
Murathe, Kamanda and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth have been open in spearheading Raila’s presidency in Uhuru’s Mt Kenya backyard.
In August this year, Murathe — a close Uhuru ally — said Kenyans should gear up for a Raila’s presidency, a statement that left tongues wagging.
But during the weekend Nyandarua meeting, Raila — who is yet to announce his 2022 candidature — tried with little success to avoid the 2022 campaigns.
“We are not talking about 2002 because 2022 will come and go but Kenya will remain,” he said.
But speakers at the meeting, without expressly endorsing the ODM leader, appeared to have made up their mind on the direction the vote-rich region should take in the next General Election.
Kamanda said the region owes no one any political debt and will take a path that will be beneficial to its people.
Governor Kiraitu said it is time for Mt. Kenya to consider what is good for the community as it engages political players.
“Let us negotiate good position for Mt Kenya region. Let us not divide our votes,” Kiraitu said.
Since his handshake deal with President Uhuru kenyatta, the former premier has been making political inroads in Mt Kenya, a region that has not been supportive of his political interests over the years.
Ruto's dominance in the region had been growing and the DP has been relying on his 2013 political deal with Uhuru to inherit the region.
Now with Raila's steady inroad into the region, it will complicates Ruto's advantage going into 2021.
But according to ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, the Nyandarua meeting had nothing to do with the 2022 politics but a private meeting over lunch.
“That was not a public engagement; it was a private function where he was invited to Kamanda’s private home to just have lunch with him and leaders from the region,” Sifuna said on phone.
He added, “He (Raila) said it is not yet time to discuss issues of 2022He has made it clear that currently the main agenda is to ensure that we complete this process of BBI and Constitutional amendments.”
He repeated the same during an interview with KTN News.
Apart from the countrywide engagements, the ODM chief has also stepped up a charm offensive, hosting politicians at his Capitol Hill offices from consultative meetings believed to be part of his 2022 plan.
Last month, Raila hosted Malava MP Malulu Injendi – a known DP Ruto ally – at his Capitol Hill offices who according to the ODM leader ‘decided to join the team promoting the BBI initiative’.
The MP, however, returned to Ruto’s fold after a two-week dalliance with Raila.
But speaking during a funeral service in the constituency on December 18, Malulu said Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya asked him to accompany him to meet someone who would assist him to ensure that Malava constituency was one of those to be split under the 70 additional elective areas proposed by the BBI.
Raila also hosted a powerful delegation from Samburu county led by former Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe.