With about a month to go to the General Election, the race for the presidency is on a deciding stretch, with both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga looking on a “July surprise” to ride on to victory.
Their strategists are having sleepless nights unleashing all the tricks which has seen the first lady Margaret Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto’s wife Rachel come out to help Jubilee woo the women vote for the President.
The frequency of night meetings, some going as late as 3am has become the order of the day in the pursuit of the silver bullet and projections that the race is a dead heat is not helping matters either.
Mrs Ruto’s Tuombeni Kenya (Lets pray for Kenya) initiative, which other than being a vehicle to preach peace ahead of elections is also seen as subtle push for the re-election of the President and his deputy, camped in Nyeri on Thursday.
She has been to eastern and central Kenya so far. Mrs Kenyatta on the other hand has been making stopovers together with Maendeleo ya Wanawake outfit, the latest meeting was in Kajiado last week.
Mr Odinga’s wife Ida is also not left out. She has been meeting women groups and youths to campaign for her husband.
Jubilee is particularly targeting regions they feel hold key to victory. Bungoma is one such regions they plan to stage a last minute surge to try and persuade the residents to vote for Mr Kenyatta.
The President’s men are persuaded that the region is the weakest link in the larger Luhyaland and getting a sizeable chunk of the vote basket is a sure way of securing a second term in office. Alongside other regions, they will be pitching tent there.
The push will no doubt pile pressure on Nasa principal Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya) who by the virtue of being the county Senator is expected to demonstrate his mettle in the opposition alliance that he can help repulse such forays.
And with the rising stakes, no camp is taking chances. No resources are being spared with each camp deploying the war chest they have been keeping since the official campaigns begun. The last batch of the billions they have been “hoarding” will be splurged in the coming days.
Whereas Mr Kenyatta is keen to escape the tag of being a one-term president, Mr Odinga is keen to wrest power from him after three unsuccessful attempts in the past. Age is also not on his side for future stabs.
To try and tilt the scales, we understand that Nasa will be releasing damning dossiers on the ruling party in the coming days having deployed a team of investigators to unearth them.
This is seen as a retaliation to the narrative being driven by Jubilee that Nasa is held captive by corrupt cartels to denigrate its rallying call of dismantling the same if they assume the reins of power.
But with President Kenyatta’s party suspending the campaigns to mourn the shocking death of the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Nasa will have a field day-breaking a rigmarole where each has been following the other’s footprints to try and undo the gains made.
“In honour of his dedication and service, we are calling off the campaigns for one week to mourn,” Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe announced on Saturday.
Before the cancellation, Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were scheduled to tour Turkana. Kisumu, the epicentre of Mr Odinga’s support base was to play host to the Head of State next Sunday. The calendar will have to change.
Mr Kenyatta has high hopes in Ukambani where Mr Odinga’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka comes from, Kisii and Coast region where he believes the ground has melted unlike in 2013 when they overwhelmingly voted for Mr Odinga.
Mr Murathe indicated that we are going to see a more buoyant Kenyatta in the coming days.
“We are maintaining our strongholds and robustly raiding the areas which were hostile to us in the last polls. So far we have bagged Mombasa and Ukambani,” he said.
On the other hand, Nasa has been doing constant adjustments to its campaign team with a view to having an upper hand over their opponents.
Just two day ago, Joe Ager was appointed to head operations at the Nasa secretariat while Zein Abubakar will be in charge of strategy. Mr Ager was Mr Odinga’s family spokesman when the son of opposition supremo Fidel Castro died in 2015, while Mr Abubakar was in the technical team that crafted agreement that created the opposition coalition.
They are further expected to beef up their regional teams with the head of National Campaign Committee Musalia Mudavadi (top) saying that from next week, the five Nasa principals will be splitting up to cover more ground in a single day.
“You will see a more energised team than before. Each of my colleagues in the Pentagon will be commanding separate units to achieve desired effect,” he said.
A review paper seen by the Sunday Nation shows that Mr Mudavadi will be charged with Western Kenya as his counterpart Mr Wetang’ula camps in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia.
Owing to the warm reception he had in eastern parts of Mount Kenya like Nyambene, Mr Odinga has been asked to lead entreaties in Meru.
Mr Mudavadi will also be pairing up with the fifth principal, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, to comb Bomet, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and other regions in the expansive Rift Valley. They are expected to swap after a week, team up at some point before going separate ways again.
The technocrats led by Dr David Ndii will be at hand with constant reviews on how the public is responding and helping with appropriate messaging styles.
Equally, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto will be leading different groups and insiders say they each hope to attend some 200 rallies across the country before converging in Nairobi the last day of campaign cum- prayer meeting at Uhuru Park.
Mr Mudavadi told the Nation that from Monday, all members of the national steering committee will be relocating to counties where they will help with putting up structures for the adopt-a-polling station push.
“We’ll have our teams in a round-robin move-around manoeuvre to cover the whole country. You’ll be surprised how our in-tray is overflowing with creative ideas from all levels. Victory is more than before within sight, we ask our supporters to come out and vote in large numbers,” The ANC party boss said.
Nasa is setting up a mechanism it believes will thwart any attempts to interfere with specifically the presidential vote and Adopt a Polling Station is part of a broad-based campaign to guard the votes.
“We are taking no chances. We are setting up the logistical support systems for the adopt-a-polling-station. It includes ability to tally at the polling station transmit it instantly. A well-resourced directorate will oversee this task alone,” he said.