No billboards, no caps, no T-shirts. Is Raila’s campaign cash-strapped?

No political uniform: NASA candidates led by Nairobi woman representative aspirant Esther Passaris wave to supporters during the Saba Saba rally at Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi. [Boniface Otieno, Standard]

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is yet to stage a well-oiled campaign with just 26 days to election day in what insiders term as a fresh strategy ‘to put resources where it matters’.

Although the Opposition chiefs have been traversing the country hunting for votes, their campaigns are devoid of the campaign hardware that Kenyans are accustomed to.

NASA is yet to procure caps, T-shirts, branded reflector jackets and flyers. It has not printed and distributed campaign posters and its billboards are nowhere to be seen.

 Protecting the vote

The Raila Odinga team has also not started media buying for adverts in both print and electronic platforms, raising fears that the Opposition chiefs maybe facing a cash crunch.

Raila’s advisor Salim Lone says they are late in running the traditional campaigns for strategic reasons.

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According to the advisor, NASA’s priority was to invest in what he terms as enormous resources needed in protecting their vote.

“We know our numbers and we know the breakthrough we have made in the so-called Jubilee strongholds. We are putting foremost resources to protect the vote as we have learnt lessons from the last two elections on how the votes are stolen. We have invested in agents and trained them to guard our votes,” Lone says.

He however argues that NASA supporters will soon see NASA’s campaign muscle when it deploys resources to protect its vote.

“You will be seeing that very soon. We are coming to the stage where we will be comfortable and can deploy those resources,” Lone adds.

Several months after Raila was named the Opposition presidential candidate and the announcement of his campaign team led by Musalia Mudavadi, NASA has failed to show its financial muscle, which could either be a strategy or a symptom of lack of money.

Other than fears of cash crunch, insiders insist that the lack of colour in their campaign is informed by the notion that voters have already decided and adverts or campaign materials do not in the end add to the numbers.

This, they said, was a deliberate decision to divert campaign money to the recruitment of agents who will help in not only securing their vote but also mobilising supporters to cast their votes.

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There is no single ‘Raila for President’ poster countrywide, unlike in 2007 and 2013. His images are only seen on campaign posters of the various NASA party candidates including governors, senators, MPs and MCA candidates. The only major billboards are those featuring the five Nasa leaders together with the change slogan.

Raila’s campaign is also yet to witness branded campaign vehicles and caravans bearing his image and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka’s.

Branded T-shirts

This is in total contrast to what their main rivals President Uhuru Kenyatta and his DP William Ruto are running where they literally paint their rallies read with branded T shirts and other merchandise.

In the ongoing campaigns, only the five principals Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and Isaac Ruto don branded shirts bought from the campaign kitty. A few leaders such senators, governors and MPs have privately bought theirs.

“The lack of campaign material is strategic for us since we don’t want to appear like we  lure supporters with free caps or T shirts to attend our rallies,” NASA secretariat head Norman Magaya says.

According to Magaya, NASA will invest its resources in any form of campaign where it is sure of returns. The team is planning to begin advertising albeit lately to counter the Jubilee juggernaut. The party has not been advertising directly but the Presidential Delivery Unit has been advertising the successes of the Jubilee government. 

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