NASA leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka during the launch of their campaigns at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega. [Photo: Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]
The National Super Alliance (NASA) Saturday made big promises as it kicked off its official campaigns in Kakamega town and sought to put the 1.9 million votes in Western region under lock.
Thousands of jubilant supporters jammed the town from as early as 6am, as NASA leaders sent the Jubilee Party a strong message that the region was under their control.
NASA presidential flag-bearer Raila Odinga said the launch of their campaigns in Kakamega was significant since historical meetings in Western Kenya were held at Bukhungu Stadium.
“I am delighted that our campaign launch is being held in Bukhungu. Our journey to State House and mission to send home Jubilee has officially kicked off,” said Raila.
He promised free primary and secondary education soon after elections if he wins the presidency.
“Immediately I am declared winner, NASA’s free education commences in September for all schoolchildren,” he said.
Raila said they will also increase the monthly stipend for the elderly from Sh2,000 to Sh3,500.
The five priority issues the NASA team promised to address are high cost of living, corruption, unemployment, failed devolution and insecurity.
“Kenyans are suffering due to the high cost of living and I promise that my government will address it within 90 days from the moment we take over. As NASA, we promise what we can deliver not like Jubilee who are busy giving new promises yet they have not fulfilled old ones,” said Raila.
The Opposition leader also used the occasion to launch what he called the Western investment blue-print.
He said NASA already has development plans for every sector in Western Kenya, which will be implemented immediately after polls.
“This booklet contains what NASA will do in education, health, agriculture and infrastructure when we win in August. This investment plan once implemented will boost the economy of Western,” he said. He vilified President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, saying they have not achieved much for Kenyans over the last four years.
Jubilee has always insisted that Western region, which comprises Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and Vihiga counties, is a battle ground where both sides will scoop sizeable number of votes.
However, NASA co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula said the region is their stronghold and that they would rally residents to vote for Raila, accusing the Jubilee government of killing sugar factories and the Pan African Paper Mills in Webuye.
Kalonzo, who is Raila’s running mate, expressed confidence that they will defeat Jubilee with over two million votes.
“We will not accept rigging because we have put in place mechanisms to guard our votes. We are ready for change in August and Kenyans should vote overwhelmingly for NASA, the winning team,” said Kalonzo.
He said NASA’s rating now stands at 55 per cent, dismissing a recent opinion poll which placed Raila at 42 per cent against President Kenyatta’s 47 per cent. “I have done my digital polls and as per Saturday, NASA’s popularity was at 55 per cent, but today with our official launch it has gone up to 60 per cent,” he said.
Mudavadi affirmed that Western will vote overwhelmingly for NASA, following their teaming up arguing.
“I realised that I cannot walk alone in the presidency journey and that is why we decided to come together and form NASA. I am very optimistic that locals in this region will vote to the last man for Raila,” he said.
Wetang’ula said Jubilee should be voted out for not fulfilling the promises it made in 2013.
“Jubilee is to blame for the collapsed industries in this region and Kenyans now have an opportunity in August to vote them out of power,” said the Bungoma Senator.
Also in attendance were Narc leader Charity Ngilu, governors Wycliffe Oparanya, Hassan Joho, Cyprian Awiti, Sospeter Ojaamong, Cornel Rasanga, Kivutha Kibwana, Okoth Obado, Moses Akaranga, senators Boni Khalwale, James Orengo, George Khaniri, Elizabeth Ongoro, Moses Kajwang and Daisy Nyongesa and a host of MPs.
Ngilu, who joined the NASA team in a rally for the first time, said she was happy to be “back home”, adding that the Opposition team is a replica of the 2002 alliance that ousted Kanu from power. “I have worked with this team in the past and Narc is back together through NASA. I see 2002 victory in August. I ask Western region to vote for NASA because they have all Kenyans’ interests at heart,” said Ngilu, who is vying for Kitui governor seat.
Governor Joho was given a warm reception when he arrived late and wasted no time in attacking President Kenyatta and Ruto, accusing them of all manner of ills.