CORD leader Raila Odinga with Bomet County Governor Isaac Ruto at Tumoi, Chepalungu when the former premier paid the Governor a visit. [File, Standard]
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party leader Raila Odinga has intensified his efforts to win votes in the expansive Rift Valley that is a Jubilee stronghold.
This past week, Raila has been meeting elders and opinion leaders from North and South Rift to woo them to support National Super Alliance (NASA) in its bid to unseat President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Wednesday, while meeting a delegation of more than 100 aspirants, elders and leaders from Keiyo South, Raila said even Chama cha Mashinani leader governor Isaac Ruto was in NASA. “We in NASA are working as a team. Even Ruto (Isaac) is now with us,” Raila said at his Opoda home.
Also present was former Kenyan High Commissioner to South Africa Tabitha Seii.
The Keiyo South delegation also visited the mausoleum of Raila’s father — the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga — at Kango village.
The delegation was led by Keiyo South Parliamentary aspirant, Micah Kigen. Sources also say Raila met Governor Ruto though details of their talks are scanty.
Kipsigis Council of Elder’s Secretary Edwin Kimetto said they discussed many issues key among them how to support NASA.
“Sisi tuko ndani ya NASA,” stated Kimetto. He added that they have agreed on the campaign modalities to sell NASA.
“We have mapped zones to campaign. We will not just focus on Rift valley. We will be very strategic,” he said.
And they have big plays in their bid to sell Project Raila.
“We want to host Raila next weekend here and unveil our working plan and arrangement to market him,’’ Kimetto said.
The meeting was earlier scheduled for this weekend, but has been pushed forward so that Ruto can attend. He disclosed that they will host the Opposition leader in Bomet, and hold a rally in Mauche, Nakuru County.
Mr Kigen said ODM will have aspirants in two parliamentary seats and about 20 wards in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
“We were duped by Jubilee through the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues, and we voted for them blindly. We have since seen their performance and we have decided to join Raila camp which we are confident will carry the day,” said Kigen.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto used their indictments at the court over the 2007/8 post elections violence to whip up political emotions in the 2013 campaigns.” During the meeting at Opoda farm, Raila told the delegation that the Opposition will address the problems facing the Kalenjin community once it secures power.
Also present were Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga, Oburu Odinga (nominated MP) and Sylvance Osele, the Kabondo Kasipul MP. Raila said that he will soon be visiting Elgeyo Marakwet County to drum up support for NASA. “These people have brought a petition to NASA over Jubilee’s misrule. We will address their concerns when we get into office,” said Raila.
According to Mr Kigen, Keiyo residents are concerned over land issues, massive environmental degradation which has come up due to the establishment of flourspar extraction in the area and high maize prices.
“We have resolved to support you as our presidential candidate for August elections because we know you can solve our problems and we will support you fully,” Kigen said.
NASA principals in make or break talks
“We must be together as the 42 tribes, whether we like it or not. We have seen what unity can do in the Grand Coalition Government. Our relationship as Luos with Kalenjin and Keiyo Community started along time ago. We have many similarities as a people,” he said.
In December last year, Raila’s presidential bid got a boost after elders from the Kalenjin, Maasai and Kisii communities resolved to campaign for him. The elders told reporters in Kisumu that they have settled on Raila because of his campaigns to protect their communities’ interests. They also cited his opposition to the construction of the Itare Dam in Kuresoi, Kericho County.
The 50 elders from Kericho, Bomet, Nandi and Narok counties on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with their Nyanza counterparts led by Ker Willis Otondi in Kisumu where they vowed to support Raila.