President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday sought to consolidate his support base in Nairobi County as the battle for the 2.2 million votes in the city intensifies.
His main challenger Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) has planned rallies in the city on Sunday, just two days after President Kenyatta traversed the vote-rich county.
At the heart of the battle for the presidential voters, however, appears to be a bare-knuckle fight for the coveted governor seat, a race pitting Jubilee’s Mike Sonko and incumbent Governor Evans Kidero of Nasa.
“I am here to ask for your votes, to give me the mandate to finish the job. We have laid the foundations for prosperity and now we need to complete the job,” the President said at Riruta Stadium, one of the many stops the Head of State made.
On Nairobi governor race, he said: “But we need a strong team. We need Sonko who understands the city’s residents, and we want you to give us the other aspirants who won clean nominations.”
The President and his deputy William Ruto, cautioned against what he said were division in the Jubilee camp that he said cost them the ticket in 2013.
“We had divisions in Nairobi in 2013, and we lost the governorship by a slim margin. In 2017, we asked you to go for nominations, you did and we respected that. Today, I am asking Peter Kenneth to respect the wishes of the people and let Sonko thrive,” said President Kenyatta at Jacaranda Grounds.
DP Ruto said that Mr Sonko was the man for the job, while pushing a spirited call for votes for President Kenyatta saying he had transformed the nation.
“We have done the railway, the roads, connected people to electricity, introduced free maternity, and examination fees waiver. Let us do more,” said the DP.
Mr Sonko, the flamboyant senator, has chosen former Vivo Energy boss Polycarp Igathe as his running mate in the battle against Dr Kidero-Johnathan Mueke duo.
“I am the man for the job. We will clean this city and we will make sure that we re-train all the county askaris so they can better take care of our citizens,” said Mr Sonko.
A recent opinion poll placed them at a tie of 44 per cent support, signalling the gruelling battles in the last two weeks before the campaigns close.
In 2013, Dr Kidero had 692,483 votes, beating Jubilee’s Ferdinand Waititu by about 70,000 votes.
Comparatively, Senator Sonko had the third highest number of votes nationally after President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga- 808,705 votes.
The battle for the 2.3 million presidential votes in the city is expected to be similarly bruising.
Nairobi is a classic battleground given its almost down-the-middle divide support of the two main coalitions.
The county, with 2,250,823 voters up from 1,732,288 in 2013, was in 2013 split between the two leading candidates as President Kenyatta had 659,490 votes and Mr Odinga 691,156. Turnout was 81 per cent.
President Kenyatta also backed a six-piece voting for Jubilee candidates, including Johnson Sakaja for Senator and Rachel Shebesh for Women’s Representative. He also urged support for local MP and MCA candidates.
Sonko now has a popularity rating of 44 per cent tying with Kidero.