By OSCAR OBONYO
Amid heightened competition for running mate and impending Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has suspended public political activity this weekend, and gone for a retreat at an undisclosed location in Kajiado County.
Raila has “gone under cover” with key members of the presidential campaign secretariat, and some players in ODM Reloaded team, in a move expected to brainstorm over his new presidential bid strategy.
The two-day closed-door consultations that kicked off yesterday also come against a backdrop of mixed fortunes for thePrime Minister. The dismissal of abuse of office charges against Tinderet MP and suspended Industrialisation Minister, Henry Kosgey, has energised the PM’s campaign in Rift Valley. But it has also piled up pressure on him to consider Mr Kosgey as a running mate.
The Standard On Sunday has reliably established that besides discussing the impending reshuffle and the slippery question of running mate, the Raila campaign team’s priority is how the PM can reclaim Rift Valley support, particularly among the populous Kalenjin community.
On this front, the PM’s team is focused on two key individuals – Kosgey and Roads Minister Franklin Bett. Kosgey, who is also ODM national chairman, is quietly engaged in a battle of supremacy with the Buret MP over the running mate slot. In fact the battle has taken a sub-tribal angle.
In a verbal exchange, Bett told The Standard On Sunday that the Kipsigis, who account for about 60 per cent of the Kalenjin population, had for long been short-changed by the Nandi and this time they deserved the slot. But Kosgey reacted by stating he was more focused and wanted to be Raila’s running mate because of his vision for ODM.
“My interest in being a running mate is informed by my commitment to the ideals of ODM on constitutional reforms and reconciliation. The difference between us is that Bett wants to be a running mate for anybody available. Mami lakwa nelen amoche kutuno ake tugul, (no girl goes around saying she wants anybody to marry her,” said Kosgey.
Noting that the ground is quickly shifting back towards the PM, former Eldoret South MP, David Koros, observes that the PM should consider appointing a running mate from the region, to secure the gains.
“Alternatively, we advocate for an arrangement where party delegates should be given opportunity to elect the PM’s running mate. Besides saving Raila the agony of appeasing and disappointing some of his supporters, we as a party shall take responsibility for the exercise,” says Koros.
Rift Valley card
Also drumming up the Rift Valley card is a team of ODM leaders in Nakuru County who want Raila and President Kibaki to reappoint Kosgey to the Cabinet. Speaking in Nakuru town yesterday, the officials led by their Chairman Peter Olesono, also asked the Prime Minister to name Kosgey as his second in command in the General Election.