ODM has also redoubled efforts to woo the Gusii region, which is within Raila’s Nyanza Province turf, but votes independently from Luo Nyanza. Last weekend, Raila met Kisii professionals in Nairobi and promised ODM would back a candidate from the community for one of the parliamentary seats in the city. The proposition is particularly attractive given the community had never had their own elected MP in the city.
Even as all this activity goes on, the PM’s spokesman Dennis Onyango says the ODM leader is yet to launch campaign proper. Thus, he argues, current poll figures show Raila is in much stronger shape than his rivals.
“We take the fact that the PM is at par with Uhuru at this point as a very strong positive pointer to the fact that Raila stands to win the coming election,” said Mr Onyango. “It should be sufficiently clear the PM, unlike all his opponents, has not began campaigning, not in the way Kenyans know him to campaign when he begins,” he added.
He reckons other than concentrating on Government for much of the year, the PM has concentrated on consolidating the party. Mr Imanyara says Raila is working to garner a majority votes in more than half of the 47 counties.
“This is our goal and we have mooted multiple strategies to avoid a possible run off,’’ Imanyara told The Standard Friday. The Imenti Central MP is confident his community will not vote along ethnic lines to propel leaders from Central to power.
South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya claims most MPs in Kisii support Raila. “It’s difficult to ignore your neighbour. Raila comes from Nyanza and has our interests at heart. We can’t ignore him at all, he has assured us of massive support,” Mr Nyamweya said. Raila appointed Nyamweya as Trade Assistant minister although he is a Ford People MP.
“Very soon I am planning to make an official defection from Ford-People to ODM to ratify the support that we have for Raila,” he said.
Housing Assistant minister Margaret Wanjiru said: “Why are some people thinking that Raila cannot lead? We need to reflect on the good things that the premier has done to this country.” Political analyst Tom Mboya of Maseno University argues Raila has shed the radical image that rivals have used against him.
“He cuts the image of a sober leader who has the interest of all Kenyans at heart,” Mboya said. “He has also mastered the politics of tolerance and forgiveness.”