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Presidential candidates in last dash to woo voters, with just 30 days left to the elections

Presidential candidates William Ruto and Raila Odinga when they met with IEBC over the preparedness of the August 9 election. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

As Kenya gets ready for the polls in the next 30 days, the four men who are jostling for State House have engaged top gear in their final dash for the presidency.

The quartet of Deputy President William Ruto (UDA), Azimio la Umoja coalition party flag bearer Raila Odinga, Roots party’s George Wajackoyah and Agano’s David Mwaure is fervently engaged in a mad dash to woo the electorate.

The candidates who have been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are sparing no efforts as they amplify their campaign strategies to capture the hearts, souls and minds of the 22,345,000 registered voters.

Deputy President William Ruto’s Town Hall meeting in Nairobi on Thursday was his latest charm offensive in the battle for numbers which has now entered the final stages.

During the meeting, he answered issues of public interest such as his economic recovery agenda, his relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his track record as the second in command for the past 10 years.

First stab at presidency

Ruto who is making his first stab at the Presidency is banking on various campaign strategies including town hall meetings across the devolved units, amplified rallies, meetings at his Karen residence, billboards as well as charters with special groups such as the youth, people with disability (PWDs) and women.

Notably, Ruto has pledged to have signed charters with all 47 counties and special groups by July 20 having held consultative meetings on the same.

Ruto’s campaign issues revolve around improvement of the Agriculture sector, affordable housing, and affordable healthcare by revamping NHIF, economic recovery, creation of employment and increasing of TVETs among others.

Insiders within the Kenya Kwanza camp revealed that they will hold their final rally in Nairobi on August 7, before Ruto heads to Uasin Gishu to cast his vote in Sugoi.

Kenya Kwanza will dedicate the last two weeks of July, to campaign in the Mt Kenya and Rift valley regions. During the final campaign week, the camp will go to Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho and Pokot for a day each.

“The Plan is that in a day each team can have 30 events in four counties. Meaning we can cover 28 counties in a week unlike our competitors doing three rallies in a day,” a source confided.

Since he launched his manifesto two weeks ago, Ruto been to every corner of the country without a break the recent past in his rallies. 

It is during one of these rallies that Ruto recently accused Raila of sensing defeat following the latter’s stance that should IEBC not adopt a manual voter register, he (Raila) would boycott the elections.

Enter Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition front runner Raila, who has managed to fashion his fifth stab at Presidency as a mission towards the country’s third and economic liberation. Being a key figure in the struggle for multiparty democracy in Kenya, Raila is banking on history to shape his future.

Raila’s tact, right from the 2018 handshake, has seen him remain relevant in the political circles and attract the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta. He has relied on rallies, media interviews and social media, town hall meetings as well as engagements with special groups including teachers, lecturers and the youth.

The ODM leader has zeroed in on issues around economic recovery, social welfare programme that includes payout of Sh6,000 monthly to the unemployed, affordable healthcare, revamping of the local textile industry, and access to quality education for all children among others.

Raila has also in the recent past kept the electoral agency on its toes in a bid to ensure a free and fair election. His insistence on a manual voter register buoyed by his claim that there was a ploy to rig the elections in 10,000 polling stations has kept the IEBC busy.

Prior to that, Raila had presented a list of issues to be addressed by the Wafula Chebukati team; Electronic identification of voters and transmission of results, audit of the register of voters, Amendment of the Elections General Regulations (2012), Recruitment of returning officers, the printing of ballot papers, data migration and the election timelines.

According to Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohammed, Raila’s final rally will be held in Nairobi –presumably Uhuru park on August 7, but before then they have planned a series of rallies across the country where they will deploy different teams.

“We have covered 30 counties. These are done and dusted. We are sure of victory. We have figures and data to validate our claims. We will now be concentrating on 15 other counties to consolidate our win,” said Junet.

“We will still go back to Mt Kenya to complete our mission of winning as many votes as possible. This is a critical moment and we are going to comb all corners of this country,” he added.

Then there is the wildcard George Wajackoyah of the roots party. The durag, ragged jeans and combat-shirt donning candidate has successfully championed his campaigns around the legalisation and exportation of Marijuana - an illegal substance in Kenya - to settle the country’s foreign debt.

His advocacy of the plant has sensationalized his bid and whipped up emotion, especially amongst the youth but also relegated him to being a cautionary tale in religious circles.

His reliance on reggae music as a tool of influence, media interviews, social media, club appearances and rallies has seen him make a stride in the vote-hunting realm.

Wajackoyah is however reeling from accusations and counter-accusations of dual Citizenship, Kenya and Britain, and is eager to brush them aside as they could cost him the Presidency; according to Kenyan law, one cannot be a presidential candidate if they hold dual citizenship.

He has however maintained that at no point did he ever renounce his Kenyan citizenship even while plying his trade in Britain.

His recent manifesto launch gave the public an insight into issues dear to him. They include; snake farming, export dog meat, hanging the corrupt, suspending the Constitution, suspend the Constitution, shutting down the Standard Gauge Railway, a four-day work week, moving Kenya’s capital city from Nairobi to Isiolo and creating eight states.

Roots party spokesperson Wilson Muirani Gathoni alias Jaymo Ule msee divulged to The Standard that Presidential candidate Wajackoyah would be intensifying his vote-hunt mission by embarking on meet the people tours across the country.

The other contestant in the race is David Mwaure of the Agano party who has pursued the religious approach to the Presidency. 

This will be Mwaure’s second go at the Presidency after he offered himself for the position in 2013 but later on shelved his ambition. He is deputised by Ruth Mutua.

All eyes are now on the four presidential hopefuls to see whose efforts to clinch the country’s top seat will pay off with only 30 days to the polls.