25 governors endorse Raila's State House bid, hit out at Ruto

The 25 governors agreed to unanimously give their full support to Raila Odinga’s quest for the presidency. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Governors from across the country have backed ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid, describing him as a longtime defender of devolution. 

After presenting a four-point scorecard on Raila’s previous performance, the 25 governors agreed to unanimously give their full support to the former PM’s quest for the presidency. Kenya has 47 governors.

In a joint statement read by Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, the governors said Raila was fit to lead the country due to his support for devolution, his people-focused politics and campaign, as well as commitment to peaceful elections and the future of this country. Muriithi is also the chairman of Raila’s election campaign board.

During the consultative meeting at a Naivasha hotel, the governors criticised Deputy President William Ruto’s candidature for the presidency, saying that he would curtail gains made by devolution if elected.

 While thanking the governors for their support, Raila noted that the country’s future lay in devolution. He pledged to increase the funds allocated to counties to 35 percent of the Budget. In the 2021-2022 Budget, counties have been allocated about 27 percent of the last audited accounts.

Raila revisited the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, which he said was a sure way of guaranteeing voters a big chunk of government revenue as is the case in Nigeria.

“Devolution has done a lot in terms of health, education, infrastructure and water, hence the need to add funds allocated to counties,” he said.

He hit out at the DP for his hustler nation narrative, saying it was creating a class war between the poor and the rich.He accused Ruto of demonising the rich and argued that the country should make efforts to enrich the poor instead of fighting the rich.

The ODM leader also challenged the youths to register as voters now that the electoral commission has re-opened listing of new voters. The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission is targeting to register 4.5 million voters in its drive, which started yesterday.

Addressing journalists, Muriithi, the Laikipia governor, said Raila has devolution at heart and will continue advocating for it, unlike some leader who, he said, will disband the system if elected.

“The man who led opposition to the new Constitution, devolution and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is running to be President of Kenya. Devolution and the entire 2010 Constitution face grim threats that we must not take lightly,” he said. “Should the instruments of power fall in their hands, the people who opposed these gains can disband devolved units. It has happened once in this country before. It can happen again.” 

ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

According to him, Raila was the only presidential hopeful who had shown commitment to keep the country united in its diversity and beyond the coming polls.

“Raila has been keen to establish a people-driven campaign focused on the needs of each region. Leaders govern the way they campaign. Campaigns that embrace people and their diversity lead to governments that embrace and focus on the people,” said Muriithi, who was appointed to chair Raila’s election campaign board earlier this month.

As present was Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who announced that he was shelving his presidential bid after consultations with the electorate, and had decided to support Raila for the top seat.

He said that for years, Raila fought to liberate Kenya from poor leadership, and described the August elections as the right time for him to lead the country.

“I am still young and after consultations, I have decided to back Raila for the coming elections as he has all the potential to lead this country,” said Kibwana, 67. His counterpart, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyajui, accused Ruto of being on the campaign trail since 2017..

“We shall mobilise our resources and manpower to make sure that our youth register as voters so that they can participate in the coming general election,” he said.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho also hit out at the DP, accusing him of being the biggest enemy to devolution.

ODM leader Raila Odinga (centre) with Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho (left) and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, January 17, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

“We have credible information that the DP plans to do away with devolution and the way of protecting it is by rejecting him in the next general election,” said Joho.

Charity Ngilu of Kitui echoed his sentiments, noting that Ruto has since 2005 opposed constitutional amendments that proposed to increase funding to counties.

“In 2005, 2010 and 2021, Ruto was in the forefront of rejecting the current Constitution and reforms through BBI which would have increased funding to counties,” she said.

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, a new and unlikely supporter of Raila’s candidature, said the August elections will determine those who are pro-devolution.

“The only way we can save devolution is through the leadership of Raila who has assured the country that he is keen to guard this system of leadership,” Kingi said.

Alex Tolgos of Elgeyo Marakwet dismissed the narrative that the entire Rift Valley was behind Ruto, saying Raila has considerable support in the region.

“I am here to show that he has supporters, not only in Rift, but across the entire country,” Tolgos said.

Others who endorsed Raila’s candidature were Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Ali Korane (Garissa), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Martin Wambora (Embu).