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I am not too old to lead Kenya, says Raila

By Stanley Ongwae and James Omoro | August 3rd 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga.[Standard]

ODM plans to team up with other parties to form a formidable force to face off with Deputy President William Ruto in next year’s General Election.

Speaking in Homa Bay and Nyamira counties yesterday, ODM leader Raila Odinga announced plans for a series of meetings across the country starting Friday to chart the way forward. Raila, who spoke at Kawahindi village in Kasipul Constituency during the burial of Russel Oranga, brother in-law of his sister Wenwa Akinyi, further dismissed claims that he was too old to lead the country.

“Some people say Raila is already old and can easily be wrestled down in a battle. Am I old?” posed Raila.

The ODM leader said he has a ‘lot’ of energy to marshal votes across the country.

He vowed to increase his support base in Mt Kenya region, where he got few votes in the 2017 elections.

“It is unfortunate that some people are saying Raila is too old to climb Mt Kenya in the quest for votes. What they don’t know is that I have a lot of energy and with strong donkeys (foot soldiers) for climbing the mountain,” said Raila.

He promised to transform the country to be like Asian tigers Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia.

National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said following the withdrawal of ODM from NASA, it will team up with Jubilee and other like-minded parties ahead of 2022 polls.

“On Friday, a huge ship will come that will carry everyone. All of Nyanza counties will meet and chart the way forward. UDA may not get the space to enter because their party is like the Covid-19 pandemic,” Junet said, adding that Raila was the best suited to be the country’s president.

The ODM countrywide meetings, that will begin in Nyanza at Sikri in Kasipul Constituency on Friday, are aimed at rejuvenating Raila politically to counter Ruto’s gains.

The plans include holding meetings with stakeholders in the informal and formal sectors at regional headquarters (formerly provincial headquarters).

The stakeholders will give their views on what they want Raila to prioritise in his agenda to improve the economy.

“After each of the meetings, we will come up with resolutions which represent voices and needs of the people of that region. We are starting with Nyanza this Friday because this is a people-driven initiative,” the ODM leader said.

He reiterated that NASA is dead and they are only awaiting burial.

Raila described the meetings as national dialogue aimed at harmonising major issues affecting mwananchi revolving around rural transformation, political unity and health reforms.

The ODM leader was addressing mourners during the burial of the wife of former Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire at Nyamwanga in Nyamira County.

Raila said the strategy is geared towards reigniting his political ambitions and countering the Hustler narrative.

He disclosed that he will champion three issues, which he claimed are clearer than Ruto’s ideologies.

Raila said the DP’s bottom-up economic strategy will not help Kenyans.

“The meetings will involve political shakers and all people involved will be given a forum to give their views on what they want to be addressed in changing the country to the better,” said Raila.

This comes after Siaya Senator James Orengo and MP Otiende Amollo said the Building Bridges Initiative was being reignited and that reggae was non-stoppable.

Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga urged Raila to woo new coalition partners to augment his support.

“Jakom (Raila), bring everybody to this house so that we can walk together towards our future ambitions in leadership of this country. We must now start a new journey of getting what we want,” Wanga said.

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti said time had come for the ODM party to start a new journey towards taking leadership of the country.

The governor urged the Luo community to rally people from other regions to back Raila.

“What I have observed is that Raila should be in the ballot box in 2022 because he has the best qualities for that seat,” said Mr Awiti.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae recounted victories of the party in the recent by-elections and assured Raila of Gusii support.

Mr Ongwae predicted that Nyanza will unite and produce a president.

“The region should be united so as to ensure the presidency comes to Nyanza,” said the governor.

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo urged the Gusii community to remain united.

“Let’s be united and if we do so, we shall be sought for as a bloc,” said Mr Nyaribo.

Mr Bosire said Ruto was not fit to negotiate with Raila.

“There should be no room to negotiate with someone of questionable personality. But because Raila is a father of even the bad, if he comes to him, he can receive him,” he said.

Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi urged Raila to join hands with Ruto ahead of the elections.

Oburu Odinga said bottom-up economic model propagated by UDA was only about giving hand-outs to the lowly people.

“Ruto stood against the Constitution. He said it was bad and now we are changing it, he is saying it’s the best. Isn’t that hypocrisy?” Oburu posed.

Orengo said Parliament was being taken for granted by leaders who were not committed to legislation that is favourable to many people.

He told MPs who are concerned about the welfare of mwananchi to join hands and fight for progressive laws.

“Let’s go to the old tradition of fighting hard for people,” said Orengo.

The Siaya senator criticised the Hustler narrative, saying it lacked true strategy on empowerment of people.

Orengo also blamed Ruto for allegedly being behind wrangles within Jubilee, which he said resulted to Raila coming in as a mediator.

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