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Jubilee, NASA target strongholds in epic battle for numbers

POLITICS
By Biketi Kikechi | January 15th 2017
IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba

The scramble for numbers by the Jubilee and NASA coalitions is quickly shifting to voter listing as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) embarks on mass registration across the country from tomorrow.

The clarion call has been made by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leaders led by ODM’s Raila Odinga to supporters to ensure that as many people as possible register to help them win the presidential election on August 8.

From the figures released by IEBC, it appears the opposition has its work cut out because a large number of people are holding ID cards but had not been registered as voters since December 2015 in its strongholds. A large number of those who received ID cards last year have also not enlisted to vote.

The mad stampede for voters in areas perceived to be opposition and Jubilee strongholds will therefore kick off in earnest tomorrow as politicians continue campaigning and pushing their supporters to turn out and register.

Attention will also turn to swing vote areas targeted by Jubilee despite the opposition having scored highly in those regions in past elections.

Those include parts of Western, Nyanza and Coast regions where President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have made many visits since last year. Figures released by IEBC show that the opposition has an uphill task registering a large number of people having identity cards in its strongholds to bolster its support base.

By December 2015, the coast region had 1,047,831 potential voters with identity cards who had not been registered, Western 1,107,524, Nyanza 1,274, 894 and the three Ukambani counties of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos having 1,130,558, making a total of 4,560,783 unregistered voters.

The Jubilee side will have an easier task in its strongholds of Rift Valley and Mt Kenya with the former having 1,804,376 unregistered voters at the end of 2015, Central 1,025,294 and the three counties of Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi having 618,589 people. This adds to 3,448,259 unregistered voters that Jubilee hopes to bring on board to boost its numbers.

As it stands now, the opposition stands to gain if it can get all unregistered voters in its strongholds to get voters’ cards because they would be surpassing the figures recorded in areas controlled by their rivals.

That then leaves areas like North Eastern with 1,426,455, Nairobi with 1,276,912, Marsabit 43,729 and Isiolo 33,243 unregistered voters up for grabs by the two coalitions.

Campaign machinery

Despite the fact that the coalitions will be fighting to lock their strongholds, both sides could use their campaign machinery to eat substantial votes from each other’s areas.

The Jubilee side has introduced the smart card which it intends to use to get members from all areas across the country, especially those who have not been captured in the voters’ roll.

President Kenyatta has called on all aspirants seeking elective seats to put their differences aside and go flat out to register as many voters as they possibly can and use the numbers to make his victory a formality. “Competition should be on who will register the highest number of voters and not the do-or-die competition that we are witnessing amongst you,” Uhuru told a gathering of aspirants at Kasarani on Friday. The President has pledged to reward those who register the highest number of voters from ward to the county level.

“After the one-month voter registration, we will meet here and give awards for the ward, constituency and county that will register the highest number of voters,” said the President.

The President has assured Jubilee aspirants of free, fair and transparent nominations, saying only party members will determine the leaders.

The Jubilee leadership moved quickly to speak to voters barely two days after the NASA group that brought together Raila (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) asked supporters to register in astronomic numbers.

Raila has outlined at least four steps that must be executed to get Jubilee “out of our lives”, among them getting all eligible voters to register.

“There are millions of Kenyans who subscribe to Opposition ideals and who are tired of Jubilee but are not registered as voters,” says Raila.

He has also asked NASA-affiliated leaders to ensure all supporters across the country take a keen interest in the compilation of the register and to inspect it after registration to ensure it bears accurate details of all voters. He also wants all eligible supporters to vote on Election Day and then protect the vote, but it all begins with taking the first step, which is to register.

The IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said the 30-day exercise will start on January 16 and end on February 14, 2017.

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