ODM leader Raila Odinga is staging a fightback to consolidate his support.
In a week that has seen the opposition leader meet several groups, Raila yesterday made a foray into the heart of Nairobi’s Eastlands, a week after Deputy President William Ruto toured the populous Kayole.
The former premier has held town hall meetings with youth, women, and Kikuyu Council of Elders to sell the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) while using the forums to hit back at Ruto.
And yesterday, Raila shrugged off the Jubilee administration baggage of broken promises and poor service delivery, challenging the DP to explain why the pledge to deliver laptops to learners in 2013 flopped and construction of 47 ultra modern stadia and creation of a million jobs for youth have never materialised.
He made similar remarks on Saturday at the Ufungamano House in Nairobi, where he addressed women leaders.
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“They say Raila is analogue. They said children will have laptops. He has forgotten that and now he is giving out handcarts and wheelbarrows. Where are the jobs, state-of-the art stadia?” Raila told the women.
The ODM leader spoke a day after meeting Kikuyu Council of Elders and Githurai traders, where he announced plans to tour Mt Kenya in his quest to inherit Uhuru’s support base.
On Monday, he hosted a team of youth at his Karen home under the banner of ‘Team One Nation’ led by former Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga. On Tuesday, Raila held talks with artistes and rallied them to use their talents to promote BBI. He met youth drawn from around Nairobi at Ufungamano House on Wednesday before making an impromptu visit to Burma Market, where he popularised BBI.?
Speaking at Soweto Catholic Church yesterday, Raila accused Ruto of undermining President Uhuru Kenyatta by running an opposition wing within the government. He said Ruto should not hoodwink the public with promises of supporting mwananchi when Jubilee pledges ahead of the 2013 and 2017 elections remained unfulfilled.
The DP has maintained that the Jubilee development agenda was derailed by the March 9, 2018 handshake between the president and the ODM leader that birthed the BBI.
“There are those who are now trying to blame BBI for Jubilee failures. Is Raila a minister in Jubilee government? It is them who are in office using government resources,” Raila said.
He added: “I want to warn Kenyans of the lies and propaganda of Mr six months. They promised many things saying in six months we shall give laptops, in six months we shall give a million youths jobs, in six months we shall build 47 modern stadia.”
He claimed that some of the monies being given out in harambees were from the public coffer. The ODM leader further said the Standard Gauge Railway project was conceived during the grand coalition government and contract of $2.7 billion awarded, but Jubilee inflated the cost to $4.3 billion.
Raila's latest remarks appear to break away from his stance of backing government projects that could have political ramifications on his 2022 plans even as he gave yet another indication that he could run for the top seat.
“No retreat is no surrender until we get to where we wanted. Our journey to Canaan is now and we want to walk together with youth, women and all Kenyans,” said Raila.
He was accompanied by ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed (Suna East), MPs Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Esther Passaris (Nairobi Woman Rep), Maina Kamanda (nominated) and Godfrey Osotsi (nominated).
Others were MPs George Aladwa (Makadara), Raphael Wanjala (Budalangi), Antony Oluoch (Mathare) and Samuel Atandi (Alego Usonga).
The leaders rallied the public to back the proposed constitutional changes, saying the proposed 35 per cent resources to the counties and 5 per cent for ward development funds will spur sustainable development at the grassroots.
Raila countered Ruto’s hustler narrative saying youths do not need wheelbarrows and handouts, but skills and opportunities for growth.
“We want internet connectivity in the villages so that our youths can work while at home for international companies. We also want women to get to the county assembly and Parliament. We want the two thirds requirement achieved in the next elections,” said Raila.
Kamanda rooted for a Raila presidency, saying the country was ready to embrace a new beginning under the BBI.
“There is a new beginning, and that is the BBI. It has brought equity. Those saying this and that, we know them. Let them go round as they wish,” said Kamanda.
Junet said Ruto cannot run away from the Jubilee failures because he was part of the problem. “Ruto is now telling us that he is the solution. How can he be the solution of a problem he has created," posed Junet.
He accused the DP of trying to divide the country on the basis of class, terming the hustler versus dynasties a dangerous narrative that could plunge the country into chaos.
Sifuna reiterated that those hoping that Raila and Uhuru will end the good relations were day- dreaming.
Oluoch exuded confidence that the proposed constitutional changes will sail through, saying Raila has never lost a referendum contest.