ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday told Kenyans to reject leaders of questionable character eyeing the presidency even as his party announced it had changed gear to focus on a referendum on the Building Bridges Initiative.
The Orange party is keen on the referendum sailing through and its party leader winning the 2022 General Election.
Raila was speaking at the burial of former Ndhiwa MP Zablon Owigo Olang in Raguda, Migori County.
The ODM leader, who was accompanied by more than 10 governors, senators and MPs who rooted for him to be president, hit out at Deputy President William Ruto’s “Dynasty versus Hustler” narrative.
“There’s nothing like dynasties. Those calling us dynasties don’t know where we are coming from and where we are going,” Raila said, as he recalled how he suffered during detention at Nyayo House torture chambers.
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He accused Ruto of failing to implement the laptop promise to pupils and building stadiums, adding that the DP could not be trusted to lead the country.
Speaking in Dholuo, Raila vouched for BBI, saying it will address historical injustices, end violence during elections, boost pastoralism and the blue economy as well as put an end to frequent strikes due to non-payment of salaries.
The initiative, he added, further seeks to address unemployment and make Kenya a manufacturing hub.
“There is a person saying his focus is on mama mbogas and wheelbarrows forgetting that the society is now digital,” Raila said as he criticised Ruto for labelling him ‘analogue’ during 2013 campaigns yet he was now giving people wheelbarrows.
“Wheelbarrows will not help in this era,” Raila said, adding that the Tanga Tanga brigade should stop propaganda on BBI.
National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said ODM had trained its sights on BBI referendum and 2022 election to ensure Raila wins.
Although Raila is yet to officially announce he will vie for the presidency, his lieutenants said he will be on the ballot and urged locals to register as voters in large numbers to ensure he enters State House.
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti said 2022 will be Raila’s last and sure bet of occupying the House in the Hill, and that Nyanza residents should unite firmly behind him.
The leaders who included governors Anyang’ Nyong’o and Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, MPs Tom Odege, Sam Atandi, Peter Masara, Denittah Ghati, Jacqueline Oduol, Pamela Odhiambo, Martin Owino, Babu Owino and Walter Owino also dismissed DP Ruto’s claims that ODM should also be blamed for Jubilee’s failures.
ODM, they said, was not in government and does not have members in the Cabinet and it was therefore foolhardy to blame the party for Jubilee’s failures, adding that the ruling party should carry its own cross.
They criticised Ruto over his persistent attacks on Uhuru and Raila, saying his bitterness showed he was not fit to lead.
Orengo said Kenyans wanted Raila to be president.
“The president is only great if he works for the people and ensures justice. Even Idi Amin was president. In Angola people fought for 20 years, in Central Africa Republic there was an election two weeks ago but the capital city is now surrounded by people who want to take over government. You should be careful of a leader who is obsessed with power and passionately pursues it without logic,” Orengo said.
Although Migori Governor Okoth Obado pledged his loyalty to Raila, saying there was no rift between him and the former premier, he received a lukewarm reception from the ODM leader who accused some politicians of introducing “wheelbarrow politics” in the border county.
The leaders enumerated the benefits of the handshake, saying many major projects had been initiated across the country following the political truce due to peace and stability. Kisumu Port was highlighted as one of the fruits of the handshake, as well as many roads and markets.
Nyong’o said the growth the country was experiencing, especially in infrastructure development, was as a result of the political deal between Uhuru and Raila.
Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino warned that the Dynasty vs Hustler narrative could plunge the country into chaos.
The leaders said it was wrong for Ruto to criticise dynasties, yet he was a beneficiary of the same system.
The late Olang, who once served as an Assistant Minister for Constitutional Affairs, was eulogised as a hero and development conscious leader.