I reached Kalonzo before my Wote tour – Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga during the Azimio la Umoja forum at Wote town in Makueni County on November 12. [Courtesy]

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga said he spoke with his Wiper counterpart, Kalonzo Musyoka, before embarking on his trip to Wote, Makueni County on Friday. 

Odinga said he informed Kalonzo of his Azimio la Umoja event at Wote, and that the Wiper chief told him he won’t be in a position to attend the function, but “asked me (Raila) to pass his greetings to you”.

The ODM boss said he had a lengthy conversation with Kalonzo on the phone on Thursday night.

All the Ukambani governors—Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) — attended the Azimio la Umoja event held at Wote Town in Makueni County.

The county bosses agreed to work with Raila Odinga ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Kibwana, appearing to shelve his presidential ambition in favour of Odinga, said “he (Odinga) has more experience in national politics than I do, and he’s, therefore, best-suited to lead this country.”

Charity Ngilu, on the other hand, said Odinga, out of the opposition aspirants, was the best bet to beat Deputy President William Ruto, who has strongly expressed interest in the 2022 presidential crown.

Mutua, on his part, said DP Ruto “cannot claim to have new ideas to transform Kenya, yet he’s served as second in command for nine years, but there’s nothing to show for it.”

Odinga, who pledged to support vulnerable families by giving them an upkeep of Sh6,000 every month, said should he be elected President, he’ll sustain the scheme despite his opponents expressing doubts on the sustainability of the programme, which would cost the taxpayer at least Sh137 billion every year.

“My opponents claim the pledge I made [on October 13, 2021] is unrealistic and meant to deceive Kenyans to vote for me [in the 2022 presidential election]. I want to assure you today, that I’ll keep that promise,” he said.

The ODM leader said he’d rely on the experience he acquired as prime minister [between 2008 and 2013] to close corruption taps. According to him, the serious war on graft that he would wage would make more money available to the government to spend on Kenyans.

Odinga estimated that about Sh730 billion is lost to graft annually in Kenya.

He also reiterated his previous remarks – that women and youth would play an important role in his government.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana read out a list of Ukambani leaders’ priority areas that he wished Odinga would address should he win the presidency in 2022.

Some of the issues include water scarcity, Thwake and Konza dams construction, youth employment, and improvement of the road network in Ukambani.

Kalonzo Musyoka, who skipped the function, is on record saying he won’t relinquish his presidential bid for anyone else.

Musyoka and Odinga have worked together in the past, with the two forming a president-deputy president ticket in the 2013 and 2017 general elections. Their stab at the presidency was, however, unsuccessful, losing to President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in both elections.