Raila is the man to beat in 2022, leaders say in ringing approval

ODM leader Raila Odinga shakes hands with Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi during the Azimio la Umoja declaration at Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani on December 10, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday sounded a ringing endorsement for the latter’s State House bid in 2022.

As one speaker after the other strode to the podium during the Azimio la Umoja Convention at Kasarani Stadium, they echoed one thing–Raila’s resolute leadership character and his perfect fit for the presidency next year.

For an event that pulled in thousands of Raila supporters, the agenda even though expected, was far from that hinted by the name Azimio la Umoja (aspiration for unity) but put the ODM leader at the centre of everything.

The leaders described Raila as the most qualified for the top seat, heaping praise on him and vowed to comb every village in hunt for votes ahead of the August 9 election.

Taking a different turn from his fellow One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals, who failed to show up for the event, Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi stated that they remain Raila’s allies and any gains made by the former prime minister are gains for them, too.

“When we gain ground on our side, it is Baba’s gain. The forces are one and we are allies,” said the Baringo senator.

Gideon further challenged the thousands of Raila supporters to choose wisely come next year’s election, stating that everything from security and education to health of Kenyans was in the hands of the next president.

“Who can you trust?” posed the senator. “You will trust those who are here and those who are in OKA. Those, you can trust.”

Several members of Uhuru’s Cabinet graced the event at Kasarani Stadium, signalling his blessings in Raila’s fifth attempt for the top seat.

Cabinet secretaries present were Ukur Yattani (Treasury), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence), Peter Munya (Agriculture), Keriako Tobiko (Environment), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Sicily Kariuki (Water), and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, who is also a CS without portfolio.

Vocal Jubilee vice chair David Murathe described the former premier as the “next occupant of the House on the Hill”.

“Prepare for Raila Odinga to be the fifth president. We are all saying that ‘Baba Tosha’,” said Murathe, who made reference to Raila as famously called Jakom.

He disclosed how they used propaganda against Raila in previous elections while vowing to change the narrative in making him the country’s next president after Uhuru.

“It is us who went to the mountain with propaganda against Raila. But today, we are here to tell the truth and end the lies,” he said, adding that the country can only realise real change under a Raila presidency.

“These young people want to change that they can believe in. There is no other person who can bring that change other than Raila,” said Murathe.

Murathe didn’t miss the opportunity to disparage the image of Deputy President William Ruto who he called ‘Alibaba and the 40 thieves.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said: “As Kenyans, we have walked with you in a long journey and we know you have fought for this country.”

She cited instances in 2008 and 2018 when Raila put the country first by agreeing to engage retired President Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru in bringing peace.

“We the women of Kenya; we will go out there to support you. We are going out to every village to ask for votes for you. The alternative is to finish this country,” said Ngilu.

Politician Cyrus Jirongo said their only enemy is DP Ruto, stating that a win for Raila will mean a win for OKA as well.

His remarks gave a hint at a possible reunion between Raila and OKA principals.

“We are here today because we have hope in our leader Raila Odinga. Leadership comes from God and he has put God ahead in all his plans,” said Jirongo.

Munya said, “All of us are waiting to hear Baba’s pronouncement so that we can start the work we have promised we will do for him.”

Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora said it is under a Raila presidency that devolution will be protected.

He assured Raila of an “overwhelming backing” by the majority of the 47 county bosses.

“You have almost all governors in your support. On behalf of the governors, we have discovered that you are the most pro-devolution of all those seeking to lead,” said the Embu governor.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions boss Francis Atwoli hailed Raila for his good leadership credentials and support for workers.

Atwoli, who is a member of Kanu, asked his party boss, Gideon, to join hands with Raila.

He fell short of urging Gideon to abandon OKA , which also consists of ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka. The three co-principals skipped the event.

“This is the first political organisation to invite workers to their convention. Workers were part of the struggle in attaining independence. We attained independence. As workers, we will support Raila because you support employees,” said Atwoli.

“To my party leader Gideon, Mzee (Moi) said we should not leave you. We will not leave you in OKA,” he added.

He also took a swipe at Ruto, saying he was not fit to lead. Prof Makau Mutua led the charged crowd in declaring to do everything to make Raila president.

He said it was time to open a new chapter in Kenya’s history.

“When we want to go forward as a country we have to look at where we have come from. There is no office as important as the office of the president. We must think not with our hearts but with our head,” he said.

He added, “We have to look at the history of those who have presented themselves for the office.”