ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday received “blessings” from his Nyanza backyard to vie for the presidency, and told his opponents to brace for a political tsunami.
Mr Odinga, who outlined his plans to transform the country’s economy if elected president in the August 9 polls, received a heroic welcome by jubilant crowds chanting his name and political slogans.
At the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium, an upbeat Raila asked ecstatic crowds of supporters to complete with him his political journey to get the country’s top job by turning up in their numbers at the ballot.
He tackled almost all the issues that have been on his political table, including the controversial “madoadoa” remark he made in Wajir and asked for forgiveness, saying his sentiments meant locals should vote for Azimio la Umoja parties.
The Kisumu rally came ahead of his official unveiling as the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate.
He said his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta was on course.
Raila allies led by ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya told Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka to join Azimio la Umoja or be locked out.
Raila dared Deputy President William Ruto to set up a parallel tallying centre as he exuded confidence he would trounce his rivals by a landslide victory in the August 9 polls.
“I told them that they prepare for a tsunami. They are going to see,” said Raila.
According to Raila, the political vehicle they have built with Uhuru through Azimio la Umoja Movement will have a great impact in transforming the country.
He likened the political realignments set to climax with today’s unveiling of Azimio la Umoja presidential flagbearer to a tsunami, which he said would sweep away his opponents.
He was confident Azimio would garner a majority of seats in the polls, adding that his supporters were ready for the polls and would turn up in their numbers to cast their votes for Azimio aspirants.
The movement has brought together parties backing Raila’s presidential bid, including President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
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Raila’s lieutenants urged One Kenya Alliance leaders to join their team in today’s unveiling of the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate.
Today’s event will play a significant role in Raila’s political journey, with his allies optimistic that other people will join them and back Raila for the presidency.
Raila said his forays in other parts of the country have yielded fruits and have won him several allies and expressed optimism that today’s event will be the official game-changer.
He waded into his Handshake debate with President Uhuru Kenyatta amid cheers from supporters and expressed optimism that they are keen to ensure that the country continue moving in the right direction.
The culmination of his bid to lure more people to back his fifth stab at the presidency will be climaxed today during the launch of the Azimio la Umoja movement.
With President Kenyatta expected to play an important role in the movement and also engineer support for the ODM chief for his succession, Raila and his allies praised the president for taking the bold step to work with Raila.
Raila had to stop his speech several times as jubilant crowds chanted his name and displayed the respect gestures as they shouted “Igwe!”. The atmosphere was euphoric as crowds broke into song and dance.
“We have come to receive your blessings. We will be in Nairobi for our major event where we will officially launch the Azimio la Umoja movement,” said Raila.
After the event, the ODM chief will be accompanied by President Kenyatta for a major rally at Jacaranda grounds to officially mark the start of the joint campaigns for the Azimio la Umoja candidate.
Raila said that after the rally, they will intensify their vote-hunt and ensure that all regions across the country back his Azimio la Umoja initiative and his presidential bid.
He said he was ready for a duel with his opponents whom he said had been chest-thumping.
Among the issues he said his administration would prioritise in the quest to change the country were fighting corruption, which he said had dragged the country back several decades.
Raila sensationally claimed that Dr Ruto was getting his funds from government coffers and vowed to seal all the loopholes.
“Every day they have been abusing us. They have called us all manner of names and I am now ready to face him,” said Raila.
He said his administration would jail all leaders involved in graft and vowed to change the country’s economy to complete the country’s economic liberation.
The ODM chief also vouched for his medical healthcare plan dubbed “Babacare” which he described as a game-changer that will enable Kenyans to access healthcare with ease.
He also rooted for his economic plans, including the social welfare programme, creation of jobs, prioritising value addition, and revamping businesses.
He was accompanied by several leaders, including six governors and more than 25 MPs and a host of senators.
The leaders claimed that they had locked almost all regions to back Raila’s bid for presidency and challenged his supporters to ensure that all eligible voters cast their ballot.
Nyanza governors led by James Ongwae (Kisii) and Kisumu’s Anyang’ Nyong’o said they would ensure that the Nyanza backyard vote by almost 99 per cent in favour of Raila.
“As a region, we have now given you the mandate to look for votes in other parts of the country. As the people of Nyanza, we have released you to Kenyans,” said Ongwae.
Raila’s allies from other parts of the country, including governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said they had locked their regions for Raila even as they challenged his supporters to ensure that there is no voter apathy.
In Nyanza, the leaders are keen to battle voter apathy that has affected Raila’s performance in the past.
Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga said their journey had just started.