Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga has dragged his main competitor Deputy President William Ruto into the debate on the high cost of living.
Mr Odinga was with his running mate Martha Karua as they crisscrossed Nyeri County yesterday. He said Dr Ruto contributed to skyrocketing food prices in 2009 when he (Mr Odinga) was the Prime Minister and Ruto was Agriculture minister.
Speaking at Karatina in Mathira constituency, Mr Odinga told residents how the country lacked enough maize and how the cabinet resolved to buy maize from abroad and how it was diverted.
“I was the Prime Minister and I oversaw buying of maize from South Africa which was to be sold to local millers at Sh1,600 but Dr Ruto stopped the programme.”
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“He used his cronies who bought maize at Sh1,500 from the National Cereals and Produce Board and sold it to millers at Sh2,500. He has no solution and is part of the problem,” Mr Odinga said.
The ODM leader said as a result of what was happening in the Agriculture docket, he fired Dr Ruto only for President Mwai Kibaki to have mercy on him and return him to the government.
But he said if elected, he shall lower the cost of living in his first 100 days in office.
Mr Odinga started his campaigns at Chaka town in Kieni before proceeding to Karatina in Mathira, the home turf of the DP’s running mate, Rigathi Gachagua.
They then proceeded to Mukurweini town, Othaya town and Nyeri town.
Presenting his team as a clean one, Mr Odinga and Ms Karua urged the electorate to reject the DP at the ballot, saying Kenya Kwanza doesn’t have a track record of delivering services. Ms Karua told Karatina residents she was the best bet and would protect their resources given her track record.
“My grandmother was married in Mathira and so I’m also a local in this area. My brother should not be worried. I will protect him if we get to power,” she said.
While urging residents to come out in large numbers to vote for them, Ms Karua said Mr Odinga, compared to Dr Ruto, is mature and sober in politics.
“The remarks our competitors have been making indicate they are too temperamental to lead this country. They should be allowed to mature politically before being given a chance to lead this nation.”
Ms Karua said Mr Odinga’s basket is full of goodies and he will not punish anybody, including their competitors, saying they are only political rivals, not enemies.
She said Mr Odinga has climbed the mountain, and exuded confidence that the region will overwhelmingly vote for him.
“I’m humbly pleading with the region that voting for Mr Odinga is voting for Ms Karua and vice versa. Even the people from Nyanza have never voted for Ms Karua but they will vote for me for the first time,” she said.
The Narc-Kenya leader challenged their competitors to indicate their track record and chided Dr Ruto for disrespecting his boss.
“If you can’t respect your boss you can’t respect Kenyans. If he can threaten to slap his boss, what can’t he do to Kenyans?”
Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth accused Dr Ruto of misleading Kenyans that his relationship with the President went sour after the Handshake. “In his own admission, he said he wanted to slap his boss. That was in 2017 but the Handshake happened in 2018.”
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho rallied the Mt Kenya region to support their son, President Uhuru Kenyatta, from the attacks from Dr Ruto and his team by rejecting him at the ballot.
“Communities must protect and support their leaders. It’s a lie that Dr Ruto made Uhuru president because it is Uhuru who made Dr Ruto who he is today,” Mr Joho said.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega said there is a world of difference between Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza presidential candidates, especially between Ms Karua and Mr Gachagua.
This is the first time Mr Odinga and Ms Karua conducted a joint campaign in Nyeri and the second time from Murang’a’s political tour which they made last month.
They are in the Mt Kenya region for three days, where they will be in Kiambu today and in Kirinyaga tomorrow.
They were accompanied by candidates seeking elective positions through Azimio-One Kenya parties.
They included Senator Ephraim Maina who is vying for Nyeri governor, and Priscilla Nyokabi.
Mr Odinga is making inroads in Mt Kenya a day after Dr Ruto completed his tour in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.
The two have been following each other in the region in efforts to erase the gains made by each other as they seek to attract Mt Kenya votes.