Leaders from the Coast and northern Kenya counties have pledged their support for ODM leader Raila Odinga to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The leaders from Isiolo, Mombasa, Wajir, Garissa and Kilifi said Mr Odinga had fervently fought for democracy and devolution that the country is enjoying today and is at the forefront in uniting Kenyans through his Azimio la Umoja initiative.
Led by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, the politicians said Mr Odinga is the man to fix the ills bedevilling the country including corruption, unemployment and the high cost of living.
During a fundraiser to construct Garbatulla Jamia mosque organised by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo last weekend, the leaders said the former prime minister had in the past proven to have the country’s interests at heart.
“Mr Odinga has fought for Kenya’s democracy and has country’s interest at heart,” Ms Dullo said.
Mr Odinga enjoys immense support in northern Kenya with majority of the MPs and governors throwing their weight behind his candidature.
Only governors Josphat Nanok (Turkana), Mohammud Ali (Marsabit) and Ali Roba of Marsabit have declared their support for Deputy President William Ruto.
Wait for Uhuru’s directions
Garissa Senator Abdulkadir Haji and Nairobi County Assembly Majority Leader Abdi Guyo said the region is solidly behind President Kenyatta and will follow the political direction he will give them.
“I am supporting President Uhuru and he is the one telling us the way we will go. I am supporting Mr Odinga and I will vote for him,” Mr Guyo said, while warning Muslims against supporting politicians blindly and instead demand to be told how they will benefit from government.
The leaders demanded an official apology from Dr Ruto over what they said is demeaning women after a picture of an elderly woman carried on a wheelbarrow during his recent rally in Embu went viral.
They said it was unfortunate that the Tangatanga brigade had resorted to disrespecting Kenyans for political clout and asked Mt Kenya residents to wake up and demand respect for their mothers.
The picture elicited mixed reactions with Dr Ruto’s supporters saying it showed the solid support the leader is enjoying in Mt Kenya region with those allied to Mr Odinga terming it disrespectful to hoist high a woman seated on a wheelbarrow in public.
“I pity my Mt Kenya brothers and sisters for allowing their mothers to be disrespected. I am so saddened by the incident and we will not allow women to be treated that way,” Ms Gedi said.
Mvita MP Nassir Abdulswamad dared the leaders supporting DP Ruto to carry their mothers to political rallies on wheelbarrows if they are not harbouring bad motives.
“You must respect our mothers. Why aren’t their mothers being carried on wheelbarrows?” the MP posed.
The leaders told off DP Ruto, accusing him of taking advantage of poor Kenyans to advance his political agenda instead of helping them while he is in government.
“Kenyans must shun leaders who keep reminding them that they are poor whereas the leaders themselves are rich,” Governor Joho said.
They accused the DP of hypocrisy for attacking the government that he is part of and taking credit for its success but distancing himself from its failures, saying he cannot be separate himself from the Jubilee government.
“You cannot separate Ruto from Uhuru government. It is hypocritical for him to take credit for Jubilee successes but blame the President for its failures,” Mr Joho said.
The deputy president has on several occasions blamed the 2018 ‘Handshake’ between his boss and Mr Odinga for his woes especially for being side-lined in running of the government and blamed Mr Odinga for delayed delivery of Jubilee Party promises especially the Big Four Agenda.
Stop blaming Raila
Mr Joho, who is the ODM deputy party leader, said DP Ruto should stop blaming Mr Odinga for his woes but should instead tell Kenyans what he has done for them as the deputy president for the last nine years.
He rubbished claims that Mr Odinga had taken over DP Ruto’s roles saying the former premier only joined hands with Mr Kenyatta for the nation’s peace and tranquillity.
“Raila is not in government. We only decided to support the government of the day for the country to enjoy peace and tranquillity. Did you want the protests to continue?” he posed.
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said Muslims must be careful whom they elect president in the 2022 general elections, saying it was sad that DP Ruto would publicly say Kenya is a Christian nation.
Together with Mombasa Woman Rep Asha Hussein Mohamed, the leaders said the presidency should not be a preserve of two communities but should rotate around all tribes and religious groups.
Mr Abdulswamad exuded confidence that Mr Odinga will take over from President Kenyatta but insisted that the region must be part of the government and not mere followers.
Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua and Jomvu MP Badi Twalib rallied Governor Joho to succeed Mr Odinga and demanded for a senior position for him in a Mr Odinga government.
“We are confident Mr Odinga will be the president but Joho must be on the cake sharing table to push for our interests,” Mr Twalib said.
The leaders raised Sh17 million which will go towards the construction of the mosque in Garbatulla.
In attendance was former Isiolo governor Godana Doyo, Nominated MCA Sumeya Bishar and Isiolo North MP hopeful Abdilatif Boru.