Businessman Jimi Wanjigi may have to rethink his strategy as he takes the battle for the ODM presidential ticket to Raila Odinga’s doorsteps, if statements by party officials are anything to go by.
A day before he starts his tour of Nyanza, ODM officials in the region said their endorsement of Mr Odinga as the ODM flagbearer last month stands.
In a message to all the ODM county and chairpersons in Nyanza, the party maintained that it was a tradition to notify grassroots officials of any visit by a national guest.
Nyanza ODM Coordinating Committee secretary, Philip Makabongo, said Mr Wanjigi’s visit remains speculation.
“We have endorsed our party leader for presidency and we are just asking Mr Wanjigi to be sober in his utterances to avoid inciting others or create tension among supporters,” said Mr Makabongo.
Kisumu ODM Coordinating Committee chairman, Ayiecho Olweny, also denied knowledge of the visit
He asked Mr Wanjigi to say what he has done for the region.
“I am not aware of the visit. I am just getting it from the media and that is why I am wondering how he will be getting those delegates here because I am the county coordinator,” said Mr Olweny.
Mr Wanjigi jets in Kisumu on Thursday morning for a four-day packed visit of the Nyanza counties where he plans to lay out his grassroots plans for the region, engaging various players who have teamed up with him in his political ambitions.
After jetting at the Kisumu International Airport where he will address the press, Mr Wanjigi will proceed to Homa Bay County for an engagement to popularise his candidature for the party’s presidential ticket, and on Friday visit Migori and Nyamira counties for the same.
On Saturday, he will storm Mr Odinga’s Siaya backyard where he is expected to have some engagements, including a meeting with the leadership of the Luo Council of Elders (Ker),
Mr Wanjigi, though an ally of Mr Odinga, is on record telling him to drop his presidential ambitions, stating that the Luo kingpin has nothing more to offer Kenyans and that ODM needs to refresh itself for 2022.
He is seeking to take over the ODM leadership and is pushing for free and fair nominations and wants the party to re-open the nomination application for those seeking its presidential ticket ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Mr Wanjigi has said he will run against Mr Odinga despite their friendship, and that both will compete for the party leadership and ticket in a show of democracy.
On Wednesday evening, ODM officials said Mr Wanjigi is free to tour the region, but told him that he should respect the stand the region took at Sikri where the ODM leader was unanimously endorsed for presidency by the six counties of Nyanza.