What you need to know:
- He told off ODM officials who termed his-four visit a private one, saying they are jittery about his growing influence among the party’s supporters countrywide.
Businessman and presidential hopeful Jimi Wanjigi has lashed out at a section of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party officials, who have distanced themselves from his Nyanza tour, which began on Thursday.
He said he does not need any official invitation or permission from them to visit the region in his bid to popularise his presidential ambition.
Mr Wanjigi arrived in Kisumu County at about 10am and addressed a press conference at the Kisumu International Airport.
He insisted that he will continue going on tours to popularise his candidature for the party’s presidential ticket, since he is a lifetime member of the orange party, led by politician Raila Odinga.
He told off ODM officials who termed his-four visit a private one, saying they are jittery about his growing influence among the party’s supporters countrywide.
"I saw some letter [doing the rounds] saying ODM officials are not aware of my visit. Why do I need permission to visit Nyanza or any other place in this country?”
“This is a free country and I am an ODM member who will tour the region and popularise the party the best way I know how. I am a die-hard member of ODM so nobody should restrict my movement. This is democracy.”
In a statement on Wednesday evening, ODM’s Nyanza coordinating committee Secretary, Mr Philip Makabongo, said Mr Wanjigi’s visit remains a speculation to them.
“There has been speculation of a visit by senior party members from the national office. Kindly note that the national office is not aware of a visit by any guest to the Nyanza region and any member participating in such programmes is doing so at a personal level,” said Mr Makabongo.
The ODM official added that the national office usually alerts them of such visits and asks them to accompany such leaders when necessary.
The ODM branch officials from Nyanza claimed they had not been informed of Mr Wanjigi’s visit, but maintained he was free to tour the region.
ODM officials asked Mr Wanjigi to respect the stand the region took at Sikri, where Mr Odinga was unanimously endorsed for the presidency by the six counties of Nyanza.
In his address at the airport, Mr Wanjigi said his aim is to campaign as the best bet in ODM, beat other competitors and bring change to the country and root for democracy in the party, even though he is already facing challenges from within.
He said the groups he will meet in his tour to Homa Bay, Migori, Nyamira, Kisumu and Siaya are of ODM members and that he hopes officials will also attend the meetings.
"We are going to reinvigorate this party and I don't care what anyone thinks or says. These people are fearful that the wave coming within the party will wipe them out," said Mr Wanjigi.
Fuel prices matter
The businessman also delved into the hiked fuel prices debate, blaming it on bad governance.
Mr Wanjigi compared the current price of Sh134 per litre of petrol to the price of Sh96 in April 2013, and Sh112 five years later, saying it was due to newly introduced taxes.
He accused the government of burdening Kenyans with high taxation after “wasting” billions of shillings on the Standard Gauge Railway, which to him is a “white elephant”.
"We are paying heavily for the Railway Development Levy to support the SGR. Only good governance is going to save Kenya through an economic revolution that will sweep all the leaders who are to blame for all this," he said.
He also pointed the finger at MPs, saying they approved the high taxes.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority was also given authority to increase the prices of electricity and petroleum, killing the free market, he said.
"MPs cannot now blame the executive. They approved it. This burden of fuel prices means the cost of our food basket, which is 50 percent of our income, is the second highest in the world, and will still increase.”
Mr Wanjigi is set to meet leaders in Homa Bay on Thursday and those in Migori and Nyamira on Friday before heading to Mr Odinga’s Siaya backyard on Saturday.
He is also scheduled to meet the Ker (leader) of the Luo Council of Elders, Mr Willis Otondi, and will wind up his tour on Sunday by attending a service at St Teresa’s Catholic Church in Kibuye, Kisumu county.