Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday went on a charm offensive in the Mt Kenya region to galvanise his support, even as he hinted at considering a female running mate for his 2022 presidential bid.
Mr Musyoka started his offensive in the region with a series of meetings targeting governors he hopes will be instrumental in his entry into the vote-rich region.
Terming the meetings “political”, the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principal separately met three governors from the region including Martin Wambora (Embu), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), as he seeks their support to “scale the mountain”.
Mr Musyoka, who, together with Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Gideon Moi of Kanu have coalesced under OKA, held a meeting with Mr Wambora in Nairobi before he flew to Kirinyaga for another meeting with Ms Waiguru at her Kagio residence in Ndia.
He later held discussions with Mr Njuki, the Tharaka Nithi county chief in Chuka, joining a list of other contenders, including Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mr Mudavadi, who have been crisscrossing the region in the hunt for votes.
The Wiper leader hinted at picking a female running mate in 2022 as he met Ms Waiguru, revisiting his 2007 presidential bid when he picked the former Funyula MP, Dr Julia Ojiambo, as his running mate.
50-50 gender leadership
“You remember in 2007 I picked Julia Ojiambo as my deputy … there is no harm in doing it again and again. I can do the same even this time,” he said as he asked Ms Waiguru to join OKA.
“In our manifestos, we advocate 50-50 gender leadership,” he added.
He said his journey to win the mountain region has started, adding that his meetings are also geared towards expanding the alliance, by winning over a leader from the region to join the team.
“Today (yesterday), I began my trip by climbing the mountain, which I’m actually part of. Tseikuru, where I come from, enables me to climb the mountain from the East, and we hope to work together in the coming election,” Mr Musyoka told journalists at Wilson Airport in Nairobi where he was accompanied by Mr Wambora and a host of other Wiper leaders.
The Wiper leader explained that they were keen to have Ms Waiguru join OKA as a co-principal so that the region feels included in the alliance.
“We want Governor Waiguru to join OKA because some of our critical observation is that we want senior lady leadership at that level of a co-principal,” said Mr Musyoka.
“So she may want to join OKA and thereafter our members shall decide who becomes flag bearer and the running mate,” he added.
Yesterday, Ms Waiguru promised to consult widely before making any political move.
"I’m in the process of introspection and after consultation, I will announce the political direction to take," she said even as she lauded OKA for its principle of 50-50 representation in its manifestos.
Women in leadership"OKA recognises the role played by women in leadership and that is something I like about it," she stated.
Mr Musyoka was accompanied by his deputy Farah Maalim, Wiper vice chairman Mutula Kilozo Jnr and MPs; Robert Mbui (Kathiani and Deputy Minority Leader), Ben Momanyi (Borabu), Agnes Kavindu (Machakos Woman Rep), Jesica Mbalu (Kibwezi East), Irene Kasalu (Kitui Woman Rep), Edith Nyenze (Kitui West), Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South), Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti), Charles Nguna (Mwingi West) and politicians Prof Philip Kaloki and Rahab Ndambuki.
The Wiper noted that OKA emancipates the unity of the country under the clarion call of “one Kenya, one people."
“We are going to unite the Mountain because it’s ahead of us. Some people think it’s a hunting ground but they are just Kenyans and every corner of this republic is a hunting ground,” he said.
He observed that he’s not new to the region having served as retired President Mwai Kibaki’s vice during the Grand Coalition government.
Mr Musyoka pointed out that whereas he was not asking for payment of any debt from the region, “it should be remembered who had to take the bull by the horn,” in reference to his joining the Kibaki administration at the height of the 2007-8 Post Election Violence (PEV).
“We are out to remind the country that when the chips are down and the country is faced with a crisis, who is man or woman enough to stand for the best interest in this country,” he added. Presidential candidate Maalim reiterated that OKA will front one presidential candidate in next year’s election.
“We have seen how developed countries conduct their democracies. You will see Republican and Democratic candidates carry out their campaigns fighting for the ticket but at the end of the day they come up with one candidate. That’s exactly what OKA is doing right now.
All our principals are potential candidates but at the end of the day we will come up with one candidate,” Mr Maalim said.
Mr Wambora said all presidential candidates were welcomed in Mt Kenya region. “I can assure you we will work as a team. As chairman of CoG (Council of Governors) we have agreed that we shall be welcoming all presidential aspirants so that you can tell us what you are going to do for us,” Mr Wambora said.
Mr Njuki described Mr Musyoka as a neighbour and friend of the community.
"This gentleman is a friend and a neighbour so we will give him special treatment," he said even as he called for the need to give all presidential aspirants an opportunity to sell their agenda.