What you need to know:
- Kioni says Jubilee will unleash a new political strategy to halt UDA's influence in Mt Kenya.
- He says recent defections from the party are an opportunity to identify new leaders.
The Jubilee Party headquarters in Pangani is a beehive of activity, an indication that elections are just around the corner. Inside the compound, young and old aspirants move from one office to another seeking to meet various deadlines.
We arrive at about 11:20am at the party’s offices for an interview with the new secretary-general Jeremiah Kioni. But for 20 minutes, we are not allowed into the compound by hawk-eyed security men dressed in black suits. They keep us waiting until they confirm our appointment.
Later, we are ushered into Mr Kioni’s office. In his first interview as the new secretary-general of Jubilee Party, Mr Kioni speaks to Saturday Nation about the plans of the outfit, the exodus, when they expect to end UDA’s influence in Mt Kenya, Raila Odinga’s candidature and the spat between President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
As the new secretary-general, what is your immediate plan for the party?
Our plan as the August elections draw closer is to have the numbers. We want a party that has numbers on the floor of both Houses so that any government will consult us from time to time. This will enable us engage the government of the day in a structured manner.
We want to ensure the party is back into the national limelight and is able to articulate it’s achievements. We also want to ensure that we are actively involved in the activities in constituencies. We are basically reactivating services across the country.
How many seats does Jubilee want to clinch in the coming polls?
We are targeting at least 100.
What will you do differently?
The party will be available to everyone, especially at the branch level so that members can easily consult us. We will go to the branch level and rural areas physically to meet the people. What is important to us is that we are climbing the mountain and those who claimed to have climbed it are now coming down.
It is just a matter of time before things change. Infact by May, Jubilee will be ahead in Mt Kenya. I'm keen on nurturing new leaders in the party; we want young people to have a pathway to leadership.
Was Tuju, your predecessor, forced out of Jubilee?
He spoke for himself and said that he wants to engage in other things after successfully serving the party for a number of years.
Majority of MPs elected on Jubilee ticket have since decamped to DP William Ruto’s UDA. Does this worry you?
The defections are an opportunity to identify new leaders, especially in Mt Kenya. It is an opportunity for us to get leaders with a different culture. Right now we have people who have left us engaging in name-calling.
We want people who are able to persuade voters in a decent manner even if we hold a different view. We have many people who are aspiring to be governors, senators, MPs and MCAs, who are seeking the party’s ticket.
When did the rain start beating Jubilee?
This party has not been beaten by the rain; look at the scorecard, we were able to demonstrate in Sagana the many projects we have done. We would not be able to achieve that much if we spent our time politicking. If we had given attention to the utterances by DP Ruto, we would not have been able to deliver.
How did the President lose his political backyard?
Who says he has lost it? It is the same people who are bitter with us. If they had the confidence that the President had lost control of his backyard, they would not be making the many trips there. You will see in the coming days that they thought they had made forays, but things will change.
Do you think it is too late for the President to woo leaders in Mt Kenya?
If he had started earlier, it would have been at the expense of implementing government policies. What was better? To ensure that roads, water and electricity continue being connected or to spend all the time politicking? It is never too late. Remember we have another four months before elections. There is enough time to talk to people and see what needs to be done.
Why do you think the DP has continued to stay in government despite his constant attacks on president and him defecting to UDA?
He wants to be kicked out because he is a specialist in seeking sympathy. We will not kick him out because that may destabilise the country. The President has a clear mind on this and he does not want anything that will stop him from delivering on what he promised Kenyans.
The deputy president has continuously been in the disruptive corner, literally throwing words at the President, who is his boss. It was his scheme to disrupt the party and make it collapse and ensure that no one wants to associate with it.
If that would have succeeded, his plan was to have everything that Jubilee had in UDA but with the calmness of the President, he was allowed to imagine that he is alone in the political field. But now it is clear that there is not only a political vehicle competing with him but will overtake him in all the regions that Jubilee had in 2017. They will all be reclaimed.
If the President had concentrated on dealing with the deputy president, Kenyans would have suffered. But he has remained calm and he called us to order.
When did the President and his deputy stopped working together?
The two have never worked together. It was pure pretence.
Even the white shirts, matching ties, the chemistry...?
The President has been working alone. Even the fundraisings that the DP was going to round the country claiming that the President had sent him, those were all lies. The President never sent him anywhere. If the President sent him, how come sometimes his donations were less than that of the DP? He has been lying to Kenyans.
But the DP has blamed the handshake for the sour relationship with the President...
The opposite is true. Without the handshake, there would have been no government and country. It is common sense that one of things you do when you become President is to reach out to your opponents, so that there is peace in the country and be able to deliver on the promises you made to the people.
The President did the right thing to talk to Mr Raila Odinga for whom we will remain grateful to forever because despite the difficulties of the 2017 polls, he was still able to work with us for the national good. That is a mark of statesmanship and that is how you identify leaders. Leaders are not identified by how you can move the crowd. It is these small things that say one can run the country.
Tomorrow in the Sunday Nation:The burning question of Mt Kenya producing a deputy for Raila amid the new Kalonzo matrix, parliamentary purge and poaching UDA candidates for August polls