The Orange Democratic Movement will open up applications for its presidential ticket in the 2022 elections after the grassroots elections, giving its leader -- former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and businessman Jimi Wanjigi a chance to battle for the seat that had attracted deputy party leaders Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya.
The Orange party’s National Elections Board (NEB) told the Nation that it has not processed the applications of the Mombasa governor -- who recently said he would step down in favour of Mr Odinga -- and that of his Kakamega counterpart, which it received in April.
“I have not received Jimi Wanjigi’s application nor have I received that of Raila Odinga. I had not closed the application … Right now I am doing party grassroots elections, when I am done, I will then get into the business of getting party presidential candidates. If they will not be interested, I have two candidates, the board will pick one,” ODM elections board chairperson Catherine Mumma said in an interview with the Nation.
The board had on January 21 sent out a notice declaring the commencement of nominations for ODM presidential candidate, with a deadline of February 26 later extended to March 31.
Yesterday, Ms Mumma said the presidential nomination was suspended to focus on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and now that it has been settled, she planned to open applications.
Although the former PM has not yet declared officially that he will be making a fifth stab at the country’s top job, developments after BBI, which he jointly pushed for with President Uhuru Kenyatta, show that he is laying the ground to launch his State House bid.
When the application will be opened, it will provide a window for Mr Odinga and Mr Wanjigi to submit their credentials for the 2022 race.
Ms Mumma disclosed that the elections board had concluded consultations in 28 counties, where some have finished elections, while others are ongoing, noting that the process should be ‘all-inclusive non-adversarial’.
“The deadline for each county is agreed upon during the consultative meetings. At no given time has the NEB given a deadline for all counties to conclude the grassroots elections,” said Ms Mumma.
ODM chairman and also Suba South MP John Mbadi had said the former PM was free to apply for the party’s presidential ticket.
“There is no legal requirement in our Constitution or nomination rule that at such a particular time, the last person should submit his/her application, the last week deadline was just a procedural matter by the party’s National Elections Board (NEB), it does not affect anything,” said Mr Mbadi, who is also the Minority Leader in the National Assembly.
Both Mr Odinga and Mr Wanjigi have been crisscrossing the country popularising themselves for the presidential race.
Mr Wanjigi’s strategy is to net as many delegates as possible across the country to support his bid.
"I am confident that I will win a good majority of these delegates because the time for fresh leadership in the party and in the country has come. I will, however, support Raila should I lose in a free and fair nomination" he said.
On the other hand, the former Prime Minister has received a boost after he was endorsed by Nyanza, the Maa and Coast, with Mr Joho bowing out of the race.
Governors Joho, Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Dhadho Godhana (Tana River), as well as MPs Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Ali Wario (Garsen), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze) and Ken Chonga (Kilifi South) and Woman reps Zuleikha Hassan (Kwale) and Asha Hussein (Mombasa) declared their support for Mr Odinga.
In case Mr Odinga will be vying, he will battle it out with his deputy Mr Oparanya and Mr Wanjigi.
Mr Oparanya yesterday told the Nation that he had not opted out of the presidential race and he was optimistic of being the ODM flagbearer.
“I have not pulled out of the race. When we support Raila, we do so because he is the party leader and Raila himself has not declared that he wants to be president. What he is doing is to strengthen the party. My application for the ODM presidential ticket stands,” he said.
The former premier wants Kenya to refocus on skills identification for the return of the 'Made in Kenya' brand.
He specifically wants formation of a human resources development agency that will identify skilled youth, organise domestic skills competitions and send the best to compete globally.
"The end result of this deliberate policy of rural transformation that makes rural life more liveable and migration to cities unnecessary ... will be the creation of functional and rich villages where people have money in their pockets and lead dignified and decent rural life in Kenya. It has been done in other countries. I believe it can be done in Kenya," Mr Odinga said in a two-page document posted on his social media pages recently.
Mr Odinga first ran for the country's top seat in 1997, then in 2002, 2007, 2013 and in 2017.