ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday met his close allies in a closely guarded meeting in Naivasha even as he plans campaign stops in Rift Valley next week.
Mr Odinga reportedly met members of the technical team that is championing his presidential bid at the Great Rift Valley Lodge for talks that end on Saturday.
Sources said Mr Odinga’s anticipated announcement of his candidacy later this month is featuring in the talks that reportedly also involve leaders from other parties who back him to succeed President Kenyatta.
However, none of the ODM officials were willing to discuss the meeting’s agenda or who is in attendance.
Next week, Mr Odinga will head to Deputy President William Ruto’s stronghold, Rift Valley, as the battle for the region’s 4.5 million votes intensifies.
Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi has also announced he is in the race to succeed President Kenyatta but he is widely expected to back the former premier.
Mr Odinga will begin his tour in Turkana whose governor Josphat Nanok, who was ousted as ODM vice chairman, has defected to Dr Ruto’s camp.
The ODM leader will then take his unity campaign to Eldoret where delegates from West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties will converge.
The next meeting is planned in Nakuru where delegates from Kericho, Bomet and Nakuru counties will assemble.
Mr Odinga will then head to Meru for a meeting with delegates from Meru, Embu and Tharaka-Nithi, then Ukambani, Mount Kenya West and a final meeting in Nairobi.
“All these (tours) have to be completed in October," Mr Odinga said on Tuesday, adding he will then make his declaration.
“Azimio la Umoja was launched in Nakuru and it is a call for Kenyans to unite so that we can forget our tribal differences and build what we call 'Ukenya' to emulate the former President of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who taught Tanzanian the importance of unity," Mr Odinga said.
However, during past meetings in Nyanza, Western, Kajiado, Coast and North Eastern, delegates have endorsed him for the presidency.
In a charm offensive of Rift Valley, which is the nation’s bread basket, Mr Odinga has promised his administration will grant subsidies to lower production costs for farmers if elected to high office.
In the region, Mr Odinga is banking on Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and ODM Devolution Secretary Kipkorir Menjo to market his bid in Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet counties.
Mr Tolgos yesterday told the Nation that he is Mr Odinga’s point-man in the region.
“Some of these people from our region claiming that Raila is not a good person supported him in 2007 when some of us were in the periphery. Now, I am fully behind Raila’s candidacy because what he would have done for our people in 2007 had he clinched power is the same things he will do next year when elected since he has not changed,” said Mr Tolgos.
Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchori yesterday said together with Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, they have come up with a team that includes Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), senator Judy Pareno (nominated) and former governor David Nkedianye to drum up support for Mr Odinga.
“Raila enjoys good support from our people. People understand his agenda despite some leaders wavering,” he said.
Loima MP Jeremiah Lomorukai said ODM has not lost ground in Turkana.
“Nanok thought that if he associates with DP’s team, ODM is going to die. He is in for a rude shock,” he said.