ODM leader Raila Odinga has said he’s confident of winning the hearts and minds of a majority of voters in Mt Kenya to flip the region in his fifth stab at the presidency.
In a show of might in Meru County yesterday, the former Prime Minister addressed thousands of supporters in roadside rallies attended by political heavyweights from across Kenya.
Accompanied by leaders led by Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Mr Odinga wowed crowds as he popularised his ‘Azimio la Umoja’ campaign.
His power parade across the mountain also had governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Evans Ongwae (Kisii) and Ann Kananu (Nairobi), who all pleaded with voters to support the ‘Handshake’.
Jubilee Vice-Chairman and President Kenyatta’s close ally David Murathe rallied party officials behind the ODM leader, who has had a huge challenge with Mt Kenya voters in past elections due to misconceptions.
Behind the scenes, MPs Mpuru Aburi (Eala), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Maoka Maore (Igembe North), Pamela Odhiambo (Migori), Junet Mohamed (Suna East) and Esther Passaris (Nairobi) pulled the political strings.
Thousands turned up in Maua, Maili Tatu, Kangeta, Muthara, Kianjai and Meru town, where Mr Odinga reiterated his resolve to start an economic revolution that policy analysts say could lift millions out of poverty.
“We want to bring an economic revolution starting from the bottom. We will use the youth to transform the economy. We will give seed capital to the youth to do business and build industries to spur the economy,” Mr Odinga said to a thunderous reception.
The former PM has intensified campaigns in the region after his recent meetings with Mt Kenya Foundation members and youth leaders. Today he heads to Tharaka-Nithi and Embu counties.
He pledged to work with the Party of National Unity (PNU), the newly formed Devolution Empowerment Party and other political vehicles to form a formidable union ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“There’s no limit to the parties we can cooperate with ahead of the election. We will fix the loopholes through which a lot of money is lost and ensure it’s used to support those who have no income,” Mr Odinga said.
“We’re already in a pact with PNU and will soon sign an agreement with Jubilee Party. I’m also ready to work with Governor Kiraitu [Murungi]’s party.”
The leaders drummed up support for Mr Odinga, saying, he was the best placed person to succeed President Kenyatta.
The rallies were organised by Mr Murungi, who is has so far not attended Deputy President William Ruto’s rallies in the region.
Mr Munya’s allies had earlier threatened to boycott the meetings, accusing the governor of hijacking the programme. Their concerns were, however, addressed in time in a show of unity.
“Mr Odinga is a friend of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi and we believe he will help open up the market once he gets to State House. We want to know what he has in store for the Meru community,” Mr Murungi said.
Mr Munya said Mt Kenya was ready to back the former Prime Minister and make his presidency a reality in 2022.
Governor Muriithi said all political parties in the region would rally behind the ODM leader in a bid to unite the nation and heal past wounds.