The Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja coalition party will be launched tomorrow, Saturday February 26, setting off what should be the former Prime Minister’s most consequential State House run.
Basking in the glory of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement on Wednesday, Mr Odinga’s three-days of glory started yesterday with endorsement by his party’s top organ, the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the Party of National Unity (PNU), and a clear indication by the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) that it will be part of his team.
OKA consists of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi, Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua and United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Cyrus Jirongo.
Mr Jirongo’s party delegates, at the National Delegates Convention (NDC) held at Multimedia University and attended by Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Moi yesterday, resolved to have UDP, and OKA, by extension, move with speed and enter into a coalition deal with Azimio la Umoja.
Today, the ODM party’s National Governing Council (NGC) is scheduled to meet ahead of the party’s NDC at the Kasarani Indoor Gymnasium tomorrow to ratify Mr Odinga’s candidature and approve the formation of Azimio la Umoja.
Consequently, Mr Odinga will today attend the Jubilee party’s NDC at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to be presided over by Jubilee party leader, President Kenyatta, where the ruling party will formally back his bid in the August 9 elections, and thus give the Head of State the green light to hit the road on campaigns for him.
OKA to Azimio?
Yesterday, Mr Musyoka, the de facto OKA leader, gave the strongest indication yet of the alliance joining Azimio la Umoja.
Speaking at the UDP meeting, the Wiper leader said OKA and Azimio were all premised on unity of the country and the fight against corruption, adding that the two outfits had the interests of Kenyans at heart.
“If I heard correctly what Azimio has been saying, it looks like we are singing the same language of national unity,” Mr Musyoka said, signaling an impending deal even as he called for honest engagements.
He was speaking right after Mr Moi, another OKA principal, who had demanded what he called structured talks.
"We want structured dialogue in a manner transparent that brings confidence to our people and those we lead, and to Kenyans," Mr Moi said.
He, however, ruled out any working arrangement with Deputy President William Ruto, adding that OKA is premised on zero-tolerance to corruption.
For Mr Jirongo, the entry to Azimio was as good as confirmed.
"I accept the resolution by this NDC that OKA moves with speed to enter into a coalition with Azimio la Umoja. Any further lingering only causes us confusion. The sooner this agreement is done, the better," Mr Jirongo said.
UDP was ready to sign the agreement, he said, and announced that OKA would attend the Azimio la Umoja launch at Kasarani tomorrow.
Ms Karua, who is out of the country, did not attend the UDP meeting, but was represented by Prof Gitile Naituli, who said the Narc Kenya party was firmly in OKA.
Mr Odinga said there was an urgent need for unity in the country, noting that “great things happen when we come together”.
“That is the vision of Azimio la Umoja. We are determined to create the political and ideological unity that we require to confront the problems afflicting our people,” the ODM leader said.
He added: “The Messiah came on earth and left over 2,000 years ago. There is no Messiah here in Kenya or anywhere else on earth. No single man or woman can claim to be able to single-handedly fix the many problems facing this nation. We have to do it together.”
Fight against graft
Yesterday, Mr Odinga and the OKA principals, who read from the same script, trained their guns on DP Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA), accusing it of plundering the country’s resources through corruption while perfecting the culture of handouts through ill-gotten wealth.
In his speech, Mr Odinga took no prisoners on the threats facing the country, accusing the DP and his fellow alliance principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula of being part of the country’s problems.
He recalled that when the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) took over in 2003, the country’s economy was growing at below zero percent, and that the DP and members of his camp had been part of the mess of the previous regime.
“We had hit rock bottom. I want to remind the people of Kenya that when the National Rainbow Coalition took over in 2003, our economy was growing at zero point something percent. We had hit rock bottom.
“Donors had cut funding to Kenya. Corruption was our best performing industry. Strangely, some of the people who handed to us an economy running at zero percent in 2003 are now lecturing us on how badly our economy is doing and how good they can be in fixing it. What a shame. What a lie,” Mr Odinga said.
He went on: “All the Kenya Kwanza principals were in or were associated with the government that in 2003 handed over to Kenyans an economy that was stuck at zero per cent, a dilapidated infrastructure, a collapsing education system, a dead health sector and a horrible international image. What can they fix now? What have they ever fixed in the past?”
He, however, defended President Kenyatta, whom the late President Daniel Moi chose as his successor in 2002.
“When he (Kenyatta) was being tasked to defend an economy ran to the ground in 2002 as a presidential candidate, he was an outsider. He had hardly been at the centre of acts of commission and omission that led to the mess. The men who were at the centre of that mess and who made him lose the 2002 election, are now deluded and delusional principals in Kenya Kwanza. Just look at the front row at their rallies. They are all seated there, shouting ‘economy’.”
“Unity under the Grand Coalition helped us fix the economy that the post-election violence bequeathed us,” added Mr Odinga.
The ODM leader also pointed out that “my unity and handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 brought stability to our land”.
“It gave the President space to work for Kenyans. It ended the era of blackmail, endless politicking and threats he was being subjected to. The hostage takers fled when the ‘Handshake’ happened, and the country has been able to move forward,” he added, referring to the truce between him and President Kenyatta.
Mr Musyoka said Kenyans know all the corrupt people in the country and will not condone them further.
“For how long, Kenyans, are we going to keep on repeating the same old mistakes? We know all those corrupt people. In fact, the corrupt have been regrouping. You can see them as they move across the length and the breadth of this nation.
“You can see the cartels moving, in support of one candidate or another. They are known because they want to protect their interests, because they want to be part of the next government so they can protect their ill-gotten wealth,” the Wiper leader said.
Mr Musyoka said he was giving notice to the corrupt leaders.
“We will give you a moratorium of exactly six months to refund the money you have stolen. You have stolen our money till children have no jobs, they sleep hungry and yet you bribe them with the same money you have stolen.
“After six months, we will be absolutely ruthless with you, whoever you are. We hope that the wheels of justice will turn as fast as they possibly can to catch up with you so that you will be the example,” Mr Musyoka said.
Munya for running mate
Separately, calls for Mr Odinga to pick Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya as his running mate dominated Thursday's Party of National Unity (PNU) NDC at the Bomas of Kenya.
Mr Munya announced the party’s NEC had resolved to back Mr Odinga presidential bid.
"We have resolved as a party to get into an agreement with the Jubilee Party which will represent our interests in the Azimio la Umoja movement. Jubilee party leader Uhuru Kenyatta will be the one representing us as a party in the movement,” Mr Munya said.
Mr Munya also expressed optimism of being selected as Mr Odinga’s running mate from the Mount Kenya.
“All I ask you delegates is to join Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta in forming the next government. As you have said, I will be your party leader and by the will of God and your prayers, I believe I have all it takes to represent your interests at the top level of government,” Mr Munya said amid applause from the crowd.
Former Sports Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia claimed President Kenyatta prefers Mr Munya given his development record.
“During the Sagana meeting yesterday, our president applauded the work that Munya has done in the agriculture sector. If Raila Odinga is looking for a running mate from the mountain who's hardworking and development oriented, then it should be Munya,” Mr Kinuthia said.
Mr Odinga recalled his long history with the party and its development record during the grand coalition government.
"I have a long history with PNU when I was in the grand coalition government. I worked with Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta as the Finance Minister and we transformed this country economically. That's is where we want to take back this country where all amenities are provided to the citizens,” Mr Odinga said.
On the running mate issue, Mr Odinga applauded Munya’s work in the agricultural sector and said he will tap on his experience.
“We want a country where the farmers have industries to take their produce and make money. Your party leader Peter Munya has been part of the Uhuru government and he has transformed the agricultural sector. I want us to join hands and we will take him to the national level so that we can work to transform this country.”
The meeting also brought together the two PNU leaders who have been involved in a leadership tussle. Governor Ndiritu Muriithi claimed unnamed people were out to divide the party.
“We had some challenges as a party sometimes back but the secretary general and the others solved the issue. Some people are saying that Ndiritu wants to take over the party from Munya but that was not the case. We have agreed to work together as a party.”
Additional reporting by Ndubi Moturi