Raila Odinga, William Ruto

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto. 

| File | Nation Media Group

Ruto and Raila in battle to win Mt Kenya

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga said the region should support BBI as they are determined with President Kenyatta to make Kenya a first world country through the document.
  • Mr Kamau Mweha, a key figure in Mr Odinga’s grassroots meetings in Central, told the Nation that plans were underway to take the ODM leader to the ground in a meet-the-people tour.

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto are locked in a do-or-die battle for the vote-rich Mt Kenya in their bids to occupy State House in 2022.

Both are keen to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political backyard, which, electoral commission data reveals, has 35 out of every 100 voters in Kenya.

Aware of this huge numbers, the fierce rivals are dangling the running mate carrot, with the announcement by Mr Kenyatta of his intention to back a person from a community other than Kikuyu or Kalenjin for President giving Mr Odinga, a Luo, an edge.

But ODM also faces competition from Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who has also been attempting to climb the mountain. Yesterday, Mr Odinga met the Kikuyu Council of Elders for the second time in less than three months, bullish about his chances in Central.

“Where do people get this notion that Kikuyus hate Raila? I am not new in this region and soon I will climb the mountain and they will be surprised,” Mr Odinga said in the meeting also attended by the Githurai business community and a host of pro-Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) MPs.

“The late Kenneth Matiba taught me how to climb the mountain and very soon I will climb it,” he said.

Support BBI

Mr Odinga said the region should support BBI as they are determined with President Kenyatta to make Kenya a first world country through the document.

Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia told the region to ignore the “dynasty” and “hustler” narrative being pushed by Dr Ruto, terming it “nonsense”.

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri told Nation that serious presidential contenders were keen on the Mt Kenya vote because of its numerical strength that would automatically tilt the 2022 vote.

“We have over 8 million votes and we will be king-makers in 2022. Any serious presidential candidate will need to talk to us, and offer us something in his government that makes sense. Ruto assumes we will vote for him for free, and has operated on that basis,” he said.

Mr Kamau Mweha, a key figure in Mr Odinga’s grassroots meetings in Central, told the Nation that plans were underway to take the ODM leader to the ground in a meet-the-people tour.

“When we hit the ground running, that’s when the naysayers will know what we are made of,” said Mr Mweha who hosted Mr Odinga for a BBI signatures collection exercise at Kangare in Kigumo Constituency last month.

Dr Ruto, however, seems to have a head-start in the region and has rallied several elected leaders to his camp. His key lieutenants include Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Isaac Mwaura and several other first-term MPs and MCAs.

On the other hand, Mr Odinga is banking on Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe. Others are Jubilee-nominated MP Maina Kamanda and former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga who was on Monday hosted by Mr Odinga at his Karen home among other youthful leaders under the banner of Team One Nation.

Besides these groups, Mr Odinga has also endeared himself to the Wachira Kiago-led Kikuyu Council of Elders as well as the self-styled Council of Eminent Persons in Murang’a County led by its chairman Joe Kibe, Secretary Nyamu Njoka, former ACK Bishop Rev Gideon Githiga and Royal Media Services chairman S. K. Macharia—cogs in what appears to be a well-oiled campaign for the former prime minister.

Additional reporting by Simon Ciuri

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.