The delay in the naming of a running mate for ODM leader Raila Odinga and incomplete projects in his Mt Kenya backyard are some of the reasons why President Uhuru Kenyatta is yet to officially begin campaigns for the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party.
This is according to President Kenyatta’s strategists and allies who also argue that another factor holding the Head of State back from taking Azimio campaigns to Central personally is the ongoing rejuvenation of the Jubilee Party.
The President was expected to hit the ground running and begin campaigning for Mr Odinga, especially in his Mt Kenya backyard, immediately after the Sagana III meeting where the Head of State lashed out at his deputy William Ruto and endorsed Mr Odinga’s candidature for the August election.
But close to two months later and after a series of meetings, including in March with the Gikuyu Council of Elders at State House in Nairobi, Mr Kenyatta is yet to begin campaigning, leading to a growing disquiet and restlessness among his key lieutenants and supporters in Mt Kenya.
At the Sagana three meeting, the President portrayed his deputy Ruto as a dishonest man and criticised the performance of dockets under his supervision, adding that Dr Ruto’s early campaigns had disrupted the Jubilee administration and affected the delivery of services and the implementation of projects.
“Let’s support this old man (Mr Odinga) and help him protect our interests and legacy. When this young man (Dr Ruto) toes the line in future, we... will consider him,” President Kenyatta said.
And in March, the Head of State hosted 3,000 elders from Central Kenya, where he once again, pleaded with the Mt Kenya region to back Mr Odinga, and explained to the elders how Dr Ruto had frustrated his government.
The Head of State would yet again in April, promise to hit the ground running and counter the forays by his deputy central Kenya, warning those who have been critical of his government, to brace up for a fight. He spoke in Kandara in Murang’a county during the Consecration of the Holy Oil at the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) Gakarara Church.
But these inconsistencies, coupled with the President’s delay to begin campaigning for Mr Odinga and to rejuvenate the Jubilee party, especially in his Mt Kenya backyard, are now causing worries among some supporters.
On Friday, a group of Jubilee party supporters from the region said that the silence by the President was giving his opponents, including Dr Ruto more footing in the mountain.
“We are tired of these many riot acts that the President's men keep on reading to us. They are now threatening to deny us financial aid if we do not campaign for Mr Odinga. Yet, it is widely known that the most passionate person about Mr Odinga presidency is the president himself,” said a gubernatorial aspirant in the Central region.
But speaking to the Nation, allies of the President said that the Head of State was waiting for the unveiling of Mr Odinga’s deputy and a clear line-up of Jubilee party candidates, before hitting the ground running to popularise them ahead of the elections.
The allies also revealed that those working on the President’s campaign itinerary want it to be a campaign-cum-development tour that is set to go beyond his Mt Kenya backyard.
The Jubilee party has been angling for the running mate position in the Azimio team, a proposal that President Kenyatta is said to be keen on using to woo the restive Mt Kenya region. The deadline for the submissions of the names or running mates is May 16.
“The idea was that the President should go to the ground after nominations, when we already have a full list of candidates and know who our deputy president is. He would be parading the line-up. That is the plan. The President only needs 90 days to campaign for his preferred successor,” Jubilee deputy-secretary general Joshua Kutuny said. Jubilee party’s director of elections and Kieni MP Kanini Kega told the Nation that the President’s planned Mt Kenya visit has been delayed to allow the party conduct its primaries and develop a list of candidates in the elections.
Mr Kega added that there are a number of projects currently ongoing in the region, which upon completion, will give the President an upper hand in the campaigns.
“We want to create a level ground for all our candidates and I know it is a question of time and we are planning when he (President Kenyatta) will commission projects so that is does not appear that he is here to politic. Basically there are some projects which are at the tail end and we are working on them,” said Mr Kega.
Additional reporting by Mwangi Muiruri