Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga with government officials during the Mount Kenya Foundation luncheon at Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on December 8, 2021.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Uhuru’s men throw their weight behind Raila bid for State House

Four senior officials in President Kenyatta’s administration attended a forum hosted by the Mt Kenya Foundation (MKF) to formally endorse former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid, giving the strongest hint yet as to his preferred successor.

The Nation established that Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta’s push for a broad-based coalition to secure a majority of elective seats in the 2022 polls will gather momentum later this month during a special sitting of Parliament to amend electoral laws.

Led a delegation

At Wednesday’s meeting, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya led a delegation from the executive, including his counterparts, Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT), Prof Margaret Kobia (Public Service) and Ms Sicily Kariuki (Water).

Also present were Principal Secretaries Karanja Kibicho (Interior), Joseph Njoroge (Transport) and Nicholas Muraguri (Lands), among other officials.

MKF Chairman Peter Munga introduced Mr Munya as the leader of the team from the executive.

Incidentally, the Leadership and Integrity Act exempts Cabinet Secretaries from the requirement by State officers to uphold political neutrality. Section 23 (1) states: “An appointed State officer, other than a Cabinet Secretary or a member of a County executive committee shall not, in the performance of their duties— (a) act as an agent for, or further the interests of a political party or candidate in an election; or (b) manifest support for or opposition to any political party or candidate in an election.”

Mr Munya read a hard-hitting resolution stating why MKF had chosen Mr Odinga as the candidate who would secure the Mt Kenya region interests, if elected President.

“Contrary to what some people believe, our people care more about the economy than politics. However, we see politics as an opportunity to address our economic issues. We have also witnessed what corruption can do to an economy and cannot imagine a Kenya where looters are in charge,” read the statement.

In a jab apparently directed at Deputy President William Ruto’s “hustler nation” talk, the statement added “being an industrious people, our economy-related issues are complex, and cannot be reduced to a mere slogan, catchy phrases or handouts. Our region requires a coherent and comprehensive plan to recast and address our development and economic needs.”

Declare his candidature

National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said there were crucial Bills MPs will speed up through special sittings on December 21 and 22 to support Mr Odinga’s agenda and “protect the interests of Mt Kenya.”

The Nation understands that, during the two days, MPs will consider amendments to the Political Parties and Elections Acts “to allow fielding of candidates under coalition arrangement.”

Mr Odinga, through Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, has reserved Azimio la Umoja as the proposed name for the coalition.

Mr Odinga’s side included Mr Mohamed, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Deputy Party Leader Hassan Joho, Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth (who is touted as his possible running mate), Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and Siaya Senator James Orengo.

Mt Kenya governors at the meeting were Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Martin Wambora (Embu) and James Nyoro (Kiambu).

Mr Odinga is set to declare his presidential bid during the Azimio La Umoja National Convention in Kasarani tomorrow. Yesterday, speakers at the MKF forum urged him to urgently declare his candidature “as this is a Raila moment”. The ODM leader said he will heed their call.

Acceptance speech“I want to tell you that we are together with you, but I’m not going to respond to the request until Friday,” he said, as he concluded his acceptance speech following his endorsement by MKF, which comprises influential and wealthy leaders from the region.

Mr Munga said MKF had settled on Mr Odinga due to his policies for the region and would lead a 10,000-man delegation to Kasarani tomorrow.

“This meeting is for us to host the forthcoming President of Kenya so that we escort you to Kasarani for the Azimio la Umoja celebrations and say that, on Friday, all roads shall lead to Kasarani,” he said.