BY FRED MAKANA
After the epic Sagana III meeting Mount Kenya’s political dynamics are set to change dramatically with some political careers are on the chopping board while others will emerge.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bare-knuckle attack on his estranged Deputy William Ruto and the electric endorsement of ODM leader Raila Odinga has set the tone for the coming general elections.
Azimio La Umoja Presidential hopeful Raila Odinga could be the biggest gainer of the outcome of the Sagana meeting in the six-million strong Mount Kenya region voting bloc.
DP Ruto, on the other hand, stands to lose the most as we move closer to the August 9 General Election.
Mr Odinga has come closest to beating a united Jubilee party in the past two general elections when President Kenyatta and DP Ruto relied on the Mt Kenya and Rift Valley vote blocs to win the polls.
Political analysts now contend President Uhuru’s entry into slopes of Mount Kenya could hurt DP Ruto’s chances more than Mr Raila, whose vote strongholds remain largely the same as in recent presidential elections.
Going by reactions from across the country after yesterday’s meeting, residents of Mt Kenya are optimistic Raila’s chances will grow significantly.
“All along President Uhuru has maintained his cool while he had been betrayed by his own deputy who has been trying to portray a picture that the president has done nothing for the region. Today the truth has come out through the power points we were taken through,” said Anne Mukami from Meru.
Thousands of residents and grassroots leaders from the larger Mt Kenya region arrived at the Sagana State Lodge as early as 6 am on Wednesday waiting to be addressed by President Uhuru.
Among the leaders who are in attendance are Cabinet Secretaries from the region including Peter Munya and Joe Mucheru, Governors Francis Kimemia, James Nyoro, Senator Ephraim Maina and Members of Parliament Gichuki Mugambi, Jeremiah Kioni, Amos Kimunya and Ngunjiri Wambugu among others.
Vouching for his administration, President Kenyatta declared that he had taken an economy worth Sh5 trillion to be worth double, Sh13 trillion.
“I inherited a Sh5 trillion economy, I will hand over a Sh13 trillion economy to…” Uhuru prompted, to a crowd that would respond with, “Baba,” to which he agreed.
According to Nakuru-based televangelist Andrew Kimani President Uhuru was right to point out church leaders who have been misleading their congregants. “Unlike during the KANU regime when the clergy stood for the truth, nowadays some of them are out for personal, not even church gain. The head of state did the right thing to point out such wayward men of the cloth,” Kimani told News Today.
On his part Jackson Ngunjiri a Kirigiti resident took exception with those criticizing President Uhuru over his criticism of some priests who have been roped into DP Ruto’s campaign machinery.
“Some of them have been opening old wounds about Raila in the pulpit when even the president himself has said those were 2017 political campaign gimmicks. It is so shameful that some of the culprits have taken sides in demonizing Raila while singing praise for Ruto yet they are supposed to remain apolitical,” Ngunjiri said.
Without mentioning DP Ruto, President Kenyatta indicated that the fallout between the two of them was reconcilable but conditional.
“Let us support this man (Odinga). When my deputy gets back on track, we can allow him to lead after this man,” the President added.
The head of state also called out DP Ruto’s presidential campaign for what he termed as outright lies saying that they were intended to whip up emotion, asserting that he was not interested in extending his term any longer.
“Ruto thought he could use lies to gain mirage in President Kenyatta’s backyard but going forward the head of state is set to counter the propaganda which has been peddled around for the last five years,” Agnes Nyambura said.
In a reference to the 2017 campaign season, President Kenyatta apologised to Odinga for the name-calling and insults, adding that he had already acknowledged his own shortcomings.
As people settle down for the event, more residents are still trooping in hoping that the president will make the big announcement on the political direction the mountain should follow.
“Uhuru is our leader and has shown us the way. We are only waiting for his voice and we will heed to it,” Nyambura added.
Before his official address, President Uhuru sought to parade the Jubilee Party projects which he said had been keeping him busy.
“A lot has been said but I kept mum,” he said.
“I want to show everyone, especially those I hear speaking about the death of our party, where it has been and what it has been doing,” he added.
Among the projects displayed in major screens mounted at the lodge are road tamaracks, energy projects, hospitals among others.
According to MP Maina Kamanda, going forward Mt Kenya should reject talk that Mr Odinga cannot win the presidency saying the region stands to gain more under an Odinga presidency.
“Raila only needs a fraction of the Mt Kenya votes to win the presidency compared to Ruto who needs more than 98 per cent,” Kamanda said recently.
In Mt Kenya region, Mr Odinga’s image has in the recent past been on a roller coaster, from a political villain to a hero.
Even as he woos the region, Mr Odinga’s perceived strongholds have the largest bloc (9.3 million) of potential new voters who could influence the outcome of the 2022 presidential election.
By getting a chunk of Mt Kenya votes, Mr Odinga will add onto his traditional strongholds of Nyanza, Western and Coast, as well as Turkana, which have overwhelmingly voted for him in the past.