BY FRED MAKANA
With massive influx of supporters, the ruling Jubilee Party has found itself under pressure to accommodate the increasing number of aspirants seeking the party’s ticket for the August 9 polls.
Jubilee’s top decision-making organ has been forced to extend the the nomination deadline by a week to allow aspirants seeking its tickets to submit their documentations and payments ahead of the primaries scheduled for later this month.
This follows what the party secretary General Jeremiah Kioni and his deputy Joshua Kutuny said is as a result of overwhelming support from aspirants from various parts of the country.
“We have been receiving numerous applications from aspirants seeking our party’s ticket. We are optimistic and confident Jubilee will scoop many seats in the county and two houses of parliament,” Kioni said.
He said the party’s top officials will meet Friday to consider extending the period which lapses today to avoid locking out other aspirants. According to Kioni, so many aspirants who initially developed cold feet over the party because of propaganda have expressed their interest to rejoin the party as massive defections to Jubilee are looming.
Since last month, Jubilee has embarked on an aggressive campaign to revitalize itself, including rebranding, appointing new officials as well as conducting grassroots campaigns. This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya troops rolled out an aggressive campaign to axe DP William Ruto’s perceived influence in the region.
As of Wednesday, we had received 700 MPs’ aspirants and over 3,500 MCA aspirants and so we are thinking of extending our deadline so that we can give a chance to those who are still coming to us,” Kutuny added.
Two days ago, the National Elections Board of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) also extended the period for paying nominations fee to March 5, and announced that the primaries will take place between April 9 and April 16.
Jubilee and UDA party had initially slated March 4 as the last day for incumbents and aspirants intending to contest governor, MPs and Ward Reps to deposit slips for registration and nominations, certified certificates and nomination application forms.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said political parties will hold their primaries on April 20 and political party and independent candidates between May 8 and 20 will then take nomination papers to the electoral body.
Political analyst Martin Andati said the activation should worry Deputy President William Ruto. “They are going to put in a lot of resources as they have the backing of the President and money is a major factor in politics,” he said.
As part of Jubilee’s strategy to counter UDA propaganda that President Kenyatta has abandoned the region, big billboards, some with the President’s image, have been erected in parts of Central and in Nairobi.
“We promised, we have delivered,”one billboard reads.
Influential Jubilee politicians from Mt Kenya have also heightened grassroots-driven campaigns to revamp the party ahead of a pact with Raila over the weekend. Will the grassroots deliver for the tycoons?
Big meetings with Jubilee troops that others have christened ‘the red army’ have been held in several constituencies over the past few weeks.