Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has unveiled a 15-point blueprint in what is the clearest indication that he is a 2022 presidential candidate.
Already, Deputy President William Ruto has declared that he is prepared to face off with Raila, narrowing the contest to a two-horse race, if the latter throws himself into the ring.
Slightly over a year to the next general election, Raila is putting his best foot forward for a fifth stab at the presidency if his latest sentiments are anything to go by.
Previously, the ODM leader has been cagey on his 2022 candidature, at one point insisting that he will make known his move after the passing of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional changes. However, on Saturday while in Mombasa, he let the cat out of the bag when he said his government will prioritise war on corruption.
And key in his yesterday’s agenda items are zero-tolerance for corruption, investing in the nation’s stability, social cohesion out of our ethnic and religious diversity, and a rigorous application of meritocracy.
Raila has been under pressure from his troops to declare his interest in the top seat, insisting that Ruto, his main competitor, had already hit the road running.
In his 15-point agenda, the opposition leader writes what he believes of a country with a firm foundation for the rule of law and resting on efficient government structures that can withstand all pressures.
“We will ensure a fair, efficient and transparent Judiciary. Investors and citizens need assurance that when disputes arise, there will be a Judiciary that will deliver fast, fair and transparent justice,” observes Raila.
“And to ensure massive investment in manpower development, there will be universal access to quality education in the public system. “Trained manpower is the single most important factor in determining whether we are competitive or not,” says Raila.
On unity, Raila pledges to invest in prolonged stability of the nation. “We will do more to promote social cohesion,” he says. He also promises a rigorous application of meritocracy with every trained youth hired purely on merit. With his latest agenda, Raila’s 2022 race to State House has been set, and it is against Ruto, his erstwhile ally. An MP close to Raila said: “Raila is in the race 100 per cent and he is the man to beat. It is a two-horse race.”
ODM party chairman John Mbadi (Suba South) told The Standard that he will make his position known at the right time. “Raila will announce his next move at the appropriate time,” said Mbadi.
Recently, Raila told off one of his fellow National Super Alliance (NASA) principals Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), saying he had not declared his interest in the presidency and that he owes him nothing.
Meanwhile, Ruto has assembled his lieutenants under the Hustler Nation mantra with a bottom-up middle-out economic model, which he has been preaching across the country. He has gone all out to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in next year’s polls.
While Ruto has pegged his battle for presidency on a campaign to resuscitate the economy through empowering the poor, Raila through the social media yesterday unveiled his blueprint that signals his focus.
His allies in ODM argued that with a moribund NASA and a DP in robust grassroots mobilisation, Raila needed to begin reactivating his networks and cover political ground.
Indeed, in the last one month, the ODM leader has hosted tens of delegations in his office, besides tours of Nyanza, Coast, Mount Kenya and Nairobi. Insiders say more will follow soon.
His allies believe that he was in a better position to win the elusive presidency in 2022 owing to his growing influence in Mt Kenya, noting that his working relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta was helping him make inroads into the vote-rich region.
His elder brother Oburu Odinga, in an earlier interview, said they were now comfortable and that they would win the presidency because of his dalliance with the powers-that-be. Uhuru and Raila had a handshake on March 9, and since then have had a close working relationship that recently culminated in a four-day tour of Nyanza region, Raila’s political bedrock where projects worth billions of shillings were unveiled.
Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, Uhuru’s confidant, has publicly endorsed Raila as the most suitable and deserving successor to the president.
“We will have a Mandela moment; I think it is time Kenyans rewarded the long years of struggle by Odinga. They owe it to him,” he told The Standard two months ago.
Murathe was referring to former South Africa President Nelson Mandela’s one term in office after serving 27 years in detention.
Raila first threw his hat into the presidential ring in 1997, but did not run in 2002. He cried foul that his victories in 2007, 2013 and 2017 were stolen. In his tweets dubbed “I believe” yesterday, Raila says: “We will pursue a low and transparent tax regime, backed by a clean and efficient public service running on a strong regulatory and legal framework.”
He says Kenyans should continue investing in an energy mix to power the nation’s ambitions. “We continue the vision of making Kenya a regional transport and communication hub. With massive investment in air, maritime, rail and road transportation, we will position Kenya as a natural hub for multinational businesses in Africa,” he adds.
The ODM leader insists that he will invest in higher-value-added industries and strong productivity instead of just consumption, boost food security and an efficient public primary healthcare system. Inside part of his plan is enhanced ongoing social protection measures with subsistence allowances for the urban and rural poor.
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