President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday visited Mamboleo ASK, where the construction of Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium is ongoing.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday visited Mamboleo ASK, where the construction of Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium is ongoing.
Image: PSCU

A showdown is looming in Mt Kenya as President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga separately move to consolidate the region, precipitating a clash with DP William Ruto.

Uhuru this week will unleash his political might and state power in a packed three-day charm offensive to fend off Ruto and market the BBI referendum drive.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, the President set the tempo for his tour saying he “still roars like a lion”.

He declared there is no vacancy in the Office of the President, a message that appeared targeted at Ruto, his second-in-command.

“When at a police function I do not want to talk politics,” Uhuru said in  off-the-cuff remarks as he launched the construction of a  police leadership academy.

“But you know there are some people who say I am leaving office and so, what can I do? Let me remind them that even if I am leaving, there are some days remaining to roar like the Lion…. there is no vacancy,” Uhuru said.

Raila, on the other hand, will on Wednesday tour the populous Githurai Market and hold a meeting with traders to reach out to the President’s vote-rich region.

ODM leader Raila Odinga during a service at St Joachim and Anne Catholic Church, Kayole, on January 17.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BABA: ODM leader Raila Odinga during a service at St Joachim and Anne Catholic Church, Kayole, on January 17.
Image: RAILA ODINGA/TWITTER

By his side will be Principal Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga.

The ODM leader’s BBI sensitisation campaign in Githurai follows another one a few days ago targeting Burma market, Dagoretti, and a session at the sacred Kikuyu Council of Elders’ shrine in Ruaka.

Uhuru and Raila have also turned to Kikuyu vernacular media stations to make a passionate pitch for the BBI in a high-stakes battle for the region’s support.

The Star has established the President’s preparations to reclaim his own region are elaborate.

On Tuesday, Uhuru met all governors from Mt Kenya to prepare for the flurry of activities culminating in a major political gathering in Nyeri on Saturday. Ruto’s foot soldiers have not been invited to any of the meetings. 

The make-or-break convention comes at a time BBI’s fortunes are perceived to be dwindling in the region following Ruto’s own charm offensive.

On Tuesday, Kieni MP Kanini Kega, a key Uhuru point man, told the Star that the President’s tour will centre on the BBI agenda and development projects for the region.

“The meeting will take stock of the last three years and agree on how we are going to approach the remaining one and half year in terms of actualising the development projects for the region,” Kega said.

Uhuru’s aggressive efforts to reclaim his shaky stronghold will include a three-day tour of development projects undertaken in the region by his administration.

On Friday, the President is expected to hold a closed door meeting with all elected leaders from across Mt Kenya. 

Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.
KIELEWEKE MAN: Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.
Image: FILE

On Saturday, the President will chair another meeting bringing together elected leaders, members of the business community, representatives of teachers unions, the clergy and select opinion leaders.

“The President might actually camp in Mt Kenya for a few more days after Saturday’s meeting,” Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu told the Star.

The vocal lawmaker, however, insisted the President’s full itinerary was yet to be unveiled because “a lot of consultations remain work in progress.”

Kega, who chairs the Budget and Appropriations Committee in Parliament, said the President will spare no effort in addressing the thorny BBI issue.

“The BBI, which is very crucial for our people will be part of the agenda. We have a lot of interest in BBI as a region because most of our people are spread across the country in the diaspora,” Kega said.

After the meetings, carefully crafted to whip the region to back the BBI process, Uhuru will tour government projects.

He will commission the Chaka Railway Station, which is part of his government’s Sh1.2 billion rehabilitation of the Nairobi-Nanyuki Railway.

This is one of the ambitious Jubilee projects meant to turn around the region’s economic fortunes.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega.
DEFENDING UHURU: Kieni MP Kanini Kega.

The President will also inspect construction of the 84km Kenol-Sagana-Marua road costing Sh16.7 billion.

The head of state is also expected to inspect construction of the Sh30 billion Mau Mau Road traversing Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri and Nyandarua counties and stretching over 540km.

In a strategy by leaders from Mt Kenya to address growing jitters among them, each county will hold prior planning sessions to brainstorm and agree on how to approach the Sagana meeting on Saturday.

Nyeri leaders led by Governor Mutahi Kahiga, the Star has established, will meet on Wednesday to draw up their agenda

“For us from Nyeri we are meeting tomorrow [Wednesday] as elected leaders to plan for the meeting and each county doing that,” Kega said.

The meetings are expected to intensify before Friday as various political leaders seek to consolidate their agenda including agreeing on their respective BBI team leaders before meeting the President.

National Assembly Deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore confirmed to the Star that there would be a leaders’ meeting before a date with the President on Saturday.

The meeting will then draw up the programme and agree on the modalities of the Saturday session as well as craft the full schedule of the President’s tour of the region.
MP Maoka Maore

“The meeting will then draw the programme and agree on the modalities of the Saturday session as well as craft the full schedule of the President’s tour of the region,” the Igembe North MP said.

The meeting also coincides with the move by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Tuesday to declare that the Constitution of Kenya (amendment) Bill, 2020 would be submitted to the 47 county assemblies after being supported by more than  1.1 million voters.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
ELECTORAL BOSS: Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Image: FILE

With the Bill moving to the county assemblies and Treasury allocating to IEBC an additional Sh10 billion in the next financial year, a referendum is not far from reality.

The county assemblies will be the next battlefront between the pro-BBI forces and Ruto’s Tangangata movement, which is resisting the push to amend the constitution in an all-or-nothing vote.

Both sides are expected to mount aggressive campaigns to woo MCAs to to their side with massive grassroots-centred initiatives expected to be heightened as the deadline gets down to the wire.

Ruto has been meeting MCAs from a couple of county assemblies at his Karen residence in what are seen as strategy sessions to thwart the public vote

On Wednesday, Raila will be accompanied by PS Hinga in his Gthurai market tour, signifying the former Prime Minister’s influence in government.

Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago confirmed the ODM boss will engage with thousands of traders in the area.

“He will be visiting the Githurai traders, he will be meeting each and every trader. The traders will be waiting for him. We elders introduced the traders and they are now engaging him directly,” Kiago told the Star.

During a recent meeting with traders at Raila’s Capitol Hill offices, they discussed issues that affect their work including the new market being put up by the government.