Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the inaugural Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour at the Nyayo National Stadium on October 3, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the inaugural Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour at the Nyayo National Stadium on October 3, 2020.
Image: DPPS

Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies believe only the candidature of ODM leader Raila Odinga, with the backing of the President, can stop Deputy President William Ruto’s State House bid.

A growing number of the President’s allies have come out to back Raila for the presidency, setting the stage for a gruelling two-horse race in 2022.

Veteran politician Maina Kamanda on Tuesday joined voices from Jubilee that have asked Kenyans to prepare for a Raila presidency.

The Nominated MP, a key member of the Kieleweke political wing of Jubilee, told the Star the President’s final word will catapult Raila to the top office.

“Kenyans should prepare for President Raila Odinga in 2022. He is the best bet for the future as he will not plunder public resources,” Kamanda told the Star.

The President is yet to pronounce himself on his 2022 choice, but his cosy relationship with Raila has caused speculation he could back his handshake partner.

Controversial political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi says Uhuru only needs to deliver six per cent of the Kikuyu nation to Raila and the ODM leader would be President.

“Raila had 44% of the vote in 2013 and 2017. It is still intact,” Ngunyi claimed on his social media pages.

“Uhuru needs 6% of GEMA to make Raila President. This is half of Kiambu or Akorino women only. Uhuru does not need Kikuyus. In fact, 84% of GEMA can follow Ruto if they want to. And they will still fail! Simple math.”

While Ngunyi’s mathematics does not add up when put to scrutiny, he is believed to be part of the strategists for the Kenyatta wing of Jubilee.

In an interview with the Star, Kamanda dismissed Ruto’s popularity across Mt Kenya as a passing cloud. 

He said Ruto’s rallies are only pulling crowds, but not necessarily of genuine supporters. The crowds will thin once Uhuru’s allies hit the road, he said. 

“When the President finally declares that it would be Raila, Ruto will be nothing in Mt Kenya and that would be the end of his dreams,” Kamanda said.

This was also the same position taken by influential Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe who said Ruto’s crowded rallies would not turn into votes.

“If you went to a market with a monkey and then someone comes to the market with a goat, people will to go to watch the monkey but definitely when it comes to what they will take home they will take the goat,” he said.

Murathe is among powerful individuals around the President who have endorsed Raila.

Among the first to support a Raila candidature was Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.

It is understood that Raila is planning to dangle the deputy presidency or prime minister’s position to appease the populous Kikuyu community.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth who has held several meetings with Raila is being touted as the region’s bet for one of the two posts in a 2022 line up.

Most of the President’s allies from Mt Kenya have visited Raila’s Capitol Hill offices as the 2022 political landscape shifts in anticipation of the expanded executive.

While Uhuru has kept all guessing about his succession plan, his nasty falling out with his deputy two years to the next polls leaves him with limited options.

The former prime minister’s efforts to give the President the political support he needs to execute his agenda could confirm his plan to rely on Uhuru’s 2022 support.

Raila’s camp is banking on the President’s vote-rich Mt Kenya region to turn tables against Ruto and enhance his chances of clinching the top seat.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu has warned that Ruto’s rebellion and defiance of Uhuru despite the President’s warnings would be his ultimate “killer punch”.

“Mt Kenya region is loyal to the President and will not support a saboteur of the President’s agenda,” Ngunjiri said.

According to the Kieleweke founder, the President’s final word on his succession politics will influence the way the region votes in the 2022 polls.

Political analyst Joseph Ndambuki said Raila’s hope of succeeding the President would depend on whether Mt Kenya supports him.

“The President is still Mt Kenya’s kingpin and his 2022 declaration would have a serious bearing on Raila’s fortunes,” he said.

The Building Bridges Initiative is tipped to recommend an overhaul of the country’s governance architecture with the creation of at least five slots at the helm.

Once the BBI report is unveiled, the handshake team would roll out popularisation rallies across Mt Kenya that would also market Raila.

It has emerged that the President’s men would project Ruto as a saboteur of the President’s development agenda and legacy as they push to ramp up support for the ex-PM.