The uncertainty on whether ODM leader Raila Odinga will be on the ballot in 2022 is attracting other presidential contenders to chip away at his Nyanza support base.
Mr Odinga has competed in every election since 1997, except in 2002 when he endorsed retired president Mwai Kibaki. However, as he has kept his supporters guessing – insisting it was not time to talk about 2022 – some of his prospective opponents are making attempts to lure voters from his Nyanza base.
Deputy President William Ruto, Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi and Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi are some of the political bigwigs who are now eyeing the region.
Nyanza for Ruto
Mr Ruto had made several trips to the Gusii region but not in Luo Nyanza. But he now seems to have intensified the targeting of the youth in Luo Nyanza to take his “hustler” campaign to the area.
Under the Nyanza Youth Movement for Ruto 2022, the team which was hosted at Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi’s home early this month has started campaigns for the DP in the area and are planning to host him.
Jubilee Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany told the Sunday Nation that the DP will crisscross the entire country to hunt for votes and that no region shall be left behind in their push for votes.
“We will take the hustler message in every part of the country because we are all Kenyans,” Mr Kositany said.
Massive membership recruitment
Mr Stephen Midenyo, who leads the Nyanza Youth Movement for Ruto 2022, said they were planning a series of activities in the area including fundraisers for churches, youth and women groups that will be presided over by the DP.
Mr Moi’s Kanu has also embarked on massive membership recruitment drive in the Nyanza region in what officials say is an attempt to restore its lost glory in the area. Kanu Nyanza regional coordinator Tom Ojanga hosted a delegation of party officials from the region in Nairobi where they resolved to mobilise and recruit members to cement Mr Moi’s 2022 candidature for president.
“Kanu is the only party that can guarantee the unity and stability of the country going forward.”
“It is the only political vehicle which is non divisive, acceptable and present in all corners of the country,” Mr Ojanga, a former Mr Odinga confidant and coordinator of the ODM International Network.
He added that Kanu had embarked on enrolments and creation of branches in Nyanza region.
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“I am confident Kanu will be able to field candidates in all elective positions in Nyanza in 2022 and I believe it will do unexpectedly very well,” he said.
Mr Ojanga told Sunday Nation that going forward, there is need for a political formation that can guarantee national cohesion and unity of the people of Kenya.
Homa Bay County Kanu branch Chairman Ken Okul said they will revive all the county offices within the next month.
The party also recently launched a digital platform to boost recruitment.
For Mr Mudavadi’s ANC, Deputy party leader Ayub Savula told Sunday Nation that the party will also be taking 2022 campaigns to Nyanza region to win their support.
“Our party leader was recently endorsed by the National Governing Council as the party’s presidential candidate for 2022 elections and we have since started a rigorous process to open offices in Mount Kenya and our next stop will be in Nyanza,” Mr Savula says.
He said Mr Mudavadi had supported Mr Odinga in the past two elections and it is now time for the ODM leader to reciprocate.
Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe recently told Kenyans to reward Mr Odinga “for all his struggles and sacrifices for the country’s democratic growth and progress.”
His sentiments were later echoed by Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli.