Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia told Nyeri residents on Saturday that when former President Mwai Kibaki was seeking re-election in 2007, the president’s team said “a lot of lies” about ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga was Kibaki’s fiercest rival in the 2007 presidential contest.
At the time, Odinga had pulled political bigwigs, including Charity Ngilu, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto and Joe Nyaga to his side.
Kibaki cut the figure of an isolated man, but the successes of his first term in office catapulted him to victory, though under disputed circumstances.
With all odds initially suggesting that Raila Odinga would beat Kibaki to clinch the presidency, several remarks to disrepute him were made, especially in Central Kenya where Kibaki enjoyed a vogue following, Kimemia said on Saturday as Odinga wound up his two-day tour of Nyeri County.
One of the allegations levelled against Odinga at the time, was that he would – out of revenge on behalf of his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s perceived betrayal by Jomo Kenyatta –, antagonise and alienate Central Kenya if elected president.
Kimemia now says that those remarks were politically-motivated, and had no iota of truth in them.
“When I was in Kibaki’s camp and Raila Odinga was our opponent, we said lies about him. We ruined his reputation, a lot. I can tell you today that we were telling lies. It was all politics,” he said during his speech at the Ruringu Stadium in Nyeri Town on Saturday, November 27.
“It’s now time we go to the grassroots and tell the people the truth about this man Raila. We’ll tell them: ‘we said this or that about him so that we could galvanise the voters to vote for Kibaki’. Let’s tell people the truth, that Raila is the right candidate for president; he has adequate experience to run government,” Kimemia said.
The Nyandarua county chief moved to assure Mt. Kenya voters that their diverse interests would be protected by Odinga.
“In Raila’s hands, we are safe. I’m sure he will look into matters coffee, tea, potatoes, rice, sugarcane, livestock, among others. I have worked with Raila Odinga in government previously.”
According to Kimemia, if Odinga meant ill for Central Kenya, he (Odinga) “wouldn’t have endorsed Kibaki for president in 2002”.
“He (Odinga) campaigned for Kibaki [in the run-up to 2002 General Election]. When Kibaki was recuperating after being involved in a road accident [on December 3, 2002], it was Raila who coordinated government functions,” said the county chief.
“I served as Secretary to the Cabinet in Kibaki’s government. Let me tell you today, credit goes to Raila Odinga for the awarding of charters to universities during Kibaki’s reign. Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Karatina University [both in Nyeri County] are existing today because of Raila. The water supply and the road network [in Central Kenya] are also his pet projects,” said Kimemia, adding: “Raila Odinga wrote Cabinet memo for the projects to be initiated.”
“Raila anatosha (Raila is best-suited to occupy presidency). I wouldn’t ask you to vote for him when I know he is incompetent; he is competent,” emphasised Kimemia.
In his passionate appeal, Kimemia said Odinga “knows how to separate politics from State craft”, and, therefore, wouldn’t direct his energy on unnecessary issues.
“If we elect him as president, I trust him to run the government efficiently, promote equity, look into the welfare of the youth, women and the elderly.”
Kimemia told Odinga that Mt. Kenya would expect him to return the favour should he win presidency.
“[Should you win the presidency], don’t forget about us (members of the Kikuyu community). Provide an enabling environment for us to do business, and hire our professionals in government,” he said.
Kimemia said Odinga surrounds himself with literatis, who advise him appropriately.
“When he was the Prime Minister of Kenya, he had a whole floor at his office which was full of consultants; some from China, others from USA, and others from Brazil. As a result, our government, at the time, posted commendable economic progress,” said Kimemia.
In his speech, Raila Odinga said he’ll prioritise economic recovery, poverty alleviation and introduce health insurance cover for a majority of Kenyans. He reiterated his Sh6,000 monthly stipend pledge, saying vulnerable families should be cushioned by the government.
“I have served as Kenya’s prime minister. I know the loopholes which crafty people use to siphon money from the State. I will tighten the purse strings,” he said.
Odinga said his quest for unity saw him and President Uhuru Kenyatta “meet for three hours” on March 9, 2018 after a divisive presidential election in 2017. The meeting, he said, birthed the now-famous handshake.
The Ruringu Stadium event was attended by, among others, Governors Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), James Nyoro (Kiambu), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), and Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu).
Other leaders included Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Siaya Senator James Orengo, former presidential hopeful Peter Kenneth, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Embakasi East MP Babu Owino and Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege.
Others were EALA MP Oburu Oginga, Nominated Senator Isaac Ngugi, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, Uriri MP Mark Nyamita, Nyando MP Jared Okello, Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje, Alego-Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, Kiambaa MP Kariri Njama, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, Mathioya MP Peter Kimari, Kasarani MP Mercy Gakuya, Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo, Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama, Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch, Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati, Royal Media Services chairman S.K. Macharia, among others.