Azimio la Umoja presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga yesterday skipped an event in Makueni County where he was to be hosted by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka amid anxiety over the outfit’s running mate.
This came even as high ranking officials in Mr Odinga’s camp insisted the seat had been reserved for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya.
Mr Odinga was instead hosted for luncheon by the Azimio running mate selection panel chaired by former Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa at Serena Hotel where he was briefed on the latest development regarding the selection of his prospective deputy.
Yesterday, Mr Musyoka’s representative in the panel — Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua — threatened to quit the seven-member committee to pick the Azimio presidential running mate citing alleged manipulation and interference.
Mr Wambua told the Nation that he was sidelined in yesterday’s Serena meeting between Mr Odinga and the panellists, pointing to a frosty relationship between the ODM leader and Mr Musyoka, which could hinder his chances of clinching the running mate position.
“I wasn’t notified about the meeting,” Mr Wambua said.
This came even as some MPs in President Kenyatta’s Jubilee party laid claim on the running mate slot, saying it was theirs having been the pioneer parties in Azimio, with Mr Odinga’s ODM.
A high ranking leader in Mr Odinga’s camp intimated that Mr Odinga gave the Makueni event a wide berth as “it was prone to be used by Mr Musyoka’s camp to bash him over his position on the selection panel.”
“Mr Musyoka’s undoing is that he is taking advice from extremists who are not serving his interests well. The ultimatums and threats are only serving to his disadvantage.
“The focus is on Mt Kenya region because we cannot overlook the role that the region is playing in Mr Odinga’s quest for the presidency in terms of resources and political posturing,” the source told Nation.
He went on: “We feel that Kalonzo Musyoka would have negotiated for the Speaker of National Assembly or Chief Minister and after the elections push for the Building Bridges Initiative so that he secures the Prime Minister position. Currently the Speaker is the third highest position and he should not despise it because the current political landscape has changed.”
Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohamed, however, said the team tasked with selecting Mr Odinga’s running mate should be given time to finalise its report.
May 10 deadline
“The committee of eminent persons chaired by Dr Noah Wekesa has a deadline of May 10 to give their verdict and is still doing their work. My plea is let’s give the committee time,” Mr Mohamed said.
The panel is expected to finalise its report today and hand it over to Mr Odinga tomorrow.
During yesterday’s rally in Makueni, the push for Mr Musyoka to be picked as Mr Odinga’s running mate dominated the event, with the clergy joining in the calls.
“We joined Azimio because of Kalonzo. We have told Raila to pick him as his running mate because he is the most experienced. Otherwise he will be defeated by Deputy President William Ruto,” said Mr Peter Mwangangi, the chairman of the Ukambani Pastors’ Forum.
For his part, the Wiper leader noted that while he was ready to walk the journey with Mr Odinga to State House, the ODM leader should do the right thing by picking him as his deputy.
“The excitement which greeted our caravan as we headed towards Mombasa told me that the people are ready to ensure that the journey myself and Raila started in 2013 and 2017 gets to its destination in 2022. It was a useful journey. We were committed to end poverty in this country and safeguard the freedom of worship. When you hear Bishop Mwangangi speak so firmly, know that something is wrong. And it must be resolved. Kambas and Kenyans must be treated fairly,” Mr Musyoka said.
The Wiper leader is fronting former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko for Mombasa county chief post.
But even as the running mate selection panel prepares to host willing candidates for interviews today, Jubilee lawmakers Nduati Ngugi (Gatanga) and Peter Kimari (Mathioya) said the position should be reserved for the ruling party which is the major coalition partner with ODM in Azimio.
“We have been told that this coalition is a three-legged stool consisting of ODM, Jubilee and One Kenya Alliance. If that is the case then there is no way the second leg, which is Jubilee, can be overlooked in regards to the running mate position,” Mr Ngugi told the Nation.
Jubilee submitted the names of former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth as the party’s first choice for the position and Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege for consideration for the post.
“We support Peter Kenneth and that’s also our position as Murang’a leaders. He can easily gel with Mr Odinga and we believe they share the same vision for this country,” said Mr Kimari, the Mathioya MP.
At the Makueni meeting, Mr Wambua said Wiper was ready to quit Azimio if the team fails to pick Mr Musyoka as Mr Odinga’s running mate.
“I expected to find Mr Odinga here so that I remind him that he has a responsibility of picking Mr Musyoka as his running mate because the Kamba community has been supporting him. In the event that Mr Musyoka will not be picked as Mr Odinga’s running mate, we shall quit Mr Azimio,” said Mr Wambua.