Raila cancels Nyeri tour, opts for Meru, Kajiado
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s tour of Nyeri County on Friday has been cancelled and a new itinerary developed by his handlers.
The move comes a week after he was denied an opportunity to address the nation during Madaraka Day celebrations held in the County at Kabiruini stadium where even his presence was not acknowledged.
Mr Odinga was scheduled to be in Nyeri and Laikipia counties to campaign for his Presidential bid and later on Saturday be in Kiambu and Thika towns for political rallies.
The campaign programme had been announced on Sunday but Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) communications director Phillip Etale denounced the fixture calling it “misinformation.”
Mr Etale, later on Monday evening, produced a new schedule indicating that Mr Odinga would be in Kajiado County on June 15, Meru on June 16 and later in Tharaka Nithi on Saturday.
His choice for Meru over Nyeri left his supporters in the county complaining saying perhaps there are fears he would receive a cold reception.
ODM’s Mathira constituency MP aspirant Chris Kiruta said the former Premier would visit the county soon saying the tour was just postponed and not entirely cancelled.
“He is admired here and residents want to hear from him. I spoke to his office and I was told he will eventually visit.
“He has supporters here and in the General Election he will get a chunk of the votes notwithstanding the notion that this is a Jubilee zone,” said Mr Kiruta.
He said the former prime minister was to address issues of coffee and tea farming whose income has dwindled over the years and the county has economically run down.
“The two sectors of agriculture were our backbone but they are no more because of brokers. He has assured that he will eliminate brokers so that the farmers can get maximum income,” noted Mr Kiruta.
The aspirant ruled out reports that Mr Odinga would be unwelcomed saying Nyeri voters are tolerant and accommodative.
He added that National Super Alliance (Nasa) will get a share of votes in the region saying it is a swing-vote county.
“Mr Odinga is active in Opposition and keeps government on its toes and that is the same way he would be active as head of government. He can perform the same way President Kibaki performed though he had initially been rejected by voters but after elections he did surprises,” explained Mr Kiruta.
A youth leader, Amos Muchiri, said the Opposition leader was being misled with reports that Nyeri is a swing-vote saying some people want to ‘milk’ him financially.
“Nyeri is a Jubilee zone and I am not sure he can dare hold a rally here. It is possible he would be jeered and he has been given intelligence reports,” said Mr Muchiri.
He said he was privy to reports that Mr Odinga was to hold a closed door meeting at a hotel in Nyeri town where attendants would be paid an allowance of Sh3,000 each.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Odinga’s campaign team and communication officers over the claims were futile.
“By yesterday reports were rife that attendants would be paid and the meeting would be held in a hotel or a church hall. There are people who would attend just because of the money,” claimed Mr Muchiri.
He also noted that the Nasa leader could have feared occurrence of an incident similar to that of 2007 where a woman hotelier evicted him from her hotel, Karatina Forest Lodge.
The ODM leader was accompanied by Reuben Ndolo, Mumbi Ngaru and Joseph Nyaga during the saga.
They were waiting to be served for lunch when the woman stormed in and ordered the hotel security guards to evict the Opposition politicians from her establishment.
The politicians had earlier attended the funeral of Mathira Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) branch chairman Peterson Kaburu at Mwanda Village.
The woman stormed the dining room of the hotel shouting and screaming.
“Who brought you here? We do not want ODM here. Can you please leave now? We do not want your money,” Shouted the woman and the Opposition leader was hurriedly whisked out of the premises.
In August last year, Mr Odinga while accompanied by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi opted to address media from Aberdare Country Cub before flying to Laikipia North and Tharaka Nithi for political rallies.
However, in March this year, he was celebrated and cheered during the funeral ceremony of former governor Nderitu Gachagua in Hiriga village in Mathira.
In Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties, Mr Odinga enjoys a welcoming and huge crowd since his ODM party also managed to get two parliamentary seats in Meru county.
For Mr Kiruta, the Nasa leader should not fear to campaign in areas predominantly perceived to be President Uhuru Kenyatta’s strongholds since he is a national leader.