Seth Onyango and Murimi Mutiga @PeopleDailyKe
With the clock ticking furiously to polling date 20 days away, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his National Super Alliance (Nasa) rival Raila Odinga have intensified campaigns in key battle ground counties. Both the incumbent and the former premier are increasingly strategic in the choice of where to pitch campaigns.
It does not surprise that the Jubilee campaign juggernaut is this week pitching tent in Coast region as Nasa camp sets eyes in the western region for the entire week. The two political formations are narrowing their targets to key swing areas in an increasingly frenzied campaign where candidates leave nothing to chance in pursuit of numbers.
Campaign schedules seen by People Daily show Jubilee and Nasa have planned marathon campaign forays with stops in counties deemed to be undecided but without getting their sights off those likely to provide “top up votes”. They are also locked in making counter-campaigns aimed at degrading gains made by rival forays into strongholds.
This emerged clearly yesterday when Uhuru and Raila mounted campaigns to shore up stocks in areas they believe hold key to the outcome of a tight presidential race.
President Uhuru was back at the Coast where he hoped to keep his boot on his rival’s neck in the lead up to the final weeks of roller-coaster race. Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto have organised series of rallies in Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, Taita Taveta and Mombasa with an eye on combined 1.7 million plus votes.
According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the region has some 1,713,151 registered voters as per the 2017 register. In 2013 elections, the region largely voted for Raila who is keen on a replication. It’s this demographic pie that Jubilee hopes to reconfigure to Uhuru’s advantage.
The president’s campaign comes just a week after Raila toured the area in a consolidation foray amid apprehension over shifting political ground. Yesterday, Uhuru and Ruto were in Malindi and Mombasa.
On Monday, they will campaign at Kizingitini in Lamu East, Mpeketoni in Lamu West, Garsen in Tana River, Ganze and Mariakani in Kilifi County.
On Tuesday, UhuRuto will pitch camp in Shimoni, Lunga Lunga, Shimba Hills and Ukunda in Kwale before heading to Mtwapa and Nyali in Mombasa, ending the Coast campaigns on Wednesday with rallies in Rabai in Kilifi county, Taveta, Wundanyi, Mwatate and Voi in Taita Taveta county.
Jubilee is keen to solidify gains made in Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu and reflected by defection of several leaders among them governors; Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Hussein Dado (Tana River), MP Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Zeinab Chidzuga (Kwale Women’s Rep) and Mustafa Idd (Kilifi South) among others.
While Jubilee has been gaining ground in the four counties, Mombasa appears a different ball game courtesy of abrasive politics of Governor Hassan Joho. Taita Taveta is a toss up preposition.
The President, nonetheless is said to be pulling no stops to shore up fortunes in Mombasa where he registered 64, 793 votes out of the 408,747 registered voters with Raila running away with 189,985, votes. IEBC figures show the county now having 596,485 votes.
In Kilifi county Uhuru obtained 23,386 votes against Raila’s 182,708. In their topping up strategy, Jubilee is gunning for doubling game given that the number of registered voters in Kilifi now stands at 510,484 compared to 336,132 in 2013.
On the broader western front, Raila was yesterday in Nyamira aiming to consolidate his 121,590 tally in 2013 against Uhuru’s 54, 071. And again in line with emerging strategy, Raila was in Nyamira just weeks after Uhuru took his charm offensive to the region dishing out compensation to internally displaced persons (IDPs) with his DP making a followup visit and pledging to top up the compensation figure.
Raila aims to hit high notes this week, the key objective being to stir interest in areas notorious for voter apathy. Today, he will be in Homa Bay followed by Kakamega county areas of Malava, Lugari, Likuyani tomorrow.
On Wednesday he will campaign in Butere, Matungu, Mumias East and West. In Homa Bay, Raila might again wade into divisive call for six-piece voting pattern which could antagonise supporters of Independent candidates.
The county is considered his stronghold. However ODM nominees are facing stiff competition from the Independents counterparts who insist they were rigged out in the nominations. The cases include incumbent governor Cyprian Awiti who is encountering fierce political battle against outgoing Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga (Independent).
On Thursday, Raila will head to Bungoma county, where Jubilee has made some inroads with point man Governor Ken Lusaka credited with holding back Nasa wave. The county has more than 559,897 registered voters according to IEBC figures, with Uhuru and Raila having 42,988 and 185,419 respectively — Musalia Mudavadi now in Nasa got 107,868 votes.