Seth Mwaniki, Wangarì Njuguna and Dorcas Mbatia @PeopleDailyKe
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday defended his decision to skip the Presidential debate where he was listed to face off with National Super Alliance (Nasa) candidate Raila Odinga.
Uhuru ,who spoke during a campaign tour of Nyeri and Murang’a counties, said Jubilee’s development track record speaks for itself even without him being called out to speak about things that can clearly be seen by all Kenyans.
But speaking in Meru and Tharaka Nithi, Raila criticised the President for skipping the media debate, claiming both of them had agreed to attend in order to sell their agenda to Kenyans. But President Uhuru said he deliberately avoided the presidential debate after realising it was not the appropriate platform for him.
He said it was not the right platform for him to outline his agenda on what he had done and what he intends to do when re-elected. He further said he could not have shared a platform with his opponent Raila whom he accused of lacking an agenda and vision for the nation.
“I said I would not waste my time debating with a person (Raila) who does not know where he is heading to,” said the President, adding: “I would prefer to meet the Kenyans on the ground rather than go to debate on issues which will not benefit the people. The only time I shall share a platform with him (Raila) is on the ballot.”
Uhuru accused Raila of insincerity in his public utterances, claiming he has been shifting goal posts when addressing the public on various issues. He cited Raila’s answer during the Monday evening debate when he denied inciting Kajiado county residents to evict non-locals from the area.
“There is a video recording to prove that Raila indeed made the inciting remarks while addressing Kajiado residents,” he said. “Some of the things we are doing now could have been done by retired President Kibaki but he could not achieve much because Raila was too stubborn to work with,” said Uhuru.
Addressing supporters in Othaya, Uhuru also hit out at the media saying they had consistently denied him support while backing his opponents. “In 2013, media houses failed to give me support. But what I know is that voters will have the final say on who becomes the President,” he said.
“You see, our colleagues in the media think they can bully some of us but even in 2013 they did not support us… but it is the 45 million people who will decide,” he added. And Raila, who was accompanied in his tour by Nasa politicians Moses Wetang’ula, Musalia Mudavadi, Prof Isaiya Kindiki and Johnson Muthama claimed the President had agreed to participate in the debate but pulled out.
“We had agreed to attend the debate held courtesy of the media but my main opponent skipped the function,” said the Nasa flag bearer. And speaking in Makueni, Raila’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka had a different view as he claimed they tricked Jubilee and President Uhuru into missing the Presidential debate.
Kalonzo claimed Uhuru fell for the trick and left Raila to have his way and say for over 90 minutes of prime time on radio and national TVs. His decision to keep off running mates’ debate on July 17, Kalonzo said, was a calculated scheme to make Jubilee believe Raila would also give the Monday one a wide berth.
“We tricked them… we knew those guys fear being accountable to the citizens and that is why I told Raila to seize the moment,” he told residents of Nthongoni as he campaigned in Makueni county.
Meanwhile, in all his addresses, the President urged voters to come out in large numbers on August 8 in order to secure Jubilee government another five years. The President made whistle-stop campaign forays in Kiriti stadium, Mukurwe-ini, and Kiandu in Tetu and later in Othaya town before proceeding to Kiria-ini in Murang’a county.