Murang’a leaders pile pressure on Raila to pick running mate from region
By Justus Karanja
With the clock fast ticking towards the August 9 General Election, ODM leader Raila Odinga who is a front-runner in the presidential race is under pressure to name his running mate.
One of the regions piling pressure on Raila to pick their son or daughter as the running mate is Mt Kenya’s county of Murang’a which has 587,126 registered voters in 1,131 polling stations’ seven constituencies.
The constituencies are Kangema with 48,730 registered voters, Mathioya (54,940), Kiharu (111,260), Kigumo (78,481), Maragwa (96,078), Kandara (98,633) and Gatanga with 96,004 voters.
Raila is set to hold an Azimio la Umoja rally at Ihura Stadium in Murang’a on 29th January.
As part of preparations, the ODM leader held a meeting with Murang’a leaders at Thika Golf club yesterday.
In pushing for their case, Murang’a leaders opine that sister counties of Kiambu and Nyeri have produced regional kingpins and hence this time the area considered the cradle of the Kikuyu community should produce the kingpin after President Uhuru Kenyatta retires.
The first Kikuyu kingpin was President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta from Kiambu who was followed by President Mwai Kibaki (Nyeri) and current President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kiambu).
Yesterday, leaders from Murang'a met Raila and asked him to consider picking his running mate from the region as a payback for the support the locals give him.
The leaders said the people of Murang'a have supported all the governments and it's time they are rewarded for their loyalty.
Speaking during a meeting with Raila at a hotel in Thika, the leaders proposed Peter Kenneth as their preferred running mate for the ODM leader noting that they would make a perfect duo working together.
"It would be very appropriate if we got a deputy president from Murang'a in return for the support the people give you," Kangema MP Muturi Kigano said.
"If you pick Kenneth, you can be assured that he will help you accomplish all that you have planned for this country," he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Jubilee nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who has roots in Murang’a.
Kamanda noted that Kiambu and Nyeri have produced a president and this time Murang'a should be given a chance to produce a deputy.
He said they are ready to hit the ground to drum up support for Raila from the locals.
Other leaders who spoke at the event and assured Raila of their support included Cabinet Secretary for Roads James Macharia, Jubilee party vice chair David Murathe, Kenneth, Mount Kenya Foundation chairman Peter Munga, Principal Secretary for Water Joseph Irungu, and former Murang'a senator Kembi Gitura.
Others were MPs Ngugi Nduati (Gatanga), Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo), Peter Kimari (Mathioya) and woman representative Sabina Chege.
Kenneth said Raila is the best candidate to guard President Uhuru Kenyatta's legacy, noting that he had served in government for a long time hence had the knowledge and capacity to lead the country.
In case Raila does not pick Kenneth, the Murang’a leaders want him to consider Equity Bank chief Executive James Mwangi who also hails from the region.
There are reports Mwangi’s name was among five others Mt Kenya Foundation had forwarded to Uhuru for consideration as Raila’s running mate in their report after interviewing presidential aspirants.
Also pushing Raila to pick a running mate from their region are influential tycoons and technocrats from Nyeri who are rooting for Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
Kagwe is the former senator of Nyeri County.
In Mount Kenya East that comprises Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties, leaders are pushing for Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to be picked as Raila’s running mate.
Those rooting for Munya include former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti and Njuri Njeke Council of elders.
They argue that Munya is the best bet and that it is time for Mount Kenya East to produce the regional kingpin.
Raila has yet to decide on his number two.