President Uhuru Kenyatta’s absence from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party campaigns has elicited mixed reactions among Nyeri residents.
While a majority feels his input in the campaigns would have given a much-needed boost to Raila Odinga’s fifth stab at the presidency, others believe the tactical withdrawal is a blessing in disguise for the coalition.
Last month Kieni legislator Kanini Kega had disclosed that the Head of State would be hitting the campaign trail beginning this month in support of the election of Raila.
Among the areas he was set to transverse is the vote-rich Mt Kenya region where he was expected to commission development projects while drumming up support for the Raila-Karua ticket.
“His countrywide campaigns will start with the mountain. We do not just want him to campaign. The President will also commission projects. President Kenyatta will also show us which direction to take. It is obvious Mt Kenya is with Karua. She is the person we will oscillate around when the boss leaves the office,” Kega had told a local daily in May.
But Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe later refuted the claim stating that Uhuru will not campaign for Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the Mount Kenya region.
He said the president will instead continue discharging his duties as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief until the election is held on August 9.
Paul Wambugu, a resident of Nyeri believes that with or without the President’s input in Raila’s campaign, the majority of Kenyans have already made up their mind on the preferred presidential candidate.
Wambugu says voters are only waiting for August 9 to go and cast their votes for their candidate regardless of what ensues between now and then.
He added that Uhuru’s early declaration that he was in support of Raila was sufficient to know who to vote for and he is therefore going to stick with his decision.
“Uhuru has already declared his support for Raila and that choice is just as good as campaigns he would have done for him. As long as he has already pledged his unwavering support and believed that Raila will make a great successor then we do not have the capacity to go against that choice,” he said
He also added that as An Azimio staunch supporter, he will stick by Raila regardless of whether the president decides to shift his choice in the near future.
Steven Nguyo, who is a businessman, says that ever since Uhuru declared his support for Raila, his candidacy has won thousands of supporters from the Mount Kenya region.
He has nevertheless said Uhuru’s decision to stay out of the campaigns would not dent Raila’s chances in ascending to the highest office in the land.
“Uhuru campaigning for Raila has, without doubt, boosted the latter’s chances in winning the August 9 presidential election. But his (Uhuru) decision not to directly campaign for Raila does not affect his popularity across the country including the Mount Kenya region,” said Nguyo.
He also claimed that Uhuru’s decision to support Raila and not his deputy despite the two having worked together only means there is a problem that he saw in his second in command and therefore campaigning for Raila is an assurance that the Government will now be in safe hands.
“Uhuru has looked at Kenyans and our desire to have better leaders. Consequently, by choosing Raila as the perfect candidate is surely an open bet on who will be our fifth president,” he added.
But Simon Njagi, a taxi driver, feels Uhuru’s involvement in the campaign would have done more harm than good and the Government should therefore leave Raila to sell his manifesto.
“Uhuru’s involvement in Raila’s campaign would have given the other opponents a golden opportunity to associate the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flagbearer with the failures they have noticed in the current government. Raila campaigning for himself and Martha by his side will only double the votes he already has from the Mount Kenya region,” he said.
Wambugu Mwai has also echoed Njagi’s sentiments by pointing out that opting out from campaigning for Raila is the best decision as this would delink the opposition leader from the Government’s perceived shortcomings.
“The president should not be campaigning for one candidate who is competing with his deputy since he is a symbol of national unity, the campaigns would have gone against that belief. I am not saying that he does not have right to prefer Raila but the campaigns would have caused a rift which would have negatively impacted Raila’s candidacy,” he said.