President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday, Septemeber 7, bared his soul, explaining that although he was handing over power to his deputy William Ruto, he still considers Raila Odinga his leader.
Addressing the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Parliamentary Group meeting at Masai Lodge, Kajiado County, the Head of State assured of a smooth transition.
“I will hand over power smiling because it’s my Constitutional duty, but my leader is Baba, Raila Odinga,” he said. At the same time, the President said Kenyans denied themselves a chance to foster unity in the country by failing to vote in the Azimio leader for the top seat.
President Kenyatta said the people who thought they were punishing him by voting against Mr Odinga will regret in future.
“You think you have denied me, but you have denied yourself that opportunity of bringing this country together. Msiwekwe kwa mfuko,” he said
“I’m not saying this because I hate anybody; I want us to show each other what really we are in Azimio.”
The President cautioned Azimio MPs and senators against being bribed ahead of today’s election of the Speakers of Parliament.
“Do not allow yourself to be bought. Ukinunuliwa (when you agree to be bought) you will regret it. Its time to show whether you will be bought at a price of Sh5, or stand with 50 million Kenyans,” he said.
To underscore his point, the President played an audio clip of the late Tanzania President Pombe Magufuli who fought against corruption.
The retiring Head of State, who is the chairman of Azimio, asked the leaders to remain loyal and resilient so that they can oversight the new administration.
According to sources who attended the closed-door meeting, the President said Parliament was he last line of defence in protecting the welfare of wananchi. “The President implored us to remain united and use our strength in numbers to ensure everything is on truck. The meeting also discussed how to mobilise their bases to remain united,” said an MP-elect from Western Kenya.
“Actually, the issue of remaining united as a coalition was one of the main agenda as well as how we can use our numbers to push through our Azimio dream for the country.”
The meeting also reflected on their election loss, with the President admitting that some of his advisers may have let him down.
The team nominated Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka for the Senate Speaker seat and Kenneth Marende for the Speaker of the National Assembly to be deputised by Stewart Madzayo and Farah Maalim respectively. Outgoing Murang’a Women Rep Sabina Chege said the meeting sought to solidify the unity of Azimio while crafting a strategy to win Independent candidates to vote alongside Azimio.
She noted that after the resignation of Wetang’ula, Kenya Kwanza will have 23 Senators against 22 from Azimio and exuded confidence that it will be easy for them to get one Senator to back their Speaker candidate.
“We have crafted a team to lure independent elected leaders on our side so that they (Kenya Kwanza) may have the Executive while we have the control of legislature while Judiciary remains independent,” said the Nominated MP-elect.
“The President and Raila urged us to remain united despite failing to clinch the presidency and they pledged to remain firmly with us to see to it that we are not swallowed by the ruling administration.”
ODM Chairman John Mbadi said other than lobbying leaders across the political divide, they are also banking on quality and competence of their candidates.
He said Mr Marende, Mr Maalim and Mr Kalonzo have experience to handle the job having been Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
“If the elected leaders are looking for competence and quality leadership then we have them, all the elected leaders should go for our candidates to appreciate competence in bid to provide credible oversight to the ruling administration,” said Mr Mbadi.
However, he regretted that their opponents were “buying off” their members in bid to outnumber them.
Another MP from Coast said although there was general agreement that Azimio was robbed of victory, the meeting discussed their performance.
“There was candid talk about what we could have done better in the campaign especially on campaign funds and materials,” the MP said.
A source said the criteria used to settle on today’s candidates was based on the number of seats each has.
Kalonzo’s party has 25 MPs and three senators whereas Marende’s DAP-Kenya got five MPs.
The Azimio coalition has a slim majority of 167-158 over Kenya Kwanza in the National Assembly, but the Ruto side has wooed about 15 MPs from Azimio affiliate parties and 12 Independents.
They include seven MPs from UDM, three from Pamoja Africa Alliance, Maendeleo Chap Chap,(2), Upia two and one from the National Alliance Party.
With the resignation of Mr Wetang’ula, the Senate race is a tie with Kenya Kwanza and Azimio having 23 senators each.
Nairobi County Azimio leaders took the opportunity to reprimand parties that ditched the coalition after the declaration of Dr Ruto as president-elect.
While accusing them of disloyalty, the leaders urged the leaders to “come back home” so that they can fulfill their promises to Kenyans.
“None of us is available for sale. We only have one message,” said Nairobi Senator-elect and ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna.
“If you were elected within Azimio, you are a fraud of you joined any other coalition. We are not beggars and will not run away from our responsibility. We shall remain in Azimio we are not greedy. The greedy ones are the ones rushing to be bought,” he said.
Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said: “We have been directed to support Azimio in Parliament and we will support our nominees by all means.”