It’s do or die in Kibra for Raila and Ruto
With just two days left before the people of Kibra elect their next Member of Parliament in a mini-poll, the battle for votes seems destined for a fight to the death by two of the foremost political protagonists in the country.
Ironically, while neither of them will be on the ballot box, the Kibra by-election has turned into a face off between ODM party leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.
RAILA’S BEDROOM INVADED
Indeed, on the penultimate day for the campaigns on Sunday, both Ruto and Raila descended on Kibra in a last minute effort to sway the votes in favour of their respective candidates.
And as if to confirm that this will, for all intents and purposes, be a showdown between the two senior politicians, Ruto’s camp cheekily gloated over their invasion of Raila’s bedroom with their aiming being to ‘sire’ development in the slum constituency.
Raila, on his part, threw down the gauntlet, challengin the DP to what he termed as a mighty contest pitting Handshake Combined against Tanga Tanga Combined.
Ruto’s and Raila’s proxies in the parliamentary seat, which fell vacant following the death of Ken Okoth, are retired football player McDonald Mariga (Jubilee party) and Okoth’s brother Bernard Imran Okoth.
The other big name on the ballot paper will be ANC candidate Eliud Owalo, although, Okoth and Mariga will start as clear favourites.
All the three parties intensified their campaigns over the few months to drum support for their respective candidates.
Although Kibra is largely perceived to as an ODM and Odinga bastion – it is where he built his illustrious political career – Ruto seems to be relishing the opportunity to give the former Prime Minister a bloody nose on his home turf.
As such, the former Prime Minister is keen to maintain his status in what has been his political bedrock for more than three decades by recapturing the seat.
On the other hand, a win for Jubilee would be a perfect opportunity for Ruto to water down Odinga’s influence in Nairobi politics and also prove that the latter may not be a big threat to his State House ambitions in 2022, if he decides to make yet another stab at the Presidency.
And while Ruto and Odinga have been going at each other in Kibra, President Uhuru Kenyatta has kept a safe distance from this slugfest between his principal deputy in government and his political nemesis-turned-partner.
Except for a widely-publicized meeting at State House Nairobi where he seemingly endorsed Mariga, the president has largely been detached from the unfolding drama in Kibra.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, all 24 candidates have promised heaven for the people of Kibra, including fixing education for Kibra children, improved infrastructure, creating jobs for the youth and women as well as tackling insecurity and waste management.
It remains to be seen if after Thursday November 7, 2019, these political promises will be fulfilled or they will quickly turn into empty promises.