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General Karangi takes over Jubilee campaign in Nyeri – PHOTOS

President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched a direct appeal to Nyeri youth to register as voters as former Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi held a crisis meeting with leaders in the county over low numbers recorded.

Only 30,000 voters have registered in Nyeri county against a target of 130,000 with seven days to go. This is the lowest rate in any of Jubilee’s strongholds.

“Please do not wait until the last minute. The BVR machine can only register 80 people a day,” said the President in a message released on social media written in Kikuyu.

His efforts came as General Karangi, who is also the Kenya Airports Authority chairman, took over the mobilisation drive from Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguli.

Interestingly, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua also attended the meeting where she drummed up support for Uhuru re-election.

SH80 MILLION BUDGET

During the meeting at GreenHills hotel on Monday, Nyeri leaders complained that CSs and PSs sent to the region to mobilise voters are misusing the Sh80m meant for the exercise by spending it in hotels and other luxuries.

“We cannot be spending money in hotels yet the youths mobilising voters are going hungry,” said the aspirants.

Elected leaders and aspirants also accused the team of favouring one side.

 Retired Chief of the General Staff Julius Karangi makes a phone call during a meeting with political aspirants from Nyeri county at GreenHills hotel in Nyeri town on February 6, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

Retired Chief of the General Staff Julius Karangi makes a phone call during a meeting with political aspirants from Nyeri county at GreenHills hotel in Nyeri town on February 6, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

Mr Karangi who was flanked by Information and Technology CS Joe Mucheru, Health PS Nicholas Muraguri and Kikuyu Council of Elders National Chair Wachira Kiago, called for unification between aspiring and sitting leaders for the drive .

“We have agreed that we will work as a team in the final stretch of the exercise because the goal is similar for all of us,” said the former army boss.

A joint secretariat will also be selected to spearhead the final days of the campaigns and not only will it have a new strategy, it will be under the watch of Mr Karangi.

CONSPICOUSLY ABSENT

However, most elected leaders from the county were conspicuously absent despite receiving an invite with only three MPs, Kanini Kega (Kieni), Ndung’u Gethenji (Tetu) and Pricilla Nyokabi (County), showing up. Mr Kega and Ms Nyokabi however left shortly after.

Aspiring candidates, sitting and opinion leaders have been at war over the formula of sharing the moneys that have come from wealthy financers under the Mount Kenya Foundation and the Jubilee Party secretariat.

Top officials in the secretariat including cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and parastatal handling the finances have been accused of hoarding money meant for the exercise.

During the meeting held in Nyeri town, aspirants claimed the secretariat mainly from Nairobi has been using the funds for luxuries as youth who lead the groundwork are singled out.

Political aspirants and grassroot leaders during the meeting chaired by former Chief of the General Staff Julius Karangi at GreenHills hotel in Nyeri town on February 6, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI
Political aspirants and grassroot leaders during the meeting chaired by former Chief of the General Staff Julius Karangi at GreenHills hotel in Nyeri town on February 6, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

A section of aspirants and incumbents are also said to be secretly benefitting from the kitty in unscrupulous dealings.

This, it is believed, has caused the lack of facilitation for youth and boda boda operators hired to do the campaigns consequently. Some of the youth have already pulled out due to frustrations as some were being paid as little as Sh150 for a day’s work of campaigns.

DOOR TO DOOR DRIVE

The new secretariat will include representatives from all parties involved, a move geared at ending disgruntlements among the teams. In the new formula, campaigners will carry out a door to door drive and minimize the traditional roadshows in town centres.

“If you want to hire trucks and move around town shouting, that is fine. But be sure it will not work. We are starting a door to door campaign immediately and we will do it as a team,” he said.

As of Sunday only 32,223 new voters have been registered out of a potential 290,000 eligible voters, 120,000 being youth. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is targeting to hit 161,359 voters in Nyeri by Tuesday next week a figure Mr Karangi says will not be achieved.

“The set target cannot be achieved but we want to improve what we have already,” said the former chief of defence.