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Raila's grand reception in Moiben foretells tough battle for North Rift vote in 2017

In Moiben, Raila was received rapturously, sending clear signal to Jubilee that is busy warding off filthy flies of corruption riddling the regime, that he is gaining more popularity in the Rift Valley, contrary to popular opinion.

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 11 Nov 2016 12:07 EAT

Raila Odinga addressing residents of Moiben, Uasin Gishu, after being crowned an elder on Tuesday. (Photo: Free Press Correspondent).

The storm petrel of the Kenyan politics is of late gaining more political currency in the vote-rich Rift valley region that is extensively considered the ruling coalition’s vote bank. A feasible rumour winging in Eldoret town has it that, a large segment the people in the Rift Valley feel that “their” government has disgustingly betrayed them. Their interests are not protected and advanced! “We can't afford to rally our spirited support behind political elites who are not interested in advancing our collective agendas! We are fed up with empty promises meted out on us in every electioneering cycle...”, emotionally remarked one Kalenjin political activist in Eldoret town a couple of days ago.

Remember the region in question massively supported the CORD supremo, Rt Hon Raila Odinga in 2007,in his quest for the presidency. The current DP of the Republic of Kenya, who was then one of the Orange Pentagon members, zealously campaigned for the ODM party leader, incontrovertibly delivering a landslide vote in Mr Odinga's favour. Thus, making many a political analyst consider the current country's second man in the chain of command, rightly or wrongly so, as the Kalenjin kingpin.

Until his acrimonious political divorce with the Kenya's political maestro on the eve of the 2013 general election, Mr Ruto was one of Mr Odinga's fiercest right hand men. Let me not belabour the details of what led to their post 2007 unceremonious and bitter political divorce... Well, the Kalenjin Nation feel a profound sense of betrayal running through their veins. They bemoan of being cleverly short-changed, in full glare of their leaders. There's a sinking feeling that what they were promised by the ruling coalition was never to be!

Which beggars the question: Who took the “Kalenjins' national pie” before the eyes of their representative[s]? True, it has now dawned on the Kalenjins that whoever was sent to safeguard and advance their avalanche of interests if any, is either “sleeping on the job” or enriching himself at the expense of the wider Kalenjin population. This has, unarguably, opened windows for other political contestants eyeing for the top seat, presidency. This is Jubilee's self-inflicted political blunder! The UhuRuto administration will have itself to squarely lay blame on.

Politically calculative Mr Odinga enters the Jubilee's stronghold. This is happening at a time when the political undertones in the larger part of the North Rift is extensively felt beyond the region. The Marakwets of the North Rift, the Kerio Valley of death, have shifted their political allegiance from the powers-that-be due to the nasty realisation that the Jubilee government which they overwhelmingly voted for is paying lip service to the battle against the snowballing banditry attacks along the Kerio Valley. What do they [Marakwets] say? It is better being in opposition or to try someone else than to maintain political allegiances to an ignorant regime.

Do we need a prophet's eye to see Mr Odinga's political popularity gaining traction in Marakwet? Does it, ladies and gentlemen, astound you when you are told the Kenya's Teflon politician [read arap Mibey] was, on Tuesday this week, accorded a heroic welcome in the Kerio Valley of death, as many mainstream media call it?

In Moiben, Uasin-Gishu county, Mr Odinga was received rapturously, sending clear signal to the Jubilee Alliance that is busy warding off filthy flies of corruption riddling the regime, that he is gaining more popularity in the Rift Valley, contrary to what the insincere Jubilee sycophants and henchmen/women want their bosses to believe. Yes, one thing is clear: the political climate in the Rift Valley favours any [I have used this determiner deliberately] serious presidential aspirant, in sharp contrast with the inconsistent narrative flying around that Rift Valley is solely impenetrable Jubilee heartland. This is an open hunting field.

The voters want their issues addressed rather than dramatised. They are dog-tired of “we are in the government” barren statements. They are just suffering and have to toil and moil to put food on their tables like the rest of the Kenyans who are actually or perceived to belong to the opposition. Which leads me to delve into the primary reason why Mr Odinga's growing popularity in the Kalenjin Nation should leave the ruling coalition, politically speaking, shaking in their boots.

Look, in the Rift Valley, agriculture by and large, is the economic lifeline of the people here. Any serious government worth its salt should not brush aside any grouse touching on the agricultural production, marketing, pricing, supplying, name it .It is politically costly to led the farmers' pleas for better pricing and expanded marketing of their agricultural products fall on deaf ears. And yes, this is what precisely the Jubilee government has done. As expected, the scion of Jaramogi never failed to see an opportunity screaming for exploitation here .He couldn't afford to dilly-dally seizing this heaven-sent chance.

He knows that Jubilee has dropped the farmers and insecurity-stricken people of North Rift like a hot potato! Meaning, time is ripe for the doyen of Kenya's political opposition to cement and even heighten his political popularity in the vote-rich region.

The former premier lost his political steam in the Kalenjin Nation of the Rift valley when he recklessly strutted into the touchy Mau Forest issue. He didn't understand why the then [I doubt if he's still] PNU party torch bearer, the retired president, Mr Mwai Kibaki, sat on the fence over the issue. In case he has forgotten, the ex-pm must comprehend that it was only Mau forest thing that saw his political glory suddenly diminish, in Rift valley. Nothing else.

However, as things stand now, Raila Odinga has won many Kalenjins' hearts. Given that our presidential election is a two-horse race [the rest are treated as bunch of political minnows]; either Jubilee or CORD, the fact that Mr Odinga's political clout is gathering momentum in the Rift Valley should really worry Jubilee Coalition to the roots of its existence!

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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