The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga toured Msambweni constituency in Kwale County to drum up support for the party’s nominee Omar Boga in the December 15 by-election.
The tour of the top ODM official comes at a time the fight for votes hots up as the various candidates in the parliamentary race are making last-ditch efforts to woo the electorate.
In the last leg of campaigning political parties and the candidates in the fray are holding up to seven meetings in a day ahead of the mini-poll scheduled for Tuesday next week.
The ODM party nominee Omar Boga and independent candidate Feisal Bader are seen as the favourites in the by-poll to win the race in which five other candidates are contesting.
Others in the race are Charles Bilali (Independent), Marere Wamwachai (National Vision Party), Hassan Mwakulonda (Party of Economic Democracy), Mahmoud Sheikh (Wiper Party) and Khamis Mwakaonje (United Green Movement) and Mansury Kumaka (Independent).
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there were no large public rallies and road shows with the parties and candidates resorting to small targeted public meetings and door-to-door campaigns.
Raila on Thursday pitched tent in Msambweni and implored the electorate to rally behind the ODM flag bearer in the impending mini polls as the campaign enters a crucial stage.
The former Prime Minister who was accompanied in the vote hunt by ODM Senators Issa Boy (Kwale), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Mohamed Faki (Mombasa) and Kwale County Woman Rep Zulekha Hassan expressed confidence of ODM winning the by-election.
The ODM party leader who was on a whirlwind tour of the constituency said he was in the poll area to consolidate support for the party’s nominee ahead of the by-election occasioned by the death of area MP Suleiman Dori in March.
In his various campaign stops Raila reminded the people that the late MP was a strong member of ODM and urged the electorate to come out in large numbers and vote for Boga.
He said Msambweni would realize more development if the people chose the ODM candidate who enjoys the backing of his party and that of the ruling jubilee party.
The cosmopolitan constituency has 69,377 registered voters spread in the four wards of Ramisi, Kinondo, Bongwe-Gombato and Ukunda.
Senators Issa Boy, Stewart Madzayo and Mohamed Faki said ODM is making an all-out bid to ensure its candidate got the highest number of votes in the by-election due in five days.
The trio said Msambweni was last represented in parliament by an ODM legislator and that the poll area was still a stronghold of the party and declared that the voters in the region will teach their opponents a lesson.
They said the party despite its popularity in the area is campaigning relentlessly and leaving nothing to chance to lock out their competitors urging the eligible electorate to turn up in their numbers and cast their votes on December 15.
The ODM party nominee Omar Boga, a former civic leader, reached out to the voters to back his candidature saying he was capable of uniting the people and transforming the constituency.
He said Msambweni hosts a flourishing tourism industry owing to its proximity to the Indian Ocean and needs a leader who can tap the potential in the sector to help reduce poverty and unemployment in the area.
Boga pledged to conduct issue-based and violence-free campaigns saying he was a peace-loving candidate determined to meet the aspirations of the poor.
Raila while on the campaign trail also took the opportunity to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report saying the forthcoming by-election would be a test run for the anticipated constitutional referendum next year.
He observed that the BBI process seeks to address the problems that have bedeviled the country since independence in 1963 such as impunity, runaway corruption, land grabbing and negative ethnicity.
“The BBI stands for inclusivity and shared prosperity and deserves the support of all Kenyans who mean well for the country,” he said.
He said Kenyans should back the BBI proposals without reservations as it seeks to increase money sent to the devolved units from 15 per cent to 35 per cent leading to meaningful development and quality services at the grassroots.
The former PM said Msambweni and the larger coast region are faced with historical land injustices dating pre-independence which he said can be resolved amicably if the BBI report is endorsed in the envisaged plebiscite to become a law.
He said the BBI seeks to unlock the potential of the blue economy offered by oceanic resources saying it was the next frontier of development that would uplift people out of poverty.
By Hussein Abdullahi