NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 7 – ODM leader Raila Odinga has shifted focus of his campaigns to the ‘hustlers’, who are well known in Kenya as small businesses and people who struggle on a day to day basis to put food on the table.
This is a group largely seen as a solid vote base for Deputy President William Ruto who coined the tag, ‘hustler nation’ with a ‘bottom-up’ approach which he says will help uplift them, in what has been dismissed by his critics and competitors.
On Monday, Odinga met boda boda riders in Nairobi where he assured them of his support should he win next year’s presidential election in which he hopes to succeed incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta whose second and final term will come to an end on September 7, 2021.
“We have a comprehensive plan to address the plight of suffering hustlers, not piecemeal solutions being propagated by some persons who want to use you to ascend to power,’ Raila said in apparent reference to Ruto.
Ruto has fashioned himself as the ultimate solution to the problems facing the people at the bottom of the pyramid, often accusing top leaders of concentrating too much in power-sharing.
“They only think about themselves but I assure you that with your support, we will establish a government that cares about you,” Ruto told a roadside rally in Githurai on Sunday.
But his critics accuse him of hoodwinking the youth and jobless to elect him to power, accusing him of being part of the elite which has enjoyed executive power for years. Ruto has been an MP, Cabinet Minister in the former President Mwai Kibaki and is the current Deputy President since 2013.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i last week told a parliamentary security committee that Ruto had amassed wealth in a very short time in office, listing his 5 helicopters, two high-end hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa as well as thousands of acres of land and other property which are always guarded by police.
He had been summoned to explain why the state withdrew General Service Unit (GSU) officers from Ruto’s residences and replaced by Administration Police officers, in what the Interior CS described as “normal changes.”
Raila has now shifted focus to target Ruto’s ‘hustlers’ saying he holds the key to their problems.
The former Prime Minister met the boda boda riders at Chungwa House in Nairobi where he outlined some of the solutions to their challenges, including a pledge to seek partnership with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to uplift them.
“That is why you see me giving an example of Toyota; a bicycle mechanic , who graduated to be a motorbike mechanic and rose to be the manufacturer of Toyota car brands, which is a global name,” Raila said, “Everything starts at the bottom of the pyramid, a boda boda rider just like Toyota can be helped to realise full potential to greater heights, so that he can catch up with the big boys at the top.”
The riders’ representatives told Raila that their main challenge was insecurity and harassment by security forces and enforcement officers, particularly in Nairobi.
“We will get a solution to your problems,” Raila pledged