Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka on Monday accepted the Wiper Democratic Movement’s nomination to vie for the presidency with a pledge to fight poverty and create jobs if elected.
He will now either face Prime Minister Raila Odinga in their coalition nomination, or reach consensus on who between them should be the presidential flag bearer for their Cord Alliance.
Speaking at the Wiper convention after delegates endorsed him, Mr Musyoka said his government would prioritise the fight against poverty, unemployment and disease if he triumphs during the presidential election.
“I am running for President to lead a movement of Kenyans to confront these challenges head on, with the sharpest focus and greatest energy. A movement that seeks to transform Kenya. I don’t need a focus group, opinion poll or research study to know the major issues that affect wananchi,” he told the 3,000 delegates who had assembled at the Sports complex to endorse his candidature.
Mr Odinga was endorsed as the ODM presidential candidate last Friday. (Read: Cord hints at endorsing PM Odinga for race)
Mr Odinga and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula, who alongside Mr Musyoka are the principal partners in the Cord alliance attended Monday’s function and congratulated the VP for the endorsement.
Speakers at the function led by Wiper party chairman David Musila urged Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga to enter into a gentlemen’s agreement to decide who between them runs for presidency.
“Go and lock yourselves in a room and give us someone who will run for the presidency. If you cannot agree, involve the elders so that this is done within five days because time is of the essence,” Mr Musila said.
Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga, however, steered clear of the issue in their speeches.
Besides endorsing Mr Musyoka’s presidential bid, the delegates also ratified the party’s decision to join the coalition and filled vacant positions in the National Executive Council.
The changes saw Mr Musila replace Information Minister Samuel Poghisio who decamped to the United Republican Party (URP) as the party’s national chairman with Nominated MP Mohammed Affey, Ms Jenipher Masis and Joshua Leparashau as the first, second and third national vice chairpersons respectively.
Kaiti MP Gideon Ndambuki is the new national organising secretary while Nominated MP Shakila Abdalla is the deputy secretary general. Lawyer Okong’o Omogeni was named Mr Musyoka’s adviser on coalition matters.
Mr Musyoka used the occasion to urge Kenyans to register as voters before the December 18 deadline saying it was the ticket to a better future. (Read: IEBC registers 8.6m voters by week three)
Describing himself as a “sufferer” — street language for the poor — Mr Musyoka relived the hardships he endured while growing up in deprivation and said he would devote his presidency to eradicating poverty.
He noted that what Kenya lacked was a leadership that gives to Kenya and not one that plunders national wealth. “We need a leadership that gives to Kenya; not one that takes from Kenyans. This spirit ought to be embraced by our public servants, the private sector and all our citizens,” he stated.
He expressed confidence that the Cord Alliance would triumph during the March 4 election saying that he had agreed to bury his bitter differences with Mr Odinga in order to give Kenyans a government that will deliver them from poverty, unemployment and disease.
Mr Musyoka said that government would address food security in the country with emphasis on irrigation as opposed to reliance on rain-fed agriculture.
He spoke passionately about the need to transform healthcare to provide better access to quality and affordable medical care.
“Our constitution now guarantees basic healthcare for all Kenyans. It will be the work of my administration to ensure that no Kenyan dies due to gross professional negligence, demotivated staff, or poor diagnosis equipment,” he promised.
On his part, Mr Odinga said the Cord Alliance represented the ideals that informed the formation of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) in 2002 while the Jubilee Alliance which brings together deputy Prime Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto was “a re-union of former Kanu diehards”.
“We remain the force for good that we were in 2010 when we said Yes to the then proposed constitution, that is liberating Kenya today”, he said.
He said the Cord Alliance would ensure unity, dignity and equality and an indivisible Kenya, where every community, every region and every citizen gets a fair share of the national cake.
“Never should one part of Kenya wallow in plenty while another struggles in want. We must never again have two, three or four nations in one,” he said.
Mr Wetang’ula also warned Kenyans against electing leaders who preached the politics of exclusion saying that Kenya belonged to all the 42 communities.
“This country will not go forward with the politics of exclusion. This country will not go forward with those who think that they were born to lord over everybody else,” he stated.