Chasing the big interview on the campaign trail

Sunday August 6 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and his deputy William Ruto shake hands during a rally at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on August 5, 2017. Mr Kenyatta said violence will not be condoned. PHOTO | CHARLES KIMANI | DPPS 

By JOHN KAMAU
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It was a fast ride from State House — and we were to follow President Uhuru Kenyatta to the heart of Maasailand, to have a feel of his campaign.

So far, we were told, and before the campaigns ended on Saturday in Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium — where his campaigns started — President Kenyatta would have made 503 stopovers in all the counties apart from Siaya, the home ground of Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

NETWORK

This compares to Raila’s 184 stops and an estimated 60 press statements and news conferences.

“It’s going to be a long drive,” Mr Manoah Esipisu, the State House spokesman, commented as he alighted from the vehicle.

But it was not the worst. “We have been rained on too in this campaign.

"In Kiwawa, West Pokot, we had to rely on Uganda’s communication network.”

PLEDGES
“Tell the leaders who are calling for violence to bring their children to the frontline first,” Mr Kenyatta tells a cheering crowd in Lang’ata where he called for the six-piece voting pattern in Nairobi County.

We then descend to the Rift Valley towards Rongai.

He was not supposed to make a stopover here, but he addresses two rallies, promising locals a sewer system, water and a dual carriage.

RONGAI

It is now 1pm and he has to make it to the Nakuru rally.

Ni kipindi cha lala salama, msitusahau (we are in the homestretch, do not forget us),” the Head of State tells the crowd in Rongai before he is driven away.

“There was no way he was going to pass that crowd,” Mr Esipisu says.

The campaign has covered hundreds of thousands of kilometres on road and air, touching all corners of Kenya.

BRANDING

At Kiserian, he is joined by his running mate William Ruto — who had come from launching the upgrading of Kilgoris-Emurua Dikirr Road to bitumen standard.

The two address a rally flanked by their gubernatorial candidate Joseph ole Lenku, a former CS for Interior, and the local poll hopefuls.

Almost everyone here in is party colours.

“The distribution of party merchandise was left to a logistics company and not politicians,” the spokesman tells me on the strategy they employed to brand the party.

VIOLENCE
It was in Narok town that we finally caught up with the President and he left the campaign track for another interview with the Nation.

“We have put stringent measures to ensure that no post-election violence occurs in this country.

"The security agents have a free hand to deal with anyone, including my supporters, if they are involved in any form of violence,” Mr Kenyatta tells us.

It is a statement he had uttered on his previous stops — where he pleaded with the locals to vote for him.

ROADS
In all the rallies he attended, the President told the Nation that Kenyans are challenging them to do more roads and make more power connections.

“They acknowledge that we have done many things and we shall continue doing more.”