Uhuru, Ruto charm Nakuru residents as they wind up vote hunt

Leaders urge voters in the county to turn out in large numbers on election day.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing a Jubilee rally at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru on August 5, 2017. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • This is the place where the leaders’ Jubilee Alliance that propelled them to power was born four years ago.
  • Mr Ruto introduced all the Jubilee candidates and gave them a chance to address the crowd.
  • President Kenyatta has previously described Nakuru as Jubilee’s bedroom.
  • President Kenyatta wrapped up his appeal with a prayer for a peaceful election and victory for Jubilee.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto on Saturday wrapped up their campaigns at a charged rally attended by thousands of their supporters at the historic Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.

This is the place where the leaders’ Jubilee Alliance that propelled them to power was born four years ago.

The supporters turned out in large numbers, filling the 30,000 capacity stadium, hours before the President and his Deputy arrived to make their final appeal for votes two days to election day.

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The two made a grand entry into the stadium just before 5 pm to a rousing welcome from supporters who had been waiting patiently for them, some having started arriving at the venue as early as 7 am. The mood was reassuring.

It was a befitting climax to the aggressive re-election campaigns the two staged across the country over the past few months.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto made an impassioned plea to the close to one million voters in the cosmopolitan county to turn out in their numbers and give them another term in office.

ACHIEVEMENTS

They highlighted their achievements and promised to do even better if voters retain them in office.

“Don’t let me down,” said Mr Kenyatta.

“Will you turn up in large numbers to vote for me?” he asked the crowd, to a resounding affirmation.

“We ask you to turn out in large numbers on August 8 and give us a Jubilee governor, senator, MPs and MCAs,” he said as he called for six-piece voting for Jubilee.

“I will be a general without power if you elect me and fail to elect Jubilee candidates,” he added.

“Let’s send home the riddles guy by 8 am.”

Mr Ruto introduced all the Jubilee candidates and gave them a chance to address the crowd.

Nakuru is of great political significance for the country given its cosmopolitan nature. It is considered the epicentre of Kenya’s politics.

POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The choice of Afraha for the final rally by President Kenyatta and his deputy did not come as a surprise given the great political significance the two attach to Nakuru with regard to Jubilee politics and the formation of the current government.

At Saturday’s rally, the two acknowledged the significance Jubilee accords to the county.

“Nakuru is very important to Uhuru and Jubilee,” said the DP. “We decided to wrap up our campaigns at the centre of Kenya, where all tribes reside.”

President Kenyatta has previously described Nakuru as Jubilee’s bedroom. On Saturday, he described it as the capital of Kenyan politics.

“That’s why we are here. This is our last meeting and we decided to bring it back to where we started our politics in 2013. It is here at Afraha that we started,” said the President.

JUBILEE STRONGHOLD

In the last one year, the President and the DP have visited the county at least five times.

They spent at least three days on their last vote hunting visit in June.

The two launched President Kenyatta’s re-election bid at Afraha Stadium last year.

The devolved unit is considered a Jubilee stronghold, having voted overwhelmingly for President Kenyatta and was second after his home turf Kiambu to deliver the highest number of votes in the 2013 General Election.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing Nakuru residents during Jubilee Party's final rally at Afraha Stadium. PHOTO | PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

It was at Afraha that the coalition was formed prior to the 2013 General Election. At the time, Mr Kenyatta’s TNA and Mr Ruto’s URP sealed their merger deal.

The two principals held their thanksgiving rally at Afraha after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court of charges relating to the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

POPULARITY

The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) has, however, posed a threat, rising in popularity in recent months. This has shaken the Jubilee bigwigs in the county.

Yesterday’s rally was, therefore, expected to neutralise Nasa’s popularity by making a last-minute appeal to Jubilee supporters to turn out in their numbers.

The President appealed for a peaceful election. He urged the youth not to accept to be misused by politicians to cause poll violence.

“Jubilee promised to unite Kenyans and maintain peace. Since 2013, as the President, I have preached that,” he said.

He wrapped up his appeal with a prayer for a peaceful election and victory for Jubilee.

“God, we pray, as we go to the election, give us peace … Let the voters exercise their right and let leaders not incite violence but uphold peace. We ask you to give us victory,” he said.

The DP gave what he described as the five reasons why the President should be re-elected.

RELIGION

According to the DP, Jubilee is the only party that has accommodated all the people in Kenya irrespective of their tribe, colour or religion.

He said Jubilee also has a good track record of development such as the construction of the standard gauge railway, 7,000 kilometres of roads and 92 referral hospitals, and the provision of free maternity health care.

He added that Jubilee had enabled 1.5 million learners not to pay examination fees and 4 million Kenyans to be connected to electricity.

“The only thing that our competitors beat us in is that they have been in power for longer,” he said.

Third, he said Jubilee is the only political party with a credible industrialisation plan that is aimed at creating 6 million jobs for the youth.

CREDIBLE PLAN

It is also the only political party with a credible plan on food production and has constructed 57 dams for irrigation, according to Mr Ruto.

Lastly, he said Jubilee believes in the good health of Kenyans and had constructed additional referral hospitals, increasing the number of Kenyans enjoying the services of the National Hospital Insurance Fund from 3.8 million to 6.8 million in the last four years and plans to increase it to 13 million beneficiaries.

SEA OF HUMANITY

The stadium was a sea of humanity from early morning, as supporters waited for the President to arrive.

When the afternoon set in, Nakuru town was a beehive of processions of vehicles ferrying supporters of various candidates.

The vehicles traversed the town, their loudspeakers blaring Jubilee praise songs.

Many other supporters of the President arrived in hired public service vehicles from as far as Nairobi and other neighbouring counties. Security was tight around the stadium, as well as within Nakuru town.

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