Kenya's Medical Services minister and ODM party Secretary General, Anyang’ Nyongo addresses Kenyans in Boston during a recent visit as Mercy Kamau, the ODM-USA Advisory Council leader in the North East looks on. To the left is Bishop Joshua Wambua the director of the Kenya Diaspora Advisory Council, New England (KDAC-NE) and Paul Muite, also a member of KDAC-NE. Pic by H.MAINA/AJABU MEDIA
By Chris Wamalwa,Posted Oct 30, 2012
Prime Minister Raila Odinga has put in place a campaign network and fundraising machinery in the US as he steps up his hunt for Diaspora vote.
The Kenyan Diaspora, spread around the world but mostly concentrated in the US, Canada, UK and South Africa, is set to vote for the first time in the country’s history, thanks to the new Constitution.
The campaign structure to be implemented under the auspices of ODM-USA and Friends of Raila (Fora) is already causing jitters among US-based supporters of Raila’s presidential seat opponents.
The strategy said to have been approved by the PM in the company of a team of his top advisers during a short tour of the US recently, is designed to cover the entire US.
At the top of ‘Raila for President’ US campaign is ODM-USA Advisory Council composed of Raila’s long time supporters and fundraisers.
Recruitment of members
These include known names like Boston-based Mercy Kamau, Sam Osamba (Dallas), MASS, Sam Dawson (Texas), John Akumu (Washington, DC), George Osewe (North Carolina) and John Maina of the PM’s office. Others are Delphnie Ogega, Siyad Abdullahi, Samwel Oyugi, Robert Nyangudi, Mark Tindi and George Omburo.
The members of the campaign team, many of who are from Raila’s past campaigns, will be charged with mobilising resources – human and material – for the PM’s presidential bid, recruitment of members, carrying out civic education and organising local activities, among other assignments.
The Raila US campaign has divided the country into what they are calling US regions for the 2012 election campaign. The regions are Northeast (New England and Middle Atlantic), Midwest (East North Central and West North Central), South (South Atlantic, East South Central and West South Central), South Atlantic and West comprising States like Arizona, Colorado, California, and Washington, among others.
Releasing the campaign plan at the weekend, Dallas-based Sam Osamba said they have been working on the strategy for some time and were confident it would deliver the PM and ODM huge victories in the US.
Mercy Kamau, leader of ODM-USA Advisory Council leader in the North East and also a member of the KDAC-NE.Pic by H.MAINA/AJABU MEDIA
“We believe the Diaspora vote is going to prove crucial especially in a situation where there is a second run off. These are people who have tasted the fruits of democratic leadership and functional institutions and who are on the side of reforms,” he said.
Osamba, who is said to be one of Raila’s trusted point man, said they would have field officers in all the States they are targeting.
“Unlike our rivals who concentrate their activities and campaigns in states and regions they perceive to have more people from their tribes, the PM is a national leader and ODM is a national movement. So we will try to reach every Kenyan even those in Alaska because we believe their vote and support counts,” he said.
Recently, ODM conducted a recruitment drive in Dallas, Texas, with Kenyans signing up as members and party supporters.
Dr George Omburo of Jersey City told The Standard they were planning to use their comprehensive network to organise a series of recruitment drives around the US, with a launch of the exercise expected to take place in the New York/New Jersey area. The function, which will be attended by Raila, is being organised by Fora-USA in conjunction with ODM-USA.
Conflicting reports from Nairobi concerning the Diaspora vote have caused confusion among likely voters, with decision by IEBC to put polling stations only at embassies, High Commissions and consulates making some to lose in the historical event.
Access voting centres
Analysts argue that if this position is upheld, only a very small fraction of the Diaspora will take part in the exercise due the expenses and time wastage associated with having to travel long distances to access voting centres.
Osamba said they believe that Kenya is going to conduct one of the most important elections in the country’s forty-nine years history, with the new Constitution expected to level the playing field for most people. “To this end, all hands are needed on deck to ensure that we elect leaders who have the will and energy to implement that constitution,” He said.