Deputy President Ruto unveils vision for residents in Raila turf
Deputy President William Ruto yesterday showed his intent to raid his political rival and ODM party leader Raila Odinga’s backyard when he held a two-day retreat with grassroots leaders from Nyanza region in Gilgil, Nakuru county.
In the meeting which was attended by more than 500 representatives from all the six counties, Ruto unveiled his vision for the region pledging to revive the agriculture sector and particularly the sugar industry, blue economy and small and micro-enterprises.
While challenging his opponents to give Kenyans a better alternative to his bottom-up economic model instead of what he termed as pointless criticism, the Deputy President said he will use this model to spur growth in the grassroots.
He said he will mainly focus on infrastructure, high value crops such as coffee and bananas and also boost the cotton industry by reviving Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi).
The Deputy President also said he will boost tourism and mining, which he noted has not been fully tapped.
And, addressing the press after hours of closed-door deliberations, a buoyant Ruto said he was glad he had changed the conversation ahead of the 2022 presidential contest.
“A year ago, I promised Kenyans that we will change the conversation and as I stand here today, I am a proud Kenyan because we have indeed changed it and today every leader has somehow been forced to have a conservation of sorts about the economy,” he said.
“Kenyans are no longer discussing tribal alliances or sharing of positions. Hustlers are not interested in tribal alliances but matters of the economy and ideas to improve their lives,” Ruto said.
“Today marks exactly one year to the General Election and I am very happy that on this day we are discussing matters of the economy… our opponents should not feel intimidated by our superior economic model,” he added.
Ruto challenged his rivals to explain how the trickle-down economic model can do, which it has not done in the past years.
And regarding the current state of the Jubilee administration and his fractious relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto said he can only account for their first term.
Citing the Standard Gauge Railway, last mile electrification and road expansion, he maintained he actively participated in the formulation of these ideas.
“My footprints in these policy achievements are there for everybody to see… At least I can account for the first term, for the second term there are other people who can account for it,” he stated.
He blamed the March 9, 2018 Handshake between President Uhuru and Raila for the “collapse” of the Jubilee administration, saying the Big Four Agenda had been pushed to the backburner.
“When Nasa invaded our government, they hijacked the policy direction instead of the Big Four Agenda. We were told that changing the Constitution was an emergency,” he said.
Asked if he would consider resigning, he said: “I am surprised that people who did not participate in my decision to run as a deputy president are suddenly interested in how I will proceed from here. It is none of your business!” he exclaimed.
The meeting represents a new strategy by Ruto to invade areas considered as strongholds of Raila.
“We have had a productive consultative meeting with elected leaders, professionals, civil society and other stakeholders from the Nyanza region,” he said, adding: “This is part of the ongoing Hustler Nation discourse that puts issues of ordinary people at the centre of political conversation.”
He added: “This is a new paradigm shift premised on freeing our country from ethnic politics and conversations that is only centred on leaders.
I challenge my opponents to show us their track record because some have been ministers, vice presidents and prime ministers but they have none.”
And, he promised to take his bottom-up economic model to residents in the near future.
He said he has the track record, citing the reforms he introduced as Cabinet Minister in former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.
He specifically pointed at his stint as the Minister of Higher Education, saying he personally spearheaded reforms in the sector by shifting focus and resources to the Technical and Vocational Education Training.
Kisii county Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, who was one of the conveners, said the bottom-up strategy is the way to go in order to spur economic growth from the grassroots to the top.
“We know there are those opposing it, but that is normal because human beings normally resist change before embracing it,” he said.
On her part, Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga said the political conversation in the country had changed, noting that Kenyans were only interested in those who will present better ideas that transform their lives.
Others who attended the meeting included South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro, East African Court of Justice Judge Charles Nyachae, former MPs Omingo Magara, Mathew Okindo, former Kitutu Chache parliamentary aspirant Anthony Kibagendi as well as businessman Eliud Owalo among a host of other leaders.