Hustler “wave” could be noise of overzealous hangers-on, gusto of sprinter running against self
By MYLES LEO
There is every indication that Deputy President Ruto’s Hustler Nation will crumble faster than a house of cards in a week or two. The man who has created a perception that he is a national political colossus by planting hecklers in every part of the country his perceived opponents intended to visit will soon realise that it was all vanity.
Or so it seems.
Just over a week ago, for instance, the Ruto wave looked unbeatable in the Mt Kenya Region. When Murang’a Senator and Majority Senate Whip Irungu Kang’ata penned his otherwise overrated letter ostensibly to President Uhuru Kenyatta but intended to impress his Tangatanga base through the mass media, many got the wrong impression that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) towards a United Kenya Constitutional Amendment Bill had little or no fighting chance in the region. The Hustler nation, that amorphous movement led by Dr Ruto and his Tangatanga team (and associated pretenders) have vowed to oppose and beat the BBI Bill that is fronted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader Raila Odinga.
But the actual ground looks very different from the one Mr Kang’ata painted.
It is growing clearer by the day that the Mt Kenya region will be one of the smoothest terrains through which the BBI train will cruise, if the events of the last seen days are anything to go by.
When President Uhuru visited his Mt Kenya backyard last week in an apparent move to find out whether there was any real threat to his authority, everyone that matters seemed to fall over each other to assure him and the rest of the country that his home was, indeed, secure. In a matter of minutes, ten of the so called Mountain counties had declared, and committed, to pass the BBI bill without hesitation when it gets to the floor of their various houses. The ten included Kang’ata’s Murang’a.
The assurance by Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Laikipia Nakuru and Murang'a County Assemblies was made Friday at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County during a meeting between the Head of State and 550 Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) and their respective leadership teams.
Led by their County Assembly Speakers and House Leaders, the MCAs said they back the BBI process because it will allocate more development resources to the grassroots and help solve challenges facing wananchi such as inadequate bursaries.
This assurance can only mean two things: Either Kang’ata was lying to the Deputy President or he (Kang’ata) had been lied to. Or both.
And more surprises seem to be on the way for those who genuinely thought that Mr Kenyatta, and the BBI, could lose the Central support!
We are informed by media reports that President Kenyatta has changed tack in his campaign to popularise the BBI in the region and counter the DP’s seeming influence.
The new strategy includes personally taking charge of the referendum campaigns, punishing rebel MPs, dishing out goodies to key target groups and building consensus with leaders across the political divide.
President Kenyatta will take charge of the referendum campaigns to have proposals to change the Constitution passed. He will hold nationwide meetings starting with Mt Kenya before moving to other regions, while accompanied by friendly governors and MPs.
The President, we hear, has also launched a political onslaught against Dr Ruto’s allies. The mountain is on fire, literally.
President Kenyatta’s Jubilee and Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM have launched twin attacks on anyone showing the slightest sign of disloyalty. One of the first casualties is nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura. Mr Mwaura is a two-time beneficiary of both the President and the former Prime Minister’s sympathy as he has been nominated to Parliament, first by ODM and now by Uhuru’s Jubilee. But he has lately been exhibiting serious signs of biting the hands that have fed him for years and are still feeding him.
Uhuru’s Jubillee is keen on punishing him for violating the party constitution by “pledging allegiance to another party, acting in a manner that is disloyal to Jubilee party and contravening the Jubilee party code of conduct” while Raila’s ODM has written a formal complaint to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) over Mr Mwaura’s utterances which it says border on incitement to violence.
“Just a week ago, nominated Senator Isaack Mwaura was captured on video inciting violence ahead of a visit by the Rt Hon Raila Odinga to Githurai. He had both a tribal and class message; that people of Hon Odinga’s tribe were not welcome to Githurai and that the so called hustlers should rise up and defeat the dynasties,” ODM’s disability league chairperson Nickson Kakiri writes in the letter dated February 1, 2021.
That smells like real trouble for Mr Mwaura.
And even as the Mountain reaffirmed its loyalty to kingpin Kenyatta and the BBI, hundreds of Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) from other regions of the country on Tuesday trooped to Co-operative University in Nairobi’s Caren to assure Mr Odinga that their assemblies were waiting anxiously to pass the BBI bill.
This begs the question whether the much publicised hustler nation countrywide support was just in the minds of overzealous but noisy hangers-on or just a misplaced confidence of a sprinter who was running against himself.
Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected].