Revenue debate leaves Ruto, Mt Kenya allies into conflict
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
The current debate on the proposed Third Generation revenue sharing formula has put Deputy President William Ruto on a collision course with his allies in Mt Kenya
Ruto is banking on the region for support in his bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.
While leaders in opposing political camps have closed ranks to agitate for a formula that emphasises on population in computation of county resources, Ruto’s body language has been interpreted by his critics to mean that he is vouching for a formula that should also put wider consideration on land mass.
Other than Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and his Meru counterpart Mithika Linturi, who have opposed the one-man-one-shilling formula, which will see the sparsely populated county lose money, all the other leaders in the populous region, including the DP’s backers are pushing for the “one-man-one-vote-one-shilling” campaign.
Other Ruto allies opposed to the one-man-one-shilling formula include senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Christopher Lang’at (Bomet) and Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) while Samson Cherargei (Nandi) and Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio, Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Gideon Moi (Baringo) support the formula.
Ruto’s allies from the populous region have been at pains to defend his stand on the revenue sharing formula, saying it does not go against the one-man-one-shilling formula, accusing his detractors of fuelling the narrative that he is opposed to the formula.
Dr Richard Bosire, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Nairobi yesterday told People Daily that the position taken by Ruto’s close allies, Murkomen and Linturi, has created the impression that the DP is opposed to the one-man-one-shilling formula, which is favoured in the Mt Kenya region.
“If people look at this issue (revenue debate) as an important factor in an election or if the politicians will press on with that and say that he (Ruto) has abandoned them, then he is likely to lose because he will not be able to market himself to people who want more money yet they feel he is against it,” Bosire said.
About two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto differed over the issue.
The President accused senators opposing the formula, which emphasises on population instead of landmass of being unjust.
“Why should a resident of Nairobi, just because it is alleged that Nairobi is a wealthy city, yet that person living in Embakasi or Korogocho still does not have a toilet?
You are being described as rich, and therefore, you do not have the right to get money. Truth and justice will demonstrate itself and I will not wrangle with anyone,” he said.
But Ruto, while addressing leaders from Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia counties at his Sugoi home, said even though populous counties have a right to get additional resources, the marginalised ones should not register big losses, adding that senators should be left alone to decide on the issues.
Already, some of Ruto’s backers such as Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika has abandoned the DP side as far as the revenue debate is concerned, and has been siding with the Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kan’gata, who replaced her during the purge on the DP’s allies earlier in the year.
But according to Dr Bosire, Ruto may not be concerned about the consequences of the narrative that he will compromise his support in the region because “he had already lost” most of it.
“Ruto has been losing base in Mount Kenya. What he is doing now may be geared towards endearing himself in areas that have been the support base of Orange Democratic Movement, among them, Turkana, North Eastern and Coast, which are the big losers in the controversial formula,” he explained.
But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro, Ruto’s most outspoken allies in the Mt Kenya region maintain that the DP’s stand on the matter will not affect his support in the region.
Gachagua instead believes it is the leadership of the Senate, in particular Kang’ata, which has undermined the support of the formula and that Ruto is only being used as a scapegoat to cover up their failures.
“Kang’ata goofed from day one. His bravado and threats instead of persuading senators laid a bad ground for the formula.
They packaged it as a Mt Kenya thing yet it is good for other regions. They failed terribly in their mandate.
They are now using Ruto and Murkomen as an excuse for failure. They can go ahead but I don’t think it will shake the support the DP has in Nyeri or any other county in the region,” he said.
Nyoro also criticised the narrative that the DP was inciting his supporters in the Senate to oppose the formula where Mount Kenya region was benefiting, saying it will not succeed.