Ruto conspicuously missing at the launch as Raila digs in
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Deputy President William Ruto yesterday skipped a key State function where his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga received the much-anticipated Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce report.
Ruto, who has previously criticised the report as a “vehicle for the political elite to award themselves leadership positions”, instead attended the funeral service of Huruma Ward (Eldoret) MCA Peter Chomba, who succumbed to Covid-19.
His allies from the region, led by Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, also gave the event a wide berth.
However, Kisii Governor James Ongwae and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyangarama attended with a host of MPs.
They were Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache North), Janet Ongera (Kisii Woman Rep) and Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West).
Speaking at the late MCA’s burial at Huruma Grounds in Eldoret, Ruto asked leaders to engage in decent conversation devoid of blackmail on the BBI report.
He said leaders should also respect and accommodate divergent views and unite Kenyans in the BBI process that has just been unveiled, for it to be a success.
Ruto called for a debate that won’t divide the nation. With him were governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet). Other leaders present were MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapsaret), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Janet Sitienei (Turbo), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Daniel Rono (Keiyo South) and Caleb Kositany (Soy).
He said open and honest discussions would enable Kenyans to make informed decision.
“We must have a constitutional conversation that must be devoid of reggae bravado, that is not divisive, that cannot create winners and losers and ‘us verses them’ scenarios,” said Ruto.
“The inclusivity on matters of BBI should not only be among leaders but Kenyans who are jobless, boda boda people, among others who hustle every day to put food on the table,” he added.
The DP said he will continue with the youth and women empowerment programme as part of the efforts to uplift the lives of such people.
“When some people talk about the Prime Minister position, we will also talk about the boda boda and wheelbarrows among other issues affecting majority of Kenyans,” said Ruto.
Speaking in Kisii, Raila intensified his attacks on the DP’s hustler drive to empower the common man, by issuing them wheelbarrows and handcarts, claiming he was insincere on his push.
“Someone would come and start saying we need to talk about the common man, poor man, mkokoteni, driver and so on… but you’ve been there all this time.
You didn’t drop from heaven like an angel. You’ve been around,” Raila said in a thinly veiled attack on the DP.
“Is it the first time that you’ve discovered about mkokoteni people? The haves and have nots? If you’re really concerned, why do you give them wheelbarrows and not your helicopter?” he asked.
Uhuru on his part praised the document as a key unifying element for Kenya’s future for posterity. He said what the BBI report seeks to do is to unite Kenyans and protect the country.
“Not for an individual, not for a community, not for the rich against the poor, and not for the poor against the rich but how can we as a society called Kenya build a society that is inclusive, equitable, creates opportunities for all,” Uhuru said.