Ruto extends olive branch to Uhuru, Raila at prayers
Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai
Deputy President William Ruto used yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast to reach out to President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, saying it was time to “reason together”.
Ruto, who has been accused of working at cross purposes with his boss and has been critical of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns, said it was high time the country’s leadership buried the hatchet and started speaking with one voice to address challenges facing Kenyans.
It was the first time the DP was appearing in public together with the President since February 15 when they both attended the funeral of former Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae and a Cabinet meeting 10 days later.
“So much has happened but as things stand today, the Tanga Tanga tours are not there and the BBI reggae has stopped.
I think we need to listen to our religious leaders. Maybe God is telling us to come, let us reason together,” Ruto said before inviting the President to address the gathering.
In his brief remarks, Uhuru dwelt mainly on the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and how Parliament can play a role in ensuring Kenyans access healthcare when they fall sick.
However, in apparent response to Ruto’s olive branch, the President told leaders present to live by their actions and not empty words.
“Mine is only to say let it not be that we have heard today and tomorrow we have forgotten, hope is a continuous process, hope is something we have got to hear and put in our daily lives.
The things that he (guest speaker) has told us is how we live everyday... all that matters is not to only be seen to listen today and by tomorrow we go back to our normal lives,” said Uhuru.
Calling on leaders to engage in a national conversation to end the current problems bedeviling the country, Ruto recalled a previous prayer meeting which he shared with Raila and a bishop he did not name.
During the meeting, Raila and the bishop asked leaders to reason together, he said.
“I was in a meeting where there were some two gentlemen, who said some fundamental issues, one was a bishop who asked us to try the Jerusalema dance, I think we need to listen to what that bishop was telling us and we need to do things together,” he said.
He continued: “In that same meeting the former Prime Minister also said something that was profound, in fact in a very uncharacteristic manner, he gave us a verse and he told us about Isaiah 1 verse 18 that says, ‘Come let us reason together’. Maybe God is speaking to us and saying, come let us reason together.”
Ruto also narrated how on Wednesday evening while hosting a delegation from his Sugoi village that had camped in his home ahead of his daughter’s wedding yesterday, he learned valuable lessons on how people can solve their problems if they come together and believe in God.
“Finally, last night some of my relatives from the village came to my home because my daughter got a spouse, she works in the Foreign Affairs and so she got a foreigner to be her spouse and so one of the gentlemen from the village was speaking to us, he was telling us about this wedding in the Bible that was in Canaan.
Among the people invited was Mary, the mother of Jesus and Jesus himself and others, and of course in that whole thing there was trouble and there was shortage and things went wrong but because Jesus was there, this was sorted… he was telling us that in whatever plan, agenda, mission we have, we must have God in the equation and I think that is profoundly what we are reminding ourselves this morning,” he added.
Ruto praised Kenyans for their resilience in the face of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged the country since March last year.
“We have had the world thrown into a spin because of the coronavirus pandemic. Livelihoods, businesses and people have suffered immensely,” Ruto told the gathering.
He said it was only through President Kenyatta’s leadership that some of the challenges are being addressed.
“Because of your leadership, you stepped in and managed to address some of the challenges we had and today we are discussing how we are going to vaccinate our citizens during the pandemic,” said the DP, addressing the President.
The co-chair of the event’s organising committee, Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo, set the tone for the meeting by stating that it provided an opportunity for leaders to reconcile.
Ruto’s calls for reconciliation come in the wake of recent by-elections in Juja and Bonchari constituencies as well as in Rurii ward in Nyandarua county, where the President and his Deputy supported different candidates.
Ruto and his allies have also come out in support of the High Court ruling that halted the BBI process to the disappointment of Uhuru and Raila.
Yesterday’s event at Parliament buildings was attended by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, Chief Justice Martha Koome, One Kenya Alliance leaders Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, Busia Senator Amos Wako, Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi, former Auditor General Edward Ouko and Judiciary Registrar Ann Amadi, among others.