Trust my deputy at own peril, Uhuru warns Mt Kenya region

Monday, February 1st, 2021 09:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his remarks during a meeting with over 600 youth leaders from across Central Kenya and neighbouring counties at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri county. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta has come out boldly to paint his deputy William Ruto as a dishonest person and an enemy of Mt Kenya region.

In various meetings with politicians and opinion leaders from the area, the Head of State portrayed Ruto as an impatient and conniving politician who cannot be trusted with the region’s future.

In a campaign to consolidate his political backyard and sell the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) project, the President accused his deputy of deceit.

From allegedly frustrating proposals to have Mt Kenya region benefit through equity in revenue sharing, misleading local leaders and voters through handouts to giving false promises in order to win the region’s support for his 2022 bid, Uhuru fell short of describing the Deputy President (DP) as a person who does not deserve the country’s top job.

Speaking in Chaka, Nyeri county, yesterday, Uhuru rubbished the narrative that BBI was meant to favour  ODM leader Raila Odinga.

He also wondered why Ruto donates wheelbarrows to young people instead of supporting policies which would give them a decent income.

“It has been claimed that BBI is meant to help Raila. What help does Raila want? Someone who is almost 76 years old.

You claim this document is for Raila, which ward does he represent in Ruiru? If more money is allocated to Ruiru, will it benefit Raila or the people of Ruiru? That is nonsense,” Uhuru said.

Political impact

 “You claim you are the solution to the young people, you are giving them wheelbarrows, who told you that they need wheelbarrows?

They need jobs, they want to be self-dependent,” the President added  in a direct attack on Ruto and his allies.

This was the second time Uhuru was taking his war with the DP in his backyard, having done so two weeks ago through Gikuyu radio stations, where he claimed stolen money was being used to fight BBI.

Pundits and leaders argue that the President’s move to reach out to his backyard, could wipe out the gains the DP has made through his visits to the region although Ruto’s allies, who were not invited to the Sagana meeting believe Uhuru’s tour will not affect their fortunes.

Political analyst Macharia Munene of the United States International University, said the President had boldly expressed his displeasure with the DP’s conduct, and being the region’s kingpin and also the Head of State, he would influence the masses as far as the BBI process is concerned.

“There will be political impact from what the President said. People will be influenced in one way or the other and if they are influenced, their behaviour will change.

Those who have already taken a position may not change but those who had not, are likely to be influenced by his words,” Munene told the People Daily.

During the Sagana meeting where the President said he owes the DP no political debt, Uhuru sought to sway the region away from Ruto who has been making regular visits to the area since 2015.

As far as the push to have Mt Kenya region gain from the BBI project, the Head of State equated Ruto to a suitor targeting a bride even after another man has already negotiated and paid bride price.

The bride, Uhuru said, were the gains in BBI which include more resources to counties and extra constituencies which would ensure more money to the regions. 

According to him, the DP who has been opposed to the cohesion project, and has warned Kenyans to be wary of it, was trying to mislead the people into voting against the BBI document.

“The promises being given to you today (by the DP and his allies) are akin to a young man going to pay dowry, together with his family... you first visit the lady’s home to inform the parents.

You mark the territory and you are given a day to pay dowry after successfully negotiating the price and plan how to settle it,” he said.

 “That is where we are (with BBI process). We are waiting for ngurario (traditional wedding) then someone comes and tells the family to ignore the young man.

That he will take care of the lady, and men in the homestead will each get a Probox and women should reject the gifts brought by the young man, because he is giving them chapati and rice.

But first, he says that he should be allowed to take the woman and the promises will be honoured later,” Uhuru added in reference to the DP campaigning and pledging to transform the region if elected.

Uhuru said refusal by the DP and his allies to support the passage of the third generation revenue sharing formula to ensure money is shared equitably by all counties, was a clear indication that they do not support the interests of the common man. 

“If they were indeed mindful of the hustler they keep talking about, why did they refuse to pass the formula?” Uhuru asked.

The President said the DP was a dishonest person who was trying to earn mileage using his (Uhuru’s) development work, saying he should wait for his turn, “which I doubt he would get, considering his current behaviour”.

“They think that work is done when one is standing on the sunroofs of cars. They should be told to stop taking credit for other people’s work.

Their time will come if people will agree and we do not know if they will accept considering how they are behaving. I don’t know,” he said.

Yesterday, while speaking in Trans-Mara, Narok county, during a prayer service, Ruto said no one owes him a political debt, saying the only debt he has, is to help the President unite and transform Kenya. 

“I supported President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017 without conditions. The Head of State should not be pushed to backing my 2022 candidature,” the DP said.

The DP asked leaders to stop being disturbed by the so-called politics of debt. He argued that he was engaging in politics not because of the alleged debts but because of his vision to empower ordinary Kenyans.

Yesterday, Uhuru maintained that the DP was being dishonest about BBI, saying he was part of the process and wondered why he had changed tune, adding that during the launch of the final report at Bomas last year: “I almost spilled the beans but Ruto rose from where he was and came to plead with me to stop”. 

Tanga Tanga wave

Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange said Uhuru had scored “big” by reaching out to the people who vote for leaders, who have been badmouthing BBI and used a better language and examples to convince them, that the document was good for them and also revealed to them when he and the DP started having political differences

“The President met and addressed the people who matter, those who vote for the leaders who have been making noise against BBI.

He met church leaders, MCAs, women, youth and grassroots leaders who shape opinions.

They now know that they were being fooled. People wanted to know what went wrong between him and the DP and he opened up, that it was about trust and graft in government,” Koinange said.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega said the President had managed to demystify the narrative that has been peddled about BBI by DP and his allies; that the process was initiated to serve 2022 politics, adding that Uhuru also articulated to the masses the gains they will get should the referendum pass.

“He has deconstructed the lies that have been told about BBI after he took the people through the benefits they stand to gain through the BBI. 

He has debunked the narrative that BBI is about succession politics. Whether he has taken charge of his backyard, it can be measured with the large crowd he attracted yesterday in Chaka,” Kega said.

Limuru MP Peter Mwathi, a proponent of BBI, said the impact of Uhuru’s action was already being felt, saying the people are excited to know that the things they have been told about BBI were not true.

“People now know that Uhuru wants to improve their lives through additional resources, anybody who asks them to reject the project and instead wants to give them tokens is the one fuelling poverty.

Ruto wants the hustlers to remain poor so that he can be coming with tokens so that he can endear himself to them,” Mwathi said.

Former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri criticised the Sagana meeting, saying such forums were out to divide the region.

“When there is a problem, you call everyone to settle the issue. If there is a problem in Mt Kenya, the first group to be invited should have been those in the opposing camp.

Why should you be in Sagana while other leaders are out there? We never got an invitation and turned it down.”

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah and his Mathira counterpart Rigathi Gachagua said the President’s actions would yield nothing because BBI was still unpopular in the region.

“The hustler nation remains strong and focused on the bottoms-up approach that will empower the masses, grow entrepreneurship with respect and dignity for work as opposed to the ethnic mobilisation and balkanisation that enslaves the masses while benefiting a privileged few,” Ichung’wa said.

Political analyst Ndegwa Njiru says the President, using substantive questions regarding the DP’s refusal to support revenue sharing formula and BBI, both of which the region stands to benefit, he may have convinced the electorate that he (Ruto) is a dishonest person, who does not have the interest of the people at heart, adding that Uhuru’s visit will deflate the Tanga Tanga wave.

“Out of the meeting, the letter by the 41 MPs is inconsequential and Tanga Tanga will no longer pitch their tents on the mountain.

He projected the DP as a dishonest person. The DP will have to do a lot of work to redeem his image in the region because the people were able to identify with the BBI,” Njiru said.

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