Uhuru meets Mt Kenya county chiefs to firm his grip on region

Friday, January 17th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta when he announced a Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday. He also outlined a raft of measures that seek to revive the agriculture sector. Photo/PD/FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday met governors from Mt Kenya region in what appears to be an escalation of his efforts to regain his grip of his political backyard.

Uhuru spent the better part of yesterday in a closed-door meeting with at least nine governors from the region at State House, Mombasa. Also in attendance were Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi.

Details of the meeting remained a closely guarded secret with sources saying support for Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), implementation of his recent outlines on the revival of agriculture in the region and unity dominated the talks. 

State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to divulge its details.

“As usual the President has had several meetings with various people today, and the governors from the region was just one of them,” she said.

However, reliable sources said the President pleaded with the governors to support BBI and to rally their supporters at the county level behind the reform agenda.

He asked the governors to form a special committee to spearhead campaigns for the implementation of recommendations. 

Early campaign

A governor, who attended the meeting, but cannot be quoted due to the sensitivity of the issue, told the People Daily that the President took ample time to take them through his vision on the BBI and what he expects out of it.

“He was very categorical that BBI is good for the country, and in particular, the people from the Mt Kenya region and strongly advised us against being poisoned by some people to engage in 2022 presidential campaigns,” said the governor.

Uhuru is said to have told the governors that contrary to what has been reported in the media on claims by some politicians, he is not against any person but stands for the 47 million Kenyans to move to the next step.

“I have reasons why I am vouching for this BBI, and I cannot be that foolish to be telling you to support something that will not benefit you.

I see far, and know what I am doing. If you people are for the good future for this country, join me to ensure the success of BBI,” Uhuru is quoted telling the governors.

And in what appeared to be directly taking charge of the Mt Kenya region that appeared to be oscillating towards his Deputy William Ruto, Uhuru told the governor to shun the 2022 politics and instead concentrate on implementing the policies that he had outlined on Tuesday during his address to the nation.

“He was very serious on this as he told us to ensure that we implement the policies he outlined to revive the collapsing agriculture in the region.

Those of us who attended the meeting left fully satisfied that he really wants the common man to benefit,” said another governor.

About 57 legislators from the region who held a two-day retreat in Embu in November to discuss the way forward on the BBI report had resolved to support the report with conditions that Parliament is the way to implement the recommendations as opposed to a referendum.

They had also argued that issues affecting tea, coffee, milk and rice in the region be addressed first.

“Parliament is the sole body constitutionally mandated to pass laws. We commit ourselves to drive legal work in Parliament moving forward,” said part of the statement read by Embu senator Njeru Ndwiga. 

However, this meeting appeared to have angered the President who a few days later responded by telling them off. The Embu meeting was also attended by sacked Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.

Yesterday, Uhuru is reported to have asked the governors to steer clear of early 2022 election campaigns.

He told the county bosses to refuse to be used by those who are campaigning to win seats in the 2022 poll to advance their course.

The statement appeared to target Ruto who has been accused of criss-crossing the country campaigning for his presidential bid.

Uhuru reiterated his earlier promise to tour all the Mt Kenya region counties to launch projects and convince residents to support the BBI report. He said a tentative programme for the visit will be released to the governors.

Among governors present at the meeting were Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Martin Wambora (Embu), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Nderitu Muriithi (Laikipia), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua).

Both Nairobi and Kiambu counties, whose governors Mike Sonko and Ferdinand Waititu are facing abuse of office charges were not represented. 

The meeting comes just a day after Uhuru met some prominent businessmen from the same region. However, details of the meeting remain scanty.

The two meetings come in the wake of rising political anxiety and divisions in the region caused by the seeming fallout between the President and his deputy.

The division has given birth to two political factions — Kieleweke which is supporting Uhuru and the Ruto-allied Tanga  Tanga.

The meeting comes just days after the President announced a raft of measures to revitalise Agriculture sector in the wake of growing outcry over diminished earnings for farmers in the tea, coffee and milk sectors.

The choice of tea, coffee and milk appeared to target the Mt Kenya region where the crops are mainly grown.

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