Go out and talk to the people, Mr President

Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta condoles with mourners at the funeral service of the late Mama Hannah Atsianzale Mudavadi at Mululu Village in Vihiga County on January 9, 2020.

Photo credit: PSCU

It is time to call out some Mt Kenya leaders. And to tell them Uhuru Kenyatta is losing the script. I'm talking about a band of political nondescripts attacking Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata for his letter to Uhuru warning him the mood is bad in his ethnic backyard. That's the truth.

It is not unusual for a politician to write to the President. After all, Kang'ata is the Senate Majority Whip, which is an important office.

Moreover, he is the senator for Murang'a County, right in the heart of Uhuru's Mt Kenya powerbase.

What was unusual was the message the senator was relaying, and the fact that his letter went public. (Kang'ata denies he gave it out to the media).

The senator's message was explosive. He told the President that BBI was unpopular in the Mt Kenya region, based on an informal survey he had done in Murang'a. In fact, the senator could have been speaking of the situation in the entire Mt Kenya region.

For any hope of success, he urged the President to take personal charge of the BBI campaign in the home region, implying that local minions were finding it impossible to make headway.

He had more.

Labour of love

He spoke of the difficulty of selling the Jubilee gubernatorial candidate in Nairobi, and the shattering embarrassment to the government if that candidate lost. He just doesn't have the chops, he said.

I don't think Kang'ata was doing this as a prelude to ditching the Jubilee government, as some have insinuated. No. His was simply a cry for help.

Let's put some things in perspective. It's been a labour of love with Jubilee for politicos like Kang'ata.

The President is invisible, yet they have to sell his BBI project on the ground. It is frustrating. They have been struggling to sell this project while the person who stands to gain most from it in terms of legacy – the Head of State – remains mute.

Contrast that with Raila Odinga. He has been doing most of the BBI spadework, rallying the regions where ODM has influence while Uhuru has not done the same in his strongholds.

I am sure Raila's cohorts have noted this Jubilee nonchalance, and their only hope is that Uhuru will pull out a hidden card as yet unseen. Does he have one?

It's not impossible to sell BBI in the Mt Kenya region. Two things in the report stand out: The increase of constituencies as per population, and hence enhanced CDF allocations per county.

Even more dear for the densely populated region is the proposal to peg national revenue allocations to counties based on population. But who is charismatic enough to press this message to the region?

Heck, Uhuru! Go out there. Push. Let the villagers hear you. Explain to them. That's what Kang'ata is telling you to do. You've done great infrastructure work. Roads, dams, electricity connectivity et cetera. But the political mobilisation is poor. Just like with Mwai Kibaki. If this is not attended to, it will all end in shame.

And then there's William Ruto, hovering in the background with his wheelbarrows. He's idle with no State duties. He spends his time hosting delegations and roaming everywhere especially around Uhuru's backyard. His aim is to destroy Uhuru's work. I suspect he won't become President, but he's a danger. He doesn't like the region, and he's implied as much.

Let's go back to Daniel arap Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. Moi was all over. Even Jomo.

Despite his great age, Jomo travelled constantly to keep in touch with his "wananchi watukufu".

Moi was even more frenzied. His Presidency was an endless charade of harambee visits everywhere.

Mwai Kibaki put a stop to that. He concentrated his presidential work in State House. Uhuru seems to have taken a similar line, largely ignoring the grassroots. When did he last hold a mass rally, pre-Covid? That indifference cost Kibaki dearly in the 2007 election, which he lost but rigged.

Make no mistake: if Uhuru came and camped in Mt Kenya, the game would change. But he's nowhere to be seen.

Jomo’s style

The Oscar Sudis and Johanna Ngenos lambast him and his family daily. He doesn't respond. On social media his Tangatanga critics have swamped the space, ridiculing him and his projects every day. No wonder he shut down his Twitter accounts. Then he insults the DCI when he seeks to open PEV issues.

Wah! You give up. That was not Jomo's style. Surely the fruit rolled far away from the tree.

 Uhuru is a consequential President. He is. The stuff he has done is commendable. It's only the succession issues which he needs to sort out. That he must.

I would want to believe Uhuru has the raw NIS intelligence reports of what Kang'ata was warning about. I don't know what game he's playing. But it had better be damn good. Damn good. Because if it boomerangs, that will be the end of him and the Kenyatta name in Mt Kenya memory. Amen.



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