Deputy President William Ruto Sunday campaigned in Kitui County, telling the youth that he is the only presidential candidate who best understands their plight and the pain of joblessness.
Dr Ruto said the 2022 race to State House will pit those pushing for economic reforms to address the country’s unemployment crisis against those seeking constitutional reforms to create positions of power for a few individuals.
The DP urged the youth to seize the moment and determine their future by electing him as president because he is closer to them in terms of age than his political rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“The present and future of this country belongs to the youth. It is them who are bearing the heaviest burden of economic challenges and should therefore vote wisely in the next elections for a president whose agenda is economic reforms,” he told a rally at Kitui town bus park.
Speaking in Kyusyani market in Kitui Rural, the DP was keen to appeal to young Kenyans with the age question and a message that his competitors belong to the Kenya of the past.
No alternative agenda
He noted that his opponents had failed to offer an alternative agenda to his bottom-up economic development model that seeks to uplift those at the base of the wealth pyramid.
“I urge the youth to be ready to make their voices heard at the ballot in 2022 and to teach those who don’t care about your economic plight a lesson,” he said.
Dr Ruto urged Kenyans to carefully evaluate leaders' policies and rally behind those with solid economic plans to transform their lives.
"It is upon you to decide, as voters, if the next government will create jobs for the youth or change the Constitution to create positions for politicians,” he said.
The Deputy President was accompanied by Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai, former Kitui Rural MP Charles Nyamai and former Nairobi deputy governor Jonathan Mueke among other leaders.
BBI ulterior intentions
Dr Ruto said his competitors had ulterior intentions in their quest to amend the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“Their goal was to create an imperial President who would manipulate both Parliament and the Judiciary,” he said.
Dr Ruto said the promoters of the BBI were deceiving Kenyans that the proposals in the document were meant to benefit the country.
“It was the most dangerous assignment ever carried out in our country’s history. It was a fraud,” he said.
He insisted that he is committed to taking the country to the next level through the creation of a conducive environment for enterprise to thrive and jobs to be generated.
Since the 2017 General Elections, Mr Ruto’s political activity in Ukambani has been minimal, unlike in other regions like Mt Kenya, Kisii, Coast and western regions where he has been frequenting.
His visit to Kitui was seen as a belated entry to a region whose top leaders are vehemently opposed to his candidacy.
In 2019, Dr Ruto’s attempts to woo Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka through former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama failed after his political overtures were rejected.
Nevertheless, Mr Muthama parted ways with Mr Musyoka and joined Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) where he assumed the role of interim national party chairman.
On the other hand, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, who blames Dr Ruto for her sacking from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet in 2015, has been vocal in rallying the community against the presidential DP’s bid.
Governor Ngilu has been more categorical, keeping sustained political attacks against the DP and urging Mr Musyoka to join hands with ODM leader Raila Odinga to guarantee a sure victory against Dr Ruto in the 2022 elections.
The sustained attacks by the two leaders is perhaps the reason Dr Ruto’s campaigns in the region were low key, until last week when he hosted a caucus of Kamba leaders in Amboseli to discuss his campaign strategy.
A few weeks ago, Mr Ruto hosted at his Karen residence delegations of leaders from Kitui and Makueni counties, including religious leaders and some members of county assemblies.
However, with Mr Muthama on his side, the DP has recruited aspirants from each of the region’s 22 constituencies who are interested in running for elections on UDA party ticket, to help him get a share of Ukambani’s more than 1.5 million votes.
Muthama’s fishing expedition
Mr Muthama has avoided upsetting both Mr Musyoka and Governor Ngilu in his speeches, saying the community should not put all its eggs in one basket.
Quoting the Bible, the former senator describes his political sojourn in UDA as a fishing expedition on behalf of the Kamba community and not one meant to derail Mr Musyoka’s presidential bid.
“Where I am now, I’ll be your Joseph in Pharaoh’s government who saved his household in Egypt during Israel’s slavery, and your interests are well catered for,” he said last week in apparent reference to his role in DP Ruto’s presidential campaign.