Uhuru and Ruto

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

| File | DPPS

Rift Valley leaders’ wish list ahead of Uhuru’s planned tour

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies Tuesday welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s planned tour of the Rift Valley.

The DP’s supporters however said they expect the President to unveil development projects on a grand scale, as he did during his tour of Nyanza region early this month.

These high expectations were likely sparked by the disclosure by the President’s allies that the planned tour aims at countering a political narrative pushed by Dr Ruto’s camp that the Jubilee administration had been unable to implement its Big Four agenda after the President's March 2018 'handshake' with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The Rift Valley leg of the tour, the President’s allies clarified, would see him visit Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Nakuru counties, which lie in Dr Ruto’s political powerbase.

Development goodies

And Tuesday, the DP’s lieutenants said even though the Head of State was welcome to visit Dr Ruto’s home turf, he should take to the region development goodies on the same scale as he recently did in Nyanza. The latter is the home turf of Mr Odinga, who is expected to be Dr Ruto’s main challenger in the general election scheduled for August next year.

According to Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was sacked from the position of Majority Leader in the Senate last year, the President’s tour should not exclude the Deputy President.

“The Rift Valley region, under the leadership of DP Ruto, has voted for Uhuru Kenyatta four times. For four years, he has been missing in action in the region. His visit is long overdue. We have many questions touching on projects and governance. We shall be there under the leadership of the Deputy President, who led us to him,” Mr Murkomen said.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany, who is considered to be the DP’s de facto spokesperson, said they expect the President to explain to the residents of the region why professionals from the Rift Valley were politically persecuted in the second term of the Jubilee administration and why development projects in the region had stalled.

“The President is most welcome in the region. We voted for him. One of the issues we want him to address is the persecution of people from the Rift Valley who held positions in government and have been hounded out of office in very suspicious circumstances. We also expect him to talk about the prices of maize and milk. We will not bring up personal issues but only what affects the people,” said Mr Kositany.

Insecurity in Turkana

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, a foe-turned-ally of Dr Ruto’s, said he would use the visit to apprise the President of development issues in the region as well as the matter of insecurity in Turkana East.

“Uhuru is the President of Kenya. He is, therefore, welcome to visit the region any time. I will receive him and apprise him of development and security issues, especially the insecurity occasioned by local militias in Turkana East,” said Mr Nanok, who is also the national coordinator of ‘Hustler Nation’ economic forums.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech and his Aldai counterpart Cornelius Serem said they had no problem with President Kenyatta as Head of State but only as the leader of the ruling Jubilee Party, which they accused him of mismanaging.

“We maintain that not just the President but every Kenyan is free to visit any part of the country, including Rift Valley. We would also be glad to host the President in Rift Valley so that he can explain to wananchi what happened to dam projects that have stalled since his handshake with Mr Odinga,” said Mr Koech.

Fears baseless

The Belgut MP dismissed fears that the Head of State’s tour might be disrupted.

“The impression being created that the President may face resistance in the Rift Valley due to the state of his relationship with the DP is baseless. As the DP himself has maintained, the President, as his boss, must be respected by all,” Mr Koech said.

Mr Serem said the region, just like others, deserves goodies from the government despite of the frosty political relationship between Mr Kenyatta and his deputy.

“Uhuru Kenyatta is the president for all of us. We only have a problem with him as party leader of Jubilee. We welcome him to Rift Valley, but let him bring us goodies such as those he took to Nyanza. His handlers must also know that we will not gate crash the tour if we are not going to be invited,” Mr Serem told the Nation.

Ruto’s State House bid

The political ties between Mr Kenyatta and his deputy have continued to deteriorate, with the DP’s Tangatanga camp claiming the President’s March 2018 handshake with Mr Odinga was meant to torpedo Dr Ruto’s State House bid. Dr Ruto has, however, resisted calls by the ‘Handshake’ supporters to resign.

Dr Ruto is on record saying he was elbowed out of the President’s inner circle, saying this forced him to take a back seat in government.

“The Deputy President has not violated any law or any section of the Constitution to warrant his resignation. Millions of us assembled this government through our own sweat and hands. I think it would be the biggest act of betrayal if I were to walk away from the eight million Kenyans who voted for us,” the DP said recently.

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono and his Emurua Dikirr counterpart Johanna Ngeno said they expect the President’s to address the issue of stalled multibillion-shilling dam projects in Itare, Arror and Kimwarer.

“We will not attend any functions unless we are invited. Let him complete the pending projects, particularly infrastructure projects, and stop demonising our region just because we are followers of the DP,” he said.

Stalled projects

Mr Ngeno said: “Like other areas he has been visiting and addressing issues of incomplete, stalled and proposed projects, we hope he will touch on stalled projects such as Itare, Arror and Kimwarer dams as well as incomplete roads.”

Cherang’any MP and Jubilee deputy secretary-general Joshua Kutuny said the President is keen to ensure his agenda is fully implemented.

Mr Kutuny further explained that the President is banking on his mega projects across the country to cement his political and economic legacy.

“Through these tours, people will get to know what the President has done. If people interpret these tours as trying to solidify his support base ahead of next year’s polls, that is a different story,” said Mr Kutuny.

He went ahead: “The President has emphasised that he needs to be given time to complete the projects he started. Remember also that the President was arm-twisted by his own team and he has confirmed that he did not do much in his first term because he relied on the wrong team and feels that in the second term he has done quite a lot.”

Early this month, during a meeting at Masai Lodge in Rongai, the DP’s allies led by Governor Nanok said it was necessary to establish more dams in the Rift Valley region, adding that Arror, Kimwarer and Itare projects must be given priority to help the farming and pastoral communities.