What you need to know:
- Nyoro’s camp now says it is not possible to continue publicly defying the DP when the President has called for ceasefire.
- It remains unclear if the drama had served its purpose as a warning shot by powerful forces to the Deputy President.
What was shaping up to be a David versus Goliath moment in Kiharu Member of Parliament (MP) Ndindi Nyoro’s onslaught against Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for the political soul of Mt Kenya appears to have ended up as a brief political circus that has only served to fuel speculation.
After Mr Nyoro’s unequivocal loyalty pledge to President William Ruto and Mr Gachagua, it remains unclear if the drama had served its purpose as a warning shot by powerful forces to the DP, or was an ill-fated an ill-timed coup attempt whose plotters realised they did not have enough political fire power.
The two shadowboxed each other for only two weeks with Nyoro’s allies — led by Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu and Gatanga MP Edward Muriu — sensationally demanding that President Ruto drops DP Gachagua in 2027 and replace him with the Kiharu MP in readiness for a 2032 takeover of the presidency.
The Sunday Nation gathers that the schemers of the Nyoro agenda underrated the fighting acumen of Mr Gachagua who countered the onslaught by deftly veering it directly into State House after publicly declining the invitation to engage in a public spat with his opponents. His allies had always claimed there was a powerful hidden hand in the surprise push by the Nyoro camp, one-and-a-half-years after the last election.
For the President, a possible falling-out in a region that solidly backed him in 2022 would have been a big risk that threatened years of instability more than three years to the next elections.
But it appears Mr Nyoro’s about-turn will only allow for an uneasy calm with the supremacy battles continuing in various forms.
Former Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi, who was defeated by Mr Muriu, admits that he was approached by some people who promised unlimited support to launch campaigns against the current MP for his stand against the DP.
“I declined since I respect Gatanga people and I will only seek their mandate only when elections come calling,” he said.
Mr Ngugi added that former President Uhuru Kenyatta tenure made him aware that “wealth and power are two dangerous opponents to attempt taking head on” , adding that “that is what Gachagua has unleashed to shake off the Nyoro challenge.”
Mr Nyoro’s allies agree that the kitchen became too hot and they could not cope with the heat.
“It was not our liking to back down…Powerful forces descended on us and urged us to call off the attack. Nothing has changed in our demands, but it is no longer tenable to say it openly,” said Mr Nyutu.
He added: “It is not possible to continue publicly defying Gachagua when the Head of State has personally come out to demand cessation of hostilities, but nevertheless, we have made our point and the demands we were making remain very much alive.”
Mr Nyutu said that the two camps are united under President Ruto.“We all agree President Ruto should serve us till 2032 (for two terms). We only differ on who should deputise him in seeking a second term in 2027, and who will inherit the seat in 2032.”
After Mr Nyoro kept a stoic silence as his political mercenaries circled Gachagua for the kill, he abruptly came out on Friday while in Tana River looking subdued and somehow rattled.
“We all in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance give our President and his deputy full, total and unconditional support as they lead our nation. The rest of us all behind them are their workers, including myself, ours is to support them as they steer this nation forward,” Nyoro mellowed.
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This followed strong statements in recent days by President Ruto and Mr Gachagua while in Rift Valley and Mt Kenya regions where they called for an end to the early campaigns. .
“A seasoned eye in how government fights internally knew it was a matter of time before Nyoro backed down. I can detect an underground tact credited to Gachagua that has resulted in the truce. How Gachagua allies came out well coordinated and throwing lethal jabs must have sent very strong signals to the President,” said career administrator Joseph Kaguthi.
Kaguthi, who is also from the Mt Kenya region, added that “having witnessed similar sibling rivalry in Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta’s regimes as an insider, I had given Nyoro only three weeks at maximum to back down. It took him only two weeks”.
The Gachagua scheme in public was fronted mostly by Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga, East African Legislative Assembly MP Kanini Kega and Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi. In unison, they alleged that the war facing Gachagua could not be founded single-handedly by Nyoro, as it was broader than expected, and had started advancing demands that ranged from decamping from the ruling UDA and forming their own party, seeking a meeting with the Head of State to renegotiate Mt Kenya stake in his government, and demanding acceleration of development projects.
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“It was not the case (that there were powerful forces behind the push). Our agenda was not in any way sanctioned from State House but it was a reaction to how Gachagua has been treating us and lording over us as if we were children. But how he misrepresented facts and made us appear as if we were quarreling the President is strange,” Mr Nyutu said.
Mr Wamatinga is said to have grown overexcited in the task allocated him and on Thursday showed up on Inooro TV and declared: “Led by (Governor) Kahiga we are going to meet the President on Saturday to demand that he writes off Mt Kenya coffee debts worth Sh6 billion, release compensations for area residents whose lands had been taken over to host government projects as well as have all dams earmarked since independence done.”
He said discussions on how to explore formation of an own political party was also an agenda, adding that “we are wary of how in 1989, as is happening now, small time politicians were used to bring down the then Vice President Josephat Karanja at behest of State House powers”.
The senator also revealed that they wanted a cancer centre built in Nyeri as well as modification and enhancement of infrastructure at Othaya Level Six Hospital, not forgetting the establishment of a fund to lend at zero interest to area small and medium enterprises to strengthen business startups as was captured in pre-election economic charters in the region.
The demands appeared to have angered Mr Gachagua who, while in Meru on Thursday, hit out at Mr Wamatinga and Mr Nyutu.
“The two are speaking garbage and I direct Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi to sit them down and caution them on basic political discipline that projects itself in unity of purpose,” he said.
Mr Kahiga said: “With the hostilities now behind us, I hope we are now going to sit down as Mt Kenya leaders and agree that our unity is paramount and is the only defence we have in lobbying for benefits commensurate to our contribution in both resources and establishment of this government”.