Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua was yesterday named as Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate in the August 9 polls, promising to deliver Kenyans from economic oppression.
In an exercise that the deputy president said took them 17 hours, the 57-year-old led in a shortlist of six candidates to be a step away from succeeding Dr Ruto as the next deputy president.
Dr Ruto admitted that it was not a straightforward exercise to settle on Mr Gachagua but in the end, the former provincial administrator edged out Senator Kindiki after outscoring him in every evaluative parameter.
After accepting his nomination to the position, with his wife – Pastor Dorcas Rigathi watching on – the first-term MP pledged to help his boss deliver a government that works for every citizen to overcome all the obstacles that pull Kenya back.
He said that ambitions of many Kenyans are frustrated and cut short owing to the criminalisation of enterprises, adding their government will free the work environment and enterprises, whether big or small, from harassment, seizure of goods and prohibitive fees.
“From a grass thatched house, I stand here today with more than 30 years of public experience. I have been to and worked in every part of Kenya and understand the challenges that face our people,” he said.
Also Read: I will protect you, Gachagua tells Uhuru
As district officer, Mr Gachagua worked in Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Laikipia, Turkana, Wajir, Kakamega and served at Harambee House.
Further, the father of two said Dr Ruto’s administration will work on guaranteed minimum returns for farmers through legislative and administrative frameworks.
Inspiration to ‘hustlers’
“I believe that under your leadership, we can take this country to the next level. Your story has been an inspiration to ‘hustlers’ and all of us inside Kenya. With the team you have assembled, we have what it takes to realise the dreams of the hustler nation and it will be a great honour for me to play my part. And that I will,” he said.
He lamented that many Kenyans wake up early and sleep late but they rarely benefit their sweat.
The former personal assistant to President Uhuru Kenyatta promised not to disappoint Kenya Kwanza Alliance on the responsibility bestowed on him to be Dr Ruto’s running mate in the most defining election in Kenya’s history.
“This is one of the greatest days of my life. There are many in our alliance who are qualified for this position and any one of them would have been up to the task, but the trust and confidence you have shown in me is a privilege and I will do my very best to live up to those expectations,” said the lawmaker.
“I will not let you down. I will not let the hustler nation down. I will not let the people of Kenya down,” he added.
DP Ruto, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate, said his deputy’s functions will be chairing Cabinet committees, overseeing the implementation of Cabinet decisions, coordinating intergovernmental relations between the National government and the county governments as well as planning and supervising the implementation of development partners-funded programs and projects.
This would be in addition to coordinating constitutional commissions and independent offices in matters that require the intervention of national government including but not limited to budgets and policy frameworks.
Dr Ruto described his running mate pick as a fearless fighter for the right causes, and an indefatigable champion of the betrayed, persecuted, downtrodden, the despised, the ignored and the marginalised.
“You are a living example of a true hustler who rose from the hardship of the aftermath of our freedom struggle to the pinnacle of professional, business and political success,” he said.
Giving his pick his first assignment, Dr Ruto tasked Mr Rigathi, together with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, to offer political leadership to an economic team set up by Kenya Kwanza to deliver its economic blueprint.
“I am looking forward to you and the economic team delivering on the robust agenda we have assigned to the team. We expect you to hit the ground running so that Kenya Kwanza can be ready to govern from day one,” said the DP.
However, the Karen event also made headlines with the conspicuous absence of Senator Kindiki, the runners up in the search for a running mate, which Dr Ruto downplayed, saying he was absent with his permission.
“Mr Kindiki is not here with my permission and he will be making a statement on that,” said the DP.
Although, he described Prof Kindiki as his lawyer, his friend and the slayer of Moreno Ocampo, consensus pointed to Mr Gachagua.
“This is not Dr Ruto’s choice but it is the collective choice of the leadership and the population of the people of Mt Kenya region,” MP Nyoro said.
Born in 1965 in Ruguru Village in Nyeri County, Mr Gachagua associates himself with the Mau Mau struggle for independence.
The eighth born out of nine children went to Kenyatta High School in Kirinyaga between 1978 and 1981. He went back to the same school for his A-levels which he cleared in 1983 and was admitted to the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration and Literature in 1987.
He then joined the civil service in the same year he graduated, starting off as an assistant secretary and personal assistant to then Minister of Home Affairs and National Heritage Davidson Ngibuini, who was at the time Mathira MP.