My race for top seat is unstoppable: Ruto

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto joins traditional dancers at General Kago Stadium in Murang’a County yesterday. He attended fundraisers for boda boda and women groups.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In the Murang’a meetings, Dr Ruto asked leaders to leave independent institutions out of their debates.
  • Naivasha MP Jane Kihara reminded Mt Kenya voters that there is peace today in Rift Valley owing to Ruto’s input.

 Deputy President William Ruto yesterday began a weekend tour of central Kenya for a series of fundraisers in a political strategy that seeks to appeal to the support base of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dr Ruto is campaigning to politically inherit the region, but he is up against a wing of the Jubilee Party that is allied to the President, with whom he has fallen out.

Yesterday’s visit to Murang’a came three weeks after two people were killed in chaos that preceded a church fundraiser at Kenol Town. A week later, the DP’s visits were postponed following a Cabinet meeting at Manyani.

The Nyeri and Kirinyaga tours, which are happening today, come a week after President Kenyatta’s address to Tumutumu residents, where he hit out at his deputy for opposing the BBI report and the promises by Dr Ruto and his allies that they would make things better once they win in 2022.

President Kenyatta referred to Ruto and his allies as "Mbaari ya Ngeeka”, which in Gikuyu loosely translates to the “clan of promises”, saying much of the challenges faced by Kenyans politically and economically would be addressed if the proposals in the report are implemented.

In the Murang’a meetings, Dr Ruto asked leaders to leave independent institutions out of their debates.

He told off ODM leader Raila Odinga over claims that IEBC can conduct a Sh2 billion referendum. He disputed Mr Odinga’s budgetary estimates, saying “he is not a professional budget expert and in the 2010 referendum, he was the prime minister who did not help the country not spend the Sh10 billion that was the budget”.

Sh10 billion

“Leave the IEBC alone because even the previous referendum cost us about Sh10 billion with 12 million voters. How do you then expect to spend Sh2 billion on a referendum with 19 million voters?” he posed.

Mr Ruto announced he is not concerned about the composition of the electoral agency ahead of 2022 as long as no one will play monkey business with his votes.

 He said he is even ready to accept his perceived main competitor Raila Odinga to appoint any of his relatives to head IEBC, but be ready to commit himself to a transparent and coherent process.

Tomorrow, the DP will be in Tharaka-Nithi County where he will be accompanied by Senator Kithure Kindiki, his close confidant who was ousted as Senate deputy speaker.

The DP has the support of many MPs from the region who have defied pressure from the Kieleweke faction of the ruling party, which is opposed to his quest to succeed President Kenyatta.

In the past two months, Mr Ruto has turned his political guns on central Kenya with his strategists working to bring the close to 2.9 million central Kenya voters to his side.

Yesterday in Murang'a County, he led a Sh2.8 million fundraiser for boda boda operators in Kangema sub-county, adding he is ready for a national constitutional consensus that will tone down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rhetoric.

Presidential race

Accompanied by his Tangatanga brigade in Mt Kenya region led by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Kandara’s Alice Wahome, Mathira's Rigathi Gachagua, Kikuyu's Kimani Ichung'wa and Gatundu South's Moses Kuria, Dr Ruto said he is in the presidential race to stay until the 2022 polls.

Also in his entourage were Nyandarua Woman Rep Faith Gitau and her Kirinyaga counterpart Purity Ngirichi, South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro, Ndia's George Kariuku and Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who all promised a hustlers' euphoria in 2022.

Political debate

Dr Ruto said he has set about reforming the political debate from electoral to development-based.

He added he is not about to cease his political tours across the country, arguing that “I'm the deputy president mandated to keep in touch with my employers who are the people of Kenya”.

In multiple interviews, he has indicated that he is considering picking his running mate from Mt Kenya, signalling that the region's vote is crucial to his presidential bid in 2022.

According to the 2017 voter register, central region has more than 2.9 million voters and many more are expected to be registered by 2022. The region has Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Meru and Nyandarua counties.

Ms Wahome said the “hustler journey” will not bow to intimidation from local, national and international actors.

Naivasha MP Jane Kihara reminded Mt Kenya voters that there is peace today in Rift Valley owing to Ruto’s input.

 Mr Ruto said he is happy that wheelbarrows have become a big issue in the country's political debate, "but the problem with our competitors is that they are only content to dismiss us as archaic and stuck in 16th century technology but I’m disappointed they are not tabling 21st century technologies to empower our people."

At the same time, a planned visit by the Luo Council of Elders to Kabiruini grounds in Nyeri has been pushed to November 14. The event had earlier been slated for this weekend but it was postponed.

Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago told the Nation they were making final preparations to host elders and the political leadership of Luo Nyanza.

Two weeks ago, Kikuyu Elders trooped to Bondo, the rural home of Mr Odinga, in an event observers said will have political implications on the 2022 elections.

“We are planning a bigger event than the Bondo one. Politicians are also part of our communities and we have invited them for the event. The function is to cement our relationship with our Luo brothers. Cohesion is our main focus in this meeting,” Mr Kago said.

Meanwhile, there was a minor scuffle at Rurii Stadium in Mathioya, Murang’a, when a man tried to attack the DP, but quick action by his security detail blocked him.

Dr Ruto, who was heading for his vehicle after addressing a gathering, was not hurt. He then headed for Othaya in Nyeri County. Murang’a County Commissioner Mohammed Barre said he was yet to get a report on the “attack” ,adding the event was well-secured.

In Nyeri, Mr Ruto told off MP Ngunjiri Wambugu who had attended the meeting. He told the MP to respect his meetings and that he would not allow him to disrupt them.

“We should respect each other,” Dr Ruto said before inviting him to address the crowd.  But the crowd refused to allow the MP to speak.

mwangilink@gmail.com and kkimanthi@ke.nationmedia.com

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