What you need to know:
- A spot check by the Sunday Nation yesterday established that the Jubilee Asili Centre was desolate with no activity at in the recent past.
- At the gate, there was not security guard and even the Jubilee Asili banner had been removed. The guard’s room was full of dust.
Deputy President William Ruto’s camp was forced to shelve its plan to operationalise his command centre — Jubilee Asili — after the owner of the building reportedly asked them to leave.
Allies of the DP wanted Jubilee Asili Centre in Kilimani, Nairobi, to act as the DP’s 2022 presidential campaigns nerve centre.
Isolated in government and the ruling Jubilee Party, Dr Ruto is now trying to retreat to what his strategists call ‘safe zones.’
The Sunday Nation established that the DP’s team wanted the office on Makindi Road to fill the gap created by their lack of access to the Jubilee headquarters in Pangani.
A spot check by the Sunday Nation yesterday established that the Jubilee Asili Centre was desolate with no activity at in the recent past.
At the gate, there was not security guard and even the Jubilee Asili banner had been removed. The guard’s room was full of dust.
Inside the compound, there was a Hyundai car packed, some tiles lying on the left side of the compound and chairs left unattended.
Dr Ruto's attempt recently to use Jubilee Party headquarters, where he looked forward to meeting top party officials, flopped after he failed to meet the party’s secretary general Raphael Tuju and top other officials in the office.
The party's National Management Committee (NMC), following a consultative meeting, according to party secretary-general Mr Tuju, had banned Dr Ruto from using Jubilee Party headquarters for his 2022 campaign meetings.
The party organ also barred Ruto from holding any political meetings at the party offices.
“The NMC has recommended to NEC that the DP ceases to be deputy party leader after he opened the so-called Jubilee Asili offices that are reserved for him and his allies until such a time this development of the Jubilee Asili is discussed at the NEC,” Mr Tuju.
The plan to make Jubilee Asili Centre fully functional by the end of last August was set aside after some of those roped in to spearhead its visibility and use were hospitalised as a result of Covid-19.
Sources within DP’s circles told the Sunday Nation that there had been a protracted push and pull between the landlord and the Tangatanga brigade. The landlord has reportedly informed Ruto’s people that the house cannot be used for political activities.
The landlord has been piling pressure on them for the last two months to vacate.
The tangatanga politicians have accused some state operatives of intimidating the building’s owner to terminate the lease agreement with the DP’s faction.
“We are tussling with the owner, the government has told the owner to throw us out and he has requested us to leave, but we are still negotiating. This drama started approximately two months ago and that is why we decided to lie low as we try to reach some agreement,” said an MP who sought anonymity.
“The landlord is in an embarrassing situation because he is being bullied by being told that a number of his things will go wrong and he has not processed the change of user. The government is using all means to frustrate our landlord and scuttle our plans for 2022. We were ready to buy the building but he has been reluctant to sell it to us…. we do not wish to reveal him,” he added.
Individuals who had been identified to ensure that the Jubilee Asili meets its objective include former senators Johnston Muthama (Machakos), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and MPs Nixon Korir (Lang’ata) and Moses Kuria (Gatundu South). They will, together with the established Tangatanga crew led by Caleb Kositany in the National Assembly and Mr Kipchumba Murkomen in the Senate, coordinate grassroots mobilisation campaigns.
However, Mr Muthama denied that Jubilee Asili exists arguing that it is a ‘creation of the media’ even though he disclosed there is a building they rented recently to as a nerve centre for the DP's presidential quest.
“Yes we rented a building for operations after we felt that those allied to DP are not wanted at Jubilee headquarters, but it is not Jubilee Asili. This is a creation of the media,” he elucidated.
Plum party positions
In June, the DP hosted Tangatanga lawmakers at the centre, just after the leaders had been de-whipped from plum party positions in both the Senate and the National Assembly. Leaders allied to the DP yesterday confirmed that the centre will be closed until the push and pull between them and the landlord is sorted out.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, an ally of Dr Ruto, told the Sunday Nation that they were forced to shut down operations at the centre due to incessant intimidation from the government.
“We closed down Jubilee Asili Centre. We had rented that property but the person who we had rented it from was intimidated by the government to terminate that contract and not to allow us to meet,” said Mr Barasa.
“I cannot disclose the details of the landlord but we rented the building through an agent,” he added.
Speaking for the first time since he unveiled the centre in June, the DP recently said the centre will provide those locked out of Jubilee Party’s headquarters at Pangani a place to brainstorm.
The Jubilee Asili Centre, Belgut MP Nelson Koech had said, will also be used to hold press briefings as well as receive defectors from other parties.
According to Mr Koech, the centre was about providing an alternative voice within the Jubilee Party.