Ruto: Why I sprinted to a chopper to go pray in Kiambu on last day of campaigns

William Ruto

President William Ruto.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has opened up on why he decided to close his election campaigns with a word of prayer at the Kirigiti stadium in Kiambu County, having been seen sprinting to board a chopper after a rally in Nairobi.

Speaking during a church service in Nairobi's Lang'ata constituency on Sunday, Dr Ruto admitted that he was not sure he would win the presidency in the August 9 polls, where his major competitor was Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party.

On August 6, the final date of the campaigns, he had scheduled to address rallies in Narok, Nakuru and Nairobi counties. 

"We addressed all those rallies and we still had one problem that was bedevilling us in Kiambu County ... Time was running out and we were split between attending the closing rally at Kirigiti stadium ... We had less than 30 minutes to do so," he said.

Kiambu County, the home county of Uhuru Kenyatta, who had openly supported Mr Odinga, was a political problem for Dr Ruto and his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) brigade.

"All indications based on opinion polls, ground activities and the media gave the perception that we were not to win Kiambu ... It was urgent that we did something and the rally appeared as a must-not-miss," he said.

He said he and his entourage decided to attend the rally "and we arrived there 18 minutes to 6pm, which was the official time set for all formations to close public campaigns".

He recalled that he ran to his plane in a last-ditch effort to beat time and gain an edge that appeared impossible over his competitors.

"We arrived at Kirigiti stadium and after short speeches, with time running out on us, I knew that the circumstances demanded an extraordinary feat ... and I asked the audience to remove their caps for a word of prayer," he said.

Dr Ruto beseeched God to bless his campaigns and give him a win.

"Thanks for this far you have brought us and bless the journey ahead. Ahead is tough and it is only you who can help us decide. Give us a peaceful election and a win. We also pray for the outgoing President ... bless him," Ruto prayed in slightly over 2:30 minutes.

President Ruto now says "prayer works, for we did not only win the national vote but also conquered Kiambu".

Candidates in Dr Ruto's UDA won in all major seats in the county, except Mr Kigo Njenga, who lost in Gatundu North to Elijah Njoroge (independent).

He said the same prayers helped Kenya enjoy post-election peace "even when the vote was a close call similar to the 2007 one that bred violence".

Dr Ruto added that prayers will see the country through its trying moments.