President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto consulting on January 26.
HEADS TOGETHER:President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto consulting on January 26.
Image: DPPS

By Reporter

Deputy President William Ruto’s BBI game plan is rattling allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga as the Ruto rebels’ Naivasha meeting threw a spanner in the works.

Forces allied to Uhuru and Raila have now warned the DP’s troops against attending the regional Building Bridges Initiative campaigns, a week after what appeared to be a you-all-are-welcome ceasefire in Mombasa.

It has emerged that populist proposals by the Ruto wing and their plan for parallel rallies are some of the issues that have triggered a fresh war in the fight for the control of the BBI narrative.

Some of the radical proposals are said to have caught Uhuru and Raila’s team flat-footed.

With the Ruto team driving pro-people issues in the BBI campaigns as a masterstroke to steal his rivals’ thunder, analysts say it’s back to the drawing board for allies of Uhuru and Raila.

Some 173 MPs allied to Ruto attended a two-day retreat in Naivasha and resolved to embark on parallel rallies even as they unveiled a raft of proposals they want to be incorporated in the BBI report.

The huge attendance at the meeting by the Tangatanga-allied MPs was seen as a deliberate political message to the DP’s political adversaries about their numerical might in the bicameral Parliament.

“The Naivasha meeting was underrated but it came out as one of the most efficient strategy meetings that may send President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga back to the drawing board over the BBI,” political analysts Felix Odhiambo reportedly told the Star.

Allies of the President and Raila are drumming support for the BBI crusade based on the expansion of the Executive and the introduction of regional governments — a move analysts claim would be unpopular as it represents another level of government and more costs.

Ruto’s camp has anchored its crusade in the social-economic empowerment of the common mwananchi and has proposed radical financial interventions for farmers, business people, the Judiciary and the unemployed millions of Kenyans.

The Ruto camp’s ideas, seen as populist, could easily fire up millions of Kenyans in their favour since they address matters that directly affect the common person.

Indicative of the simmering anxiety in the pro-BBI forces, allies of the President and Raila on Tuesday fired salvos at Ruto’s brigade.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, a key ally of the President, was the first one to make public statements that exposed the fears in the pro-BBI camp.

The Senator protested that the BBI rallies held so far were not addressing the critical issues touching on the things affecting the common mwananchi.

“The rallies should now focus on the common mwananchi by addressing the prices of tea, coffee, milk, rice — and not politics,” the Senate Deputy Majority Whip said during a press conference at Parliament Buildings.

This statement by Kang’ata who was accompanied by Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi exposed the internal conflict in the pro-BBI team.

The two complained that Central Kenya was not well represented in the planning of the BBI rallies, a situation they called humiliating.

“Representation when it comes to the meetings must be expanded so that we can have more say,” Kang’ata said.

With the Naivasha meeting having sparked political heat, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said Ruto’s allies were seeking sympathy from the Judiciary by proposing more funding to that arm of government.

“The only reason DP Ruto through his allies is pushing for increased allocation to the Judiciary is to win favour with the Judiciary, in hopes that judicial officers will go easy on his corruption cases and those of his allies that are pending before various judges and magistrates,” he said.

He led 31 MPs allied to the President and Raila who bashed the Naivasha team and sensationally linked the session to what they said is a plot to impeach Uhuru.

“One of the agenda items they discussed in Naivasha that we are aware of — other than the BBI — is the impeachment of the President. We are ready for them; let them bring it to Parliament,” Junet said.

They accused the DP of hiding behind the parallel meetings and creating a divisive political climate to propel him to the presidency in 2022.

The leaders rubbished the February 8 rally in Nakuru announced by Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen, saying official Nakuru BBI rally will be on February 22.

“If they will have a meeting on February 8, that would not be a BBI meeting but their own meeting and they should invite whoever they feel like inviting,” Kieni MP Kanini Kega added.

The lawmakers who spoke at Parliament Buildings claimed the plan to remove President Kenyatta was on the table in Naivasha and was robustly debated during the two-day meeting.

Borabu MP Ben Momanyi alleged that the Naivasha meeting was convened with the blessings of the DP to deliberate on a scheme to remove the President.

“They are trying to see how many people they have. We know they are building up issues so that they initiate impeachment of the President, we will deal with them at that time and we are ready,” he said.

Mbadi said that by appointing Murkomen to lead the BBI rallies, Ruto is guilty of directly challenging the authority of President Kenyatta who had earlier appointed BBI regional coordinators.

“BBI is a product of the handshake between the President and Raila Odinga and anything he [Ruto] does is undermining the approval of his boss. If they want to participate in the BBI, the President has appointed regional leaders and Rift Valley should be under Governor Tolgos,” Mbadi said.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said the DP’s allies are no longer welcome in their regional BBI rallies starting from Saturday’s rally in Kitui.

“I hear them saying they will continue coming to our meetings alongside theirs We shall not allow you to bring confusion. If you come to our meetings we will not allow you to address the crowd,” Malala said.

“There is no second BBI. If you want to do another BBI, go and do your own handshake with whomever you want and then come up with your own BBI and do parallel rallies,” Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga added

In what could be a major blow to Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai  on Tuesday met leaders from the county to plan for the BBI rally that will be held in Narok on February 17.

The Narok rally will bring together Kajiado and Samburu counties.

“The Narok county leadership shall commend President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for their leadership in this important national conversation and pledge their full support and participation,” Tunai said after the meeting.

But Speaking in Nakuru, the President reiterated his efforts in ensuring the country is united.

He said his efforts will end the chaos witnessed during almost every general election.

“Nchi ikiwa na amani na umoja mengi yanaweza kutendeka, sio kila saa ni siasa. Nawaomba wenzangu muambie wanasiasa wacheni tufanye kazi kwanza,” the head of state said.

He also said the country will be stable and move forward if everyone is united.

“Tusiogope tukiwa pamoja. It is what is necessary for stability and to move this country forward. Na mimi sitatingizika. Hapo ndipo mimi nipo na nitasonga mbele na hiyo line,” the President said.