Deputy President William Ruto at House of Hope Church, Kayole, Embakasi Central constituency, Nairobi county, on January 9, 2021
Deputy President William Ruto at House of Hope Church, Kayole, Embakasi Central constituency, Nairobi county, on January 9, 2021
Image: DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto is increasingly walking a political tightrope with his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, clearly laying a grand scheme to vanquish his State House run.

The President, who has at most 18 months left in his final term, has launched an aggressive campaign to block his deputy’s bid, leaving him with limited options.

Just last week, Uhuru in no holds barred remarks threw his deputy under the bus, suggesting an end to the Kikuyu-Kalenjin dominion of the presidency.

Uhuru’s shocking and dramatic pronouncements jolted the DP’s succession game plan and at the same time handled key opposition figures a political lifeline ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Ruto, a Kalenjin, has declared his interest in succeeding President Kenyatta in 2022. He, however, faces major hurdles in his quest, with political bigwigs uniting against his ambitions.

The Nasa trio of ODM leader Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka are backing the political manoeuvres to stop Ruto’s State House march.

For instance, the three leaders have forged rare political horse trading that would see their parties close ranks with Jubilee to take on the DP in upcoming by-elections in various parts of the country.

Nasa co-principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Isaac Rutto, Moses Wetang'ula and Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on April 27, 2017.
TUKO PAMOJA? Nasa co-principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Isaac Rutto, Moses Wetang’ula and Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on April 27, 2017/Courtesy

The ruling Jubilee Party — in which Ruto lost grip after Uhuru launched a vicious purge on his allies — has pulled out of the Machakos, Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections.

This is meant to boost chances of Wiper to capture Machakos and Ford Kenya to retain the Kabuchai parliamentary seat as well as ANC to recapture the Matungu slot.

The plan is to deflate Ruto’s hustler nation movement that is basking in full glory of the decisive victory in Msambweni parliamentary race in which Faisar Bader, the DP’s choice, trounced ODM’s Omar Boga.

The elaborate schemes have pushed the DP into a tight corner with his presidential ambitions facing a major threat from the united front of the Nasa trio.

On Thursday, ex-South Mugirango MP and Kenya National Congress Party leader Manson Nyamweya told the Star that Ruto’s bravado has boomeranged as his ambitions “go up in smoke.’

“It is no secret that the President is keen on pursuing a different succession plan that obviously excludes the Deputy President from the matrix,” Nyamwenya said.

He asked the DP to come to terms with “the fact that he is a lone ranger” in his battle to succeed Uhuru because of his antagonistic nature of politics.

The DP’s presidential prospects have gone up in smoke because he has created a lot of political enemies
KNC boss Manson Nyamweya

“The DP’s presidential prospects have gone up in smoke because he has created a lot of political enemies and continues to undermine the President’s agenda,” he said.

Uhuru’s last week’s declaration that Kenya has had enough of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin presidency is seen as part of the political scheme aimed at frustrating Ruto’s bid.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, an ally of the DP, said the President’s remarks were ‘tribal’ and aimed at further frustrating the DP’s quest for the presidency.

“It was indeed sad coming from the President who is supposed to be the symbol of national unity. It was wrong to say that just because the President and his father have ruled, there is no chance for any Kikuyu to lead this country,” Kihika said.

Tangatanga brigade that backs Ruto has lashed out at the President, maintaining that his statements are an indication of the state’s panic following DP’s growing influence across the country.

However, analysts opine that Uhuru’s pronouncement is an indication he will abandon Ruto from his succession matrix and pick a different heir.

With Uhuru having technically ruled out Ruto and Kanu leader Senator Gideon Moi — who also hails from the Kalenjin community — from his succession plans, the President appears to be looking at the Nasa trio for a presidential candidate. 

There is speculation that Uhuru is determined to have the Nasa leaders stick together and  then share the leadership spoils proposed in the BBI amendment proposal.

The statement is also likely to elbow Ruto from Mt Kenya and give the three an avenue to penetrate the region.

Mudavadi, will work closely with Raila to annihilate the DP out of western Kenya.

Political risk Analyst Dismas Mokua admitted  the President could be working on a programme to ensure the Nasa principals remained an item to ward off Ruto’s offensive.

“The President is keen to keep the principals united to get the necessary ammunition to take on Ruto and vanquish his State House run,” Mokua said, adding that if the three go separate ways, then Ruto might be unbeatable.

The DP’s fortunes in Mt Kenya region, where his support is said to be a concern to Uhuru’s power men, faces a major onslaught from an imminent charm offensive from the President.

Uhuru is planning to reclaim the BBI narrative and strengthen his camp in a bid to vanquish Ruto.

President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was hosted by ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of KIsumu county on October 22.
PALS: President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was hosted by ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of KIsumu county on October 22.

In his Central backyard, the President will tout BBI as the panacea of their problems and cobble a political machine to wipe out Ruto’s footprints.

There are fears Mt Kenya will be out of the presidency for decades after Uhuru’s reign, a scenario that might leave the vote-rich region out of state power.

The expanded government under the BBI proposals with at least five key slots at the helm of the Executive is expected to offer the region a silver lining.

This is the reason Uhuru is launching an aggressive campaign to neutralise Ruto, a scheme that would further complicate his Mt Kenya fortunes.

Fresh from last week’s stinging rebuke that appeared to puncture Ruto’s ambitions, Uhuru is set to begin marketing the BBI in his  backyard.

The strategy is aimed at reversing the DP’s hustler nation narrative and reframe the conversation around the BBI document’s benefits for the region ahead of the referendum.

Already, the President’s allies have launched grassroots campaigns in the region, with MPs taking charge of their respective jurisdictions to market BBI.

Last week, about 41 elected MPs held a brainstorming session at a hotel in Thika where they crafted a scheme to turn the tables on Ruto.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu told the Star that the President is expected to tour the region sometime later after the elected leaders marshal up the grassroots.

“We have developed a programme that will see elected leaders take charge of the BBI in their respective constituencies,” Ngunjiri said.

According to the Kieleweke wing pioneer, there is concerted efforts from Uhuru’s allies to ring-fence the region and enhance the BBI fortunes.

“The plan is to make all our constituencies BBI strongholds,’ Ngunjiri said.

Central leaders have been raising concerns that BBI is unpopular in Mt Kenya following Ruto’s ferocious incursions with the Tangatanga faction of Jubilee.

He is leading a national charm offensive against the country’s elite political families, a strategy that is seen to be working to his advantage at the expense of Uhuru’s plans.

However, the President’s camp, which has been rattled by Ruto’s growing influence in his backyard, is now ready to roll back the rhetoric to promote BBI.

The vote rich region is very critical in defining Uhuru successor, with key leaders, among them Raila, relying in its backing to boost their 2022 ambitions.

While Raila is yet to publicly declare what would be the fifth stab at the presidency, he is said to have kicked a programme to revamp his ODM party to position it ahead of the polls.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo on Thursday said ODM is ready with their candidate Raila to take on Ruto next year.

“For us in ODM we are ready and Raila is our candidate,” Odhiambo said.

The vocal MP warned that Ruto should be ready for a bruising battle in next year’e elections.

“We are prepared for a mother of all political fights and I want to say that the future of this country is within the hands of the President and the former Prime minister under the handshake arrangement,” she said.