Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event/Image: FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta is planning to reclaim the Building Bridges Initiative narrative and strengthen his camp in a bid to vanquish his deputy William Ruto’s State House run.

Fresh from a stinging rebuke on Saturday that punctured Ruto’s ambition and sent his allies on the defensive, Uhuru is set to begin marketing the BBI in his Mt Kenya backyard.

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

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

Crucially, Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata warned Uhuru in December that the process was headed for a ‘spectacular failure’ in the region. Ten governors from Central dismissed Kang’ata’s warning, saying the people need to be sensitised. Kang’ata apologised, but the damage had been done. 

Ruto is also leading a national campaign against the country’s elite political families, a strategy that is seen to be working to his advantage.

However, the President’s camp is now ready to roll back this rhetoric as well. 

Part of the plan is to ensure ODM leader Raila Odinga, ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper honcho Kalonzo Musyoka remain united to ward off Ruto’s machine.

The trio would give Uhuru the necessary political momentum and cover to take Ruto head-on without fear of far-reaching consequences.

In his Central backyard, the President will tout the BBI as the panacea of their problems as well as cobble a political machine to wipe out Ruto’s footprints. Key Kieleweke allies of the President will take a leading role in this plan. 

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said all leaders allied to the President from the region will camp in their constituencies to make them ‘BBI strongholds’.

“We are planning aggressive campaigns to market BBI in all our constituencies in Mt Kenya to counter some propaganda that we don’t agree with. In the next weeks we are hitting the ground,” Wambugu said. 

Uhuru spent Saturday night at the Kisumu State lodge met Governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Anyang’ Nyong’o of Kisumu.

This comes months after Uhuru’s triumphant entry into Raila’s Nyanza base,  triggering excitement from the ODM chief’s followers that the President would endorse him. Since then, Ruto has made numerous trips to Western and to Gusii land to test his mettle. 

Buoyed by Uhuru’s return to the grassroots, his allies will be highlighting key BBI proposals that promise massive benefits for Mt Kenya region. These include at least 30 additional constituencies and increased allocation of county revenue.

Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange said a lot of efforts will be directed at countering the misinformation and brainwashing of the region by the Tangatanga brigade.

“Mt Kenya region will benefit a lot from the BBI proposals yet some people have been misinforming our people; the truth is that the region is well catered for in the BBI,” Koinange said. 

There are fears that 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. 

On Saturday, some 41 MPs allied to the President from Central convened in Thika to plan how to market BBI in the region amid concerns of lukewarm support.

More meetings are lined up in the next two weeks before the President hits the ground to salvage his BBI fortunes ahead of the referendum.

Uhuru, who is fighting for BBI as part of his legacy plan, wants to unleash an anti-Ruto narrative that could nosedive the DP’s gains in the region crucial for his presidential prospects.

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, an influential Uhuru ally, on Sunday told the Star that the President will soon step out to protect his territory from infiltration.

“Once the President moves across Mt Kenya marketing BBI, that would be the end of the noisemakers moving around trying to mislead the region,” Kamanda said.

According to the former Starehe MP, the President has been lenient for a long time but time has come for him to stamp his authority and provide the direction for “his people.”

“It will no longer be the same, the misinformation about BBI and attempts to incite the region against the President will be countered ruthlessly,” Kamanda said.

On Saturday, Uhuru took the stage of the Mudavadi matriarch’s funeral to pick holes into Ruto’s hustler versus dynasty narrative.

“If there’s any truth from those who spoke and that you are tired of certain families and now you are saying it’s time for others… then if that is your logic, I can also stand here and say… there are only two communities that have ruled Kenya since Independence… maybe it’s time for another community to lead, isn’t that so?” Uhuru asked amid cheers by mourners.

Some of Ruto’s allies at the funeral had chided the handshake team for propagating ‘dynasty politics’ as Uhuru listened. 

Since Independence, only the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin communities have ruled the country. Ruto who hails from the latter community is seeking a first stab at the presidency in the 2022 polls.

Founding President Jomo Kenyatta (Kikuyu) was succeeded by Daniel Moi (Kalenjin) then Mwaki Kibaki (Kikuyu) ended the Kanu era before Uhuru (Kikuyu) took office in 2013.

Political analysts Dismus Mokua told the Star that Ruto’s strategy will boomerang once Uhuru hits the ground.

“Ruto’s allies will be vanquished once Uhuru comes out to openly declare war against his deputy,” he said. 

The state machinery and government officials will be whipped against the DP to frustrate his rallies and counter his hustler nation messaging.

The DP’s ferocious hustler versus dynasty narrative has been seen as targeting Uhuru and Raila who are working to push for BBI changes.

Uhuru’s remarks on Saturday sparked outrage from Ruto’s allies who accused the President of whipping out the ethnic card to try to block their man from power.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika said a Kenyan President should be elected based on a manifesto to transform the lives of Kenyans rather than his community.

“The tribal card is retrogressive at a time when Kenyans are well informed and want to choose leaders based on their credentials and not tribe,” Kihika told the Star.

The Ruto ally maintained that the hustler nation will sweep the presidency next year because its ideologies resonate with the majority of Kenyans.

“When we elected President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, we did not look at his tribe, we did so because we believed he was best suited to lead this country,” she said.