Development agenda in Ruto Central tour
On his third day visit to Central Kenya, President William Ruto continued to drum up support for his agenda aimed to grow the economy of the region that overwhelmingly backed him in the last General Election.
The President was accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and elected leaders from the region in his first major tour after the last year’s elections.
His tour kicked off Saturday in Kiambu where he launched projects and addressed residents. On Sunday, he held interdenominational prayers at Sagana, State Lodge attended by church leaders and local residents. The President told Nyeri residents his government would complete all the stalled projects in the region.
“We shall complete the 600km of roads which were started but left unfinished within Nyeri County because we want to keep our promise on matters of roads,” he said.
He urged residents to take advantage of the reduced prices of subsidised fertilizer to increase land for farming, saying that it was the only way of addressing high food prices.
“We want all farmers to help us fight hunger and the only way to achieve this is by lowering the cost of farm inputs and not subsidising the cost of maize flour,” President Ruto added.
On education, he said: “We have employed 56,000 teachers in the last eight months so that all children can learn and additionally we have increased budgetary allocation for TVETs and universities to benefit the youth who are the biggest treasure for our human capital.”
However, Gachagua who is the most senior politician from the region in the current government was the man to watch in Ruto’s visit to the mountain.
Unlike in the past, Gachagua appeared to have gone slow on his criticism of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta but went head-on with his broadsides at Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga.
Gachagua, fearing that Odinga wants a piece of cake in the government, has gone all out to express his dissatisfaction should his boss forge a close political relationship with Raila.
“I was a frequent visitor here between 2013 and 2017. After the Handshake, I was thrown out. That’s why if we hear about the Handshake, we get afraid,” Gachagua said on Sunday at Sagana State Lodge.
Gachagua yesterday told Mukurwe-ini residents that he would guard Ruto against the opposition who want to interfere with his administration directing Kenya Kwanza team in the yet-to-start peace talks to compel Azimio leadership to denounce violence as means of solving political issues as a precondition of the yet to start peace talks.
He was backed by elected leaders who accompanied President Ruto maintaining there would be no handshake between the government and the opposition.
Ruto’s visit comes amid a growing hostility towards Kenya Kwanza regime and Gachagua is out to make amends with his home turf for the government he is serving.
Before the region joined opposition strongholds in anti-government protests over among other issues high cost of living, some Ruto allies were already fueling anger among supporters of Kenyatta through their public attacks. In the eyes of the Mt Kenya residents, Kenyatta still remains a political heavyweight, a level Gachagua is yet to attain one year down the line after the 2022 August elections.
The disrespectful undertones directed to the fourth president from United Democratic Alliance (UDA) inner circle were happening under full watch of the deputy president especially at the height of anti-government protests when there was a twin attack on Kenyatta’s Northlands farm in Ruiru was looted, and a tree plantation set ablaze as well as East Africa Spectre gas firm associated with Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga.
The leaders felt it was Gachagua’s role to tame the lawmakers from the region as he occupies a higher office in the government yet the young lawmakers’ influence cannot go beyond their respective constituencies,
Here Gachagua faces his first litmus test as the region’s kingpin on how he will command the unity of elected leaders some of who have greater political experience than him and contributed largely to Ruto’s presidential win.
Four years before the next general election and without a political party to call his own like other highly placed Kenya Kwanza leaders, it is a wait-and-see situation for Gachagua on how he fortifies his political strength nationally and deliver the 70 per cent votes up from the 47 they got last elections as he promised his boss in Sagana.