Details: Ruto ‘dispatches’ allies to vernacular radio stations to ‘calm’ his support base
Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have moved to reassure his Rift Valley support base amidst reports that he has been increasingly isolated from the day-to-day running of government.
Ruto’s lieutenants led by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Soi MP Caleb Kositany and his Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi, simultaneously took to different vernacular radio stations yesterday to reassure the Kalenjin community that all was well with the DP.
The legislators also sought to dispel claims that the relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga had ruined Ruto’s chances of capturing the country’s top seat come the 2022 elections.
They also explained to the electorate their latest stand on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) amid reports that leaders allied to Ruto had mobilised dozens of MPs to attend Saturday’s Mombasa rally that is being organised by Raila’s allies.
Last evening, Sudi said at least 80 MPs allied to Ruto had indicated they would attend the rally, though the figure could not be confirmed.
“So far, by close of day today (yesterday), we had about 84 MPs who had confirmed that they will be in Mombasa. We are out to show them that we are not cowards and are ready to face them anywhere,” said Sudi.
Another of Ruto’s allies, Senator Samsom Cherargei (Nandi) said they were mobilising their colleagues to attend the Mombasa rally as “a true confirmation that we have completely changed our hearts over the BBI and are now supporting it”.
He added: “We want to ensure that all of us are there to leave no doubt that we are supporting BBI.” The senator, however, declined to confirm whether Ruto would attend.
During the radio interviews yesterday, the MPs took time to explain why they dropped their hard-line stance on the BBI rallies that are being spearheaded by Raila and his troops and reinforced by some Jubilee leaders and cabinet secretaries, with Senator Cheruiyot describing the move as “strategic”.
He said they did not want to antagonise Uhuru, adding that Ruto was averse to confrontational politics because “that is what ODM is looking for, to widen the rift and ruin his chances”.
“We respect the President. This is his government and he has the power to make decisions as he wishes.
You know if you’re under somebody you have little to say and most of the time you have to humble yourself,” said Cheruiyot.
By opting to attend BBI rallies, he said, they were killing two birds with one stone—obeying the President and stealing the thunder from Raila and his allies; and stopping them from using public forums to attack Ruto.
“We will be in Mombasa. We will attend all these rallies and also organise ours in our strongholds such as Kericho, Nakuru, Eldoret, Western, North Eastern, Eastern and parts of the Coast region,” he said, adding that there was a scheme by the Opposition to introduce a new BBI document.
The senator told listeners that the DP’s support base was strong and large. “We have made inroads in Western and I wish they allowed the Mumias meeting to proceed, you would have seen for yourselves,” he said.
He said they had the DP’s blessings to deliver the message. “He is as strong as ever. In fact, he told us that he has fought bigger battles in his political life including when he was fixed at the ICC (International Criminal Court) by his opponents…”
Cheruiyot said. “He told us, hey, don’t let these things worry you because they are normal and expected… We need to stay on course because 2022 is still far.”
Cheruiyot also revealed that governors and MPs supporting Ruto from other regions had prevailed upon Rift Valley leaders to “go slow” because they were being subjected to political persecution and victimisation for supporting the DP.
“After what happened to Governors Waititu (Kiambu), Sonko (Nairobi), Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, nobody wants to come out in the open; they fear being targeted by security agencies,” he pointed out.
Governors Ferdinand Waititu, Mike Sonko and Moses Lenolkulal are all facing corruption charges in court and have been barred from accessing their offices. Kuria is out on bond after being charged with assault.
On the other hand Kositany who spoke during our sister station Emoo FM’s breakfast show, claimed state agencies including the police were being used to harass politicians deemed to be close to Ruto, citing the case of Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri.
Revive old cases
“He (Ngunjiri) was grilled over claims that DP Ruto was locked out of his official residence in Mombasa yet no government official has come out to deny the story...” Kositany said.
He claimed that state agencies were reviving old cases in a bid to portray Ruto in bad light.
“The big question is why the President is quiet when the other side has made it their business to attack his deputy at every opportunity?” he posed.
The legislator, a long-time ally of the DP, urged the Kalenjin community to remain calm and steadfast.
“We’re hitting heavy turbulence but we’re going to land and reach our destination safely.” Despite the raging succession battles, Kositany assured listeners that government programmes were running normally noting that through Jubilee, millions of Kenyans were now connected to electricity thanks to the last mile project.