I don’t want another mandate, Uhuru tells Handshake critics
By Seth Onyango and George Kebaso
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday waded into the 2022 succes President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday reignited the 2022 succession politics and told off those accusing him of using the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to extend his mandate.
Uhuru tore into the Tanga Tanga faction of the ruling Jubilee Party, that is allied to Deputy President William Ruto, for fuelling claims that he and Opposition leader Raila Odinga were using the March 2018 Handshake to entrench dynasty rule.
Speaking when he opened Phase 2A of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Nairobi to Naivasha for passenger services, the Head of State said he was “tired and ready to go home” at the end of his term and told those spreading the propaganda to stop it.
“Those talking about BBI… I don’t want another mandate. I don’t want any job. I am tired. BBI is meant to ensure that no Kenyan sheds blood because of political competition. We want peace. I know together with Raila we will achieve it,” he said.
For the first time, the President publicly endorsed the BBI, exuding confidence that it would sail through as he dismissed opponents of the initiative as “con men”.
“We will be back with BBI very soon. Let no one lie to you that it is about politics,” the President told hundreds of Ngong residents, after commissioning the Ngong SGR station.
The President repeated the same message at various stopovers he made between Nairobi and Naivasha as he commissioned the project.
In a direct assault against those opposed to the BBI initiative, Uhuru urged Kenyans to be wary of naysayers.
“Wachaneni na matapeli (ignore these con men),” the President, who at some point used his vernacular Kikuyu dialect to express his point, said.
He said political ambitions should not blind leaders on the need for solutions to challenges ailing the country for decades. “If there is a legacy I want to leave, it is that of unity so that no more blood is shed because of politics,” he said.
“What do they want?” he posed, without mentioning names, but in a clear reference to those critical of his political truce with Raila. His assurance somehow eases political uncertainties within the Ruto’s camp which has openly expressed reservations about the BBI agenda for a plebiscite, saying it was meant to create a prime minister’s position to keep Uhuru in power.
The President spoke as it became apparent that the Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot’s Punguza Mizigo Bill which aims to reduce the size of the Executive is facing imminent defeat.
By yesterday, 23 County Assemblies had rejected the bill which aims to shrink the size of government in a bid to tame the runaway wage bill. (See separate story)
Yesterday was not the first time the President was stating his position about retirement after serving for two terms as prescribed by the Constitution.
In an interview with CNN in October last year, Uhuru gave an assurance he will not cling to power after his second term ends.
Responding to questions from CNN anchor Richard Quest, the Head of State said he was not interested in staying on.
“People are talking about constitutional changes not necessarily because they are desirous of the President to seek a third term. They are talking about constitutional change because of issues related to the costs of running this new Constitution,” he said.
Uhuru clarified that political competition with Raila and his allies ─ Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and others was not conducive for the country’s stability and development, the reason why he reached out to them.
“I reached out to Raila and his allies, and asked them to come and work with us in the government so that this country can move forward,” he said.
He said it was unacceptable that after every five years, politicians invite Kenyans to fight yet it is not their blood that spills. “The blood being spilled does not belong to the politicians; their wives or children,” he said.
The President cautioned Kenyans to be wary of politicians who are promising them heaven while preaching vanity and politics of hate.
Yesterday, Uhuru listed various projects that have been completed because of peace and stability that he attributed to the March 9, 2018 Handshake.
“We were in Mombasa recently to inspect a number of ongoing projects, and we are going back to operationalise the Dongo Kundu bypass which will greatly see reduction of accidents witnessed in the Likoni Channel.
“I was in Kisumu Port yesterday (Tuesday) and I witnessed a ship arrive from Kampala with cargo containers. Here we are at the Kumuka area, we have water that we didn’t have. We have already seen one of Africa’s biggest port in Lamu completed, and will enhance business between Kenya and countries in the Northern Corridor. All these have been achieved because of peace that has prevailed since my handshake with Raila,” the President added.
He was accompanied by more than 10 Cabinet secretaries; six governors including Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Lee Kunyanjui (Nakuru), Samuel Tunai (Narok), embattled Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Alfred Mutua (Machakos).
Some of the stop-overs included Ongata Rongai, Ngong station, Kumuka water project near Mahi Mahiu, Ngong tunnel, Suswa SGR station and the site where the Inland Container Depot (ICD) is to be built in Naivasha.