Isolated in government and the ruling Jubilee Party, Deputy President William Ruto has now retreated to what his strategists call ‘safe zones’. He has been meeting political leaders from across the country and groups representing women, the youth and the clergy.
Long locked out of the exclusive nine-member club of the National Security Council, where he is constitutionally mandated to sit, the DP has now also seen the Inter-Governmental Budget and Economic Council, which he chairs, shunned by Cabinet secretaries and other senior civil servants.
Presidential election campaigns.
His allies who spoke to the Nation said Dr Ruto’s meetings with these groups at his official Karen residence and his Sugoi home in Eldoret have been a deliberate effort to increase his popularity by targeting opinion leaders who will then spearhead his 2022 presidential election campaigns.
On Thursday, the DP met political and religious leaders from Narok, furthering his call for a win-win solution to the revenue-sharing formula impasse, a position his allies now sees as the best compromise after ODM leader Raila Odinga also called for a formula that will ensure no county loses.
In the past two weeks alone, the DP has also met members of the East Africa Pentecostal Church led by Bishop Geoffrey Muthinja, joined by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, MPs, MCAs and other local leaders from Nyamira County where he promised a Sh2 billion schools upgrade programme.
He also held talks with religious leaders from Nakuru County, joined by area Senator Susan Kihika and Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri.
For the youth, small traders and the women groups, the DP has crafted his message around his own story – a chicken seller from a poor background who rose to his position as the country’s second most powerful man.
Dr Ruto, who had joined the church to oppose the 2010 Constitution but lost, has often used the pulpit to make heavy political statements.
“Due to the social distance directives and the ban on political gatherings, we have embarked on meetings at Karen and Sugoi to make friendship with everyone,” said Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany.
Dr Ruto’s camp believes concentrating on marketing him will work in their favour in case they opt for another party due to the frosty relationship between the President and his deputy.
“There is likelihood that we will not use Jubilee Party come 2022. Therefore, we have to brand DP Ruto to become a household name so that when we settle on another political party, it will not impact us negatively,” said Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who last week hosted a group of leaders from Kondele in Kisumu, said Dr Ruto had opened doors to the youth, women groups and the church to reach out to Mr Odinga’s backyard and other parts of the country.
Mr Sudi said they would take their 2022 agenda to every corner of the country.
“Even with the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot stop from strategising and with Karen and Sugoi, we are able to hold a series of meetings with leaders of various groups in the society to bolster our 2022 State House ambition,” said Mr Sudi.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the DP is out to empower the youth.