Deputy President William Ruto has embarked on a new strategy to tame the resurgence of Gideon Moi and bolster his support in the vote-rich Rift Valley in the intensified campaign to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The DP has lined up his foot soldiers in the region who have started campaigning to counter the Baringo senator’s spirited efforts to woo the Rift Valley.
The younger Moi has made numerous visits to Uasin Gishu County, the political bedrock of DP Ruto, targeting clerics, community leaders and opinion shapers in what political pundits believe is aimed at taking charge of Rift Valley politics.
He has held meetings with farmers’ representatives to tackle the contentious pricing of maize, which forms the economic lifeline of the region.
The electorate has in the past taken issue with DP Ruto for remaining mum on agriculture matters, which Senator Moi is out to capitalise on.
But in what is seen as a counter-attack, Dr Ruto’s camp has settled on Aldai MP Cornelius Serem and his Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi to take on his critics and foster his presidential quest.
The DP’s lieutenants have fired a warning shot to the likes of Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Sila Tiren (Moiben), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi) and Dr Swarup Mishra (Kesses) that they are no longer spearheading the community’s interests but their own.
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is also DP’s de-facto spokesperson and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), have been left to deal with national issues.
Mr Sudi, an ardent defender of the DP, said MCAs have been put on the frontline to preach their 2022 agenda at the grassroots in a move to block Senator Moi.
“At the moment, our ward reps are out to ensure that our people at the grassroots know why the region has to rally behind DP Ruto come 2022. In fact, it is meaningless for Gideon to compete with Dr Ruto, perhaps with me because when we were campaigning for Uhuru, he was not with us but the region voted for the candidate we were backing,” Mr Sudi said.
Mr Serem yesterday told the Saturday Nation that those who do not support the DP’s 2022 State House bid will have an uphill task seeking re-election, arguing that as leaders from Rift Valley, they have agreed that everyone has to drum up support for Dr Ruto.
He accused those against the DP’s presidential quest of lying to the people; claiming that when they go to the ground, they claim that they are backing him but while in Nairobi, they make statements which undermine the DP.
“Anyone who is not supporting the DP for the presidency must know that they are heading to political oblivion. We must tell our people that these individuals led by Kutuny are lying to them and do not need backing for any seat,” said Mr Serem.
President Kenyatta kicked out Senator Murkomen from the majority leader’s office and replaced him with Senator Moi’s close ally, Mr Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot).
Early this year, the President went ahead to isolate his deputy in the vote-rich Rift Valley by appointing Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, a crony of the senator, to spearhead the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns in the DP’s backyard, a move that caused jitters.
In the DP’s North Rift political bedrock, it is now evident that the newly elected deputy speaker in the Senate and Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar are some of the President’s closest allies as the relationship between the Head of State and the DP’s lieutenants gets frosty.
Though the election has thrust Prof Kamar into the limelight, raising her political profile in the Rift Valley, opinion is divided, with some viewing it as betrayal to ‘the course of democracy’.
Those against her election view it as opportunistic as she took the position following a purge on Dr Ruto’s allies in both the Senate and the National Assembly. The DP endorsed Prof Kamar’s senatorial bid in 2017.
Mr Kositany has termed Prof Kamar’s election as a big blow to democracy.
“We will never succeed democratically in this country so long as people will be used to take positions whose previous occupants were stripped of them illegally,” Mr Kositany said.
For Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono, anyone who does not toe their line is a traitor who should not be elected in 2022.
“We are yet to commence campaigns against them but they have to be scolded because DP Ruto is our community leader and those who do not support him must be shown the door,” said Mr Rono.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the community has taken a political direction and anyone who goes contrary to the people’s will must be thrown out.
Mr Kositany revealed that after the coronation of Dr Ruto recently by Talai elders, he remains the community’s political kingpin.
Dr Ruto, who was accompanied by his foot soldiers, used an event in his North Rift bastion after meeting with the clergy at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu county to assure leaders allied to him and the residents that all was well while asking them not to panic and desist from engaging in divisive politics.
Speaking in vernacular, he exuded confidence that despite the axing of his lieutenants, he remains unshaken.
The DP warned those regrouping to block his 2022 State House bid that they will be in for a rude shock.