By Oscar Obonyo
For his ambition and speed, Eldoret North MP William Ruto is like the driver with full lights of his car on. Those who care to notice take precautions, but for some, who underestimate his speed, risk getting run over.
Having jumped from ODM to United Democratic Movement (UDM), Ruto quickly reversed on realising his way was strewn with thorns and opted for a third car, United Republican Party – all within a short time.
Barely a couple of weeks in the new vehicle, the politician has won a sizeable number of legislators to his side and criss-crossed virtually all corners of the country. Within the said time, his vehicle has outpaced Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi’s famed ‘bus’ – the Alliance Party of Kenya. This is in respect of the win of Igoji civic seat in Kiraitu’s Imenti South constituency, in a recent by-election.
“Charismatic, articulate, hardworking, ambitious and extremely restless” – that is how Miguna Miguna, former aide to Prime Minister Raila Odinga sums up Ruto’s character, in his new explosive text Peeling Back The Mask.
These are the very attributes that members of the G7 Alliance hope to harness in their bid to outmuscle Raila in the race to State House. Indeed as the race peaks, observers agree the one man who will hold the G7 Alliance together, and shape its campaign, is Ruto.
“I am not sure of the existence of this so-called G7 thing. What is clear though is that Ruto has teamed up with political friends ahead of General Election. He is at the centre of attraction because he boasts of a huge voting bloc,” says Macharia Munene, who teaches at the United States International University.
Despite staging his own presidential bid, the political commentator sees Ruto as “the man of the moment”, who will be the kingmaker. This, he attributes to his effective and forcefulness in political campaign as well as “command of numbers”.
“In the public perception, however, Ruto comes with a baggage of the old Kanu regime and lately cases in local and international courts. He may not be the only one in this kind of fix, but this may partly persuade him to turn over his numbers to another candidate,” says Munene.
The former minister separately shares a history with each of the G7 members, and is ideally the navel that glues together the grouping. He was a key player in Uhuru’s presidential bid in 2002 on a Kanu ticket. Today, the two have cases at The Hague, where they face charges for crimes against humanity.
Their power tussles in ODM notwithstanding, Ruto is reportedly also close to Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi, who is now allied to the G7 members. They worked closely as trusted lieutenants of former President Moi during the last days of the Kanu regime.