Politics took centre stage as athlete Nicholas Bett was given a hero’s send-off at his Simat village home in Uasin Gishu County yesterday.
The 2015 400m hurdles World Champion died in a road accident in Nandi County last week after the car he was driving veered off the road and landed in a ditch near Lessos along the Eldoret-Kapsabet road.
The athlete was said to have hit a speed bump and lost control of his car at Sochoi.
He was in Team Kenya and competed in the recent African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria.
Speaking at the burial yesterday, Deputy President William Ruto directed the concerned ministries to ensure that the stadiums the Jubilee administration had promised were completed by next year.
Other politicians present assured Mr Ruto of their support ahead of the 2022 elections.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and his Uasin Gishu colleague Jackson Mandago, Senator Margaret Kamar and businessman Zedekiah Bundotich alias Buzeki assured the DP of their support.
Buzeki said: “Take it easy. Strategies are already in place to ensure you take over the house on the hill. The plans are going well.
“We know you are a front-runner in the 2022 presidential race. Just know you have our full support. You should just relax and concentrate on your work of ensuring development in the country. Once the bell rings to signal the beginning of the race, step up and do what athletes such as Bett do and triumph,” said Buzeki, a former governorship candidate for Uasin Gishu.
Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa urged Rift Valley residents to support the DP in his bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He called on voters in North Rift, Ruto’s backyard, not to falter but to remain steadfast in supporting their own in his quest for presidency.
“In western Kenya, we have decided to back the DP ahead of the next General Election. Rift Valley should also rally behind the DP, who played a key role in Jubilee’s win in both the 2013 and 2017 elections,” said Mr Echesa.
Mr Sudi said: “We should be wise as Kalenjins and not allow others to break our unity. Some are ready to divide us so that Ruto loses his base but we will not agree. We are near the end of the race and we do not want division and hate. We will support your bid for the presidency.”
Area Senator Kamar lauded the Government for its efforts to ensure local farmers were paid for maize delivered to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). The national government recently released Sh1.4 billion to pay the farmers.
Nandi Governor Sang said the community already knew who its leader was ahead 2022.
“We know what politics and leadership is because we have seen development. We have seen roads and hospitals and we understand what being in government means. 2022 is our chance and we should not waste it. We want the highest seat in the land,” said Sang.
He cautioned those meeting the ‘enemies’ with the aim of dividing the people that their schemes would not succeed.
Uasin Gishu Governor Mandago said they would not allow leaders to divide the community.
The DP assured residents that the construction of stadiums in Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties as well as Kamariny Stadium in Elgeyo Marakwet would be completed soon to provide training grounds for hundreds of athletes from the region.
Ruto’s remarks came after KTN’s report on Wednesday that the Government had failed to keep its promise on the stadiums.