DP Ruto and Raila plan to control Mt. Kenya vote

NASA leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto. [File Photo, Standard]
Politicians outside Mt. Kenya region may be manipulating the region’s politics to ensure that the vote-rich region fails to have a common direction come 2022 and influence its break up along the Central - Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru axis.

Such a break-up will mean the region’s influence in national politics is tamed, a move meant to benefit those with intentions of growing support independent of Mt. Kenya vote bloc and weakening its bargaining power at the national table.

Irungu Nyakera, the Stanford University educated, 37-year-old former Permanent Secretary, now the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party, has cautioned in an interview that Mt. Kenya leaders must start regular meetings to avoid becoming puppets of external forces.

“If we are not engaging regularly enough, if we are not planning, then we shall be in trouble. If [the] Mt. Kenya [bloc] breaks, it is finished,” said Irungu in an interview with Mt. Kenya Star.

SEE ALSO :Report links ODM dwindling fortunes to ‘sale’ of tickets

His sentiments come at a time of rising concerns that one arm of the Jubilee is using financial incentives to influence the direction of Mt. Kenya politics. President Uhuru Kenyatta previously came out strongly to condemn region’s leaders who have been engaged in constant politics instead of being development-focused, a matter which among which contributed to the fault-lines of his now uncertain relations with the Deputy President William Ruto.

Earlier, the president and his emissaries warned those seen as being used to internally influence local politics that they will be campaigned against come 2022 to lose their seats.

Equally, however, there is a growing concern of the eventual outcome that ODM Leader Raila Odinga’s closeness to Uhuru, with fears within the section of Mt. Kenya that it may end up as disfranchisement.

According to Irungu, it is not the first time that Mt. Kenya politics is getting manipulated, citing the case of Jubilee nominations ahead of the 2017 general elections when he says, in some counties, rigging was undertaken to ensure that performers do not win.

The youthful leader said Mt. Kenya leaders must create a common political platform to address various challenges affecting the region and in particular matters of economic welfare given the enterprise tradition of the region.

SEE ALSO :Ruto: I will not let Raila split Jubilee over handshake

He spoke of a need for a permanent think-tank to generate ideas on how the region should strengthen its social-political and economic growth while enhancing national integration.

“The people of Mt. Kenya are already disillusioned. There is much that was expected from the current government. Only a little of it has been delivered. We feel the region is being marginalized and that is why we came up as the Democratic Party to speak on behalf of this region,” said Irungu.

Democratic Party was formed in 1991 by several leaders led by retired President Mwai Kibaki among others who had broken off from Kanu. The party enjoyed strong support in counties of Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Meru (then as districts) but generally still commands emotional support in the larger Mt. Kenya, helped by the relatively successful economic policies of Kibaki.

In the recent past, the party has started arousing interest as it is seen being out of grip of ‘old-money’ which partially controls the region’s current most popular TNA wing of the Jubilee.

Democratic Party is building the profile of a transition party, post-Uhuru presidency and his kingpin status in Mt. Kenya, whereas while he will remain a political force, there is an emerging consensus for a need to align the political play towards economic-empowerment politics.

SEE ALSO :Judge quashes gun charges against Jimi Wanjigi

The envisaged outcome is to enhance the ability of the region to take advantage of global opportunities, by not just being importing traders from China but also suppliers to the growing local, regional and global markets’ demand for food and services. 

Irungu said the party is building to be the prominent representative of the interests of Mt. Kenya region which have been eroded by some of the policies being implemented by the current government. 

“For instance, people need to be educated on the upcoming census and the fact that it will determine resource allocation for the next ten years. Our people should also be educated to look at the forthcoming referendum from an economic perspective rather than political.”

“We need to know and find ways to change the fact that in terms of revenue allocation given by the national government to the counties, Kiambu and Meru, for example, receive on Sh6,000 per person, yet Marsabit receives Sh24,000 per person and Turkana receives Sh28,000 per person. In essence, our people are being marginalised.”

“But how do we address this matter without a platform? We urgently need one. We are having dialogue and there is a consensus that this is needed. A lot of people are coming on board and are providing a lot of value towards this end. People are hungry for such a forum.”

SEE ALSO :Leaders laud registration exercise, urge citizens to embrace project

Irungu, who hails from Murang’a County termed Nairobi as another case of marginalization of Mt. Kenya region despite about 40 per cent of its population being of people from the region.

He spoke of a lack of representation at Nairobi County administration following the acrimonious resignation of Polycarp Igathe as the Deputy Governor, and a deliberate failure to replace him since then, unexplained sackings and frustration-induced resignations of senior officials from Mt. Kenya who had been serving at the county.

He spoke of harassment of small businesses which are largely owned by the people from Mt. Kenya, saying some of these issues are planned and should not be taken for granted.

“We all know what is right and what needs to be done. We will not wait to be told. We need to do it. This is why we are in regular discussions among the leaders. We need to come together because we first need to focus on what will benefit our people before we talk about political alliances with other regions.”

Uhuru-Ruto

One of the issues that have come up over the uncertainty of relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto is the perception of dependability of the Mt. Kenya vote bloc in forming political alliances.

While there are concerns that should there be total fallout, Mt. Kenya will be perceived as a dishonest partner, Irungu said this will depend on the nature of the fallout.

“Will the fallout be because we just decided that we do not want Ruto or is it about other issues of national concern that have led to this fallout?” noted Irungu.

“But we cannot speak about the issue now and we should let it unfold. We should stop spending our energy on the two because, in politics, a day is too long. Things change. We saw the two have lunch the other day. We were all surprised by the handshake.”

“For Mt. Kenya region, the priority as I have said is to develop a common agenda that benefits our people. Northern Kenya counties already have their agenda working and that is why they get huge allocations. We should be asking why places like Ithanga in Murang’a or parts of Tharaka Nithi are a semi-desert yet they do not get favourable allocations given to areas facing similar environmental issues.”

The financial engineer who has worked at top level with Equity Bank and Citi Bank among others says lack of regular dialogue has seen Mt. Kenya suffer most from some of the policies that the administration of Uhuru is implementing like the opening borders for import of cheaper eggs and milk. Some of these are implemented under the guise of common regional trade relations which however many Kenyans feel are disadvantaging locals.

“Our priority must be to protect our economy. Relations are secondary. Look at what the United States is doing to ensure it protects its industries. Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions. When other countries realise that you are firm and that you respect your people, they will start treating you the same way.”

Mt. Kenya succession

With the exit of Uhuru from the presidency, there is a growing feeling that while he will remain a resource for the region, there is need to groom new leadership to represent the interests of Mt. Kenya.

“There will be a next leader for the region, a politician to fight for our interests. But that leader must be nurtured by the people of Mt. Kenya. However, will this happen if we do not have a common political forum? No. That person is out there and there is a need for a common forum to start grooming that person.”

“Currently because of lack of regular engagements, any leader who tries to come up for the region is fought. This needs to stop. Mt. Kenya needs a Think-Tank that will assist in addressing all these issues.” 

Politicians outside Mt. Kenya region may be manipulating the region’s politics as part of ensuring that the vote-rich region fails to have a common direction come 2022 and influence its break up along the Central - Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru axis.

Such a break-up will mean the region’s influence in national politics is tamed, a move meant to benefit those with intentions of growing support independent of Mt. Kenya vote bloc and weakening its bargaining power at the national table.

Irungu Nyakera, the Stanford University educated, 37-year-old former Permanent Secretary, now the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party, has cautioned in an interview that Mt. Kenya leaders must start regular meetings to avoid them becoming puppets of external forces.

“If we are not engaging regularly enough, if we are not planning, then we shall be in trouble. If Mt. Kenya breaks, it is finished,” said Irungu in an interview with Mt. Kenya Star.

His sentiments come at a time of rising concerns that one arm of the Jubilee is using financial incentives to influence the direction of Mt. Kenya politics. President Uhuru Kenyatta previously come out strongly to condemn region’s leaders who have been engaged in constant politics instead of being development-focused, a matter which among which contributed to the fault-lines of his now uncertain relations with the Deputy President William Ruto.

Earlier, the president and his emissaries warned those seen as being used to internally influence local politics that they will be campaigned against come 2022 to lose their seats.

Equally, however, there is a growing concern of the eventual outcome that ODM Leader Raila Odinga’s closeness to Uhuru, with fears within the section of Mt. Kenya that it may end up as disfranchisement.

According to Irungu, it is not the first time that Mt. Kenya politics are getting manipulated, citing the case of Jubilee nominations ahead of the 2017 general elections when he says, in some counties, rigging was undertaken to ensure that performers do not win.

The youthful leader said Mt. Kenya leaders must create a common political platform to address various challenges affecting the region and in particular matters of economic welfare given the enterprise tradition of the region.

He spoke of a need for a permanent Think-Tank that provides intellectual ideas on how the region should strengthen its social-political and economic growth while enhancing national integration.

“The people of Mt. Kenya are already disillusioned. There is much that was expected from the current government. Only a little of it has been delivered. We feel the region is being marginalized and that is why we came up as the Democratic Party to speak on behalf of this region,” said Irungu.

Democratic Party was formed in 1991 by several leaders led by retired President Mwai Kibaki among others who had broken off from the KANU administration. The party enjoyed strong support in counties of Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Meru (then as districts) but generally still commands emotional support in the larger Mt. Kenya, helped by the relatively successful economic policies of Kibaki.

In the recent past, the party has started arousing interest as it is seen being out of grip of the ‘old-money’ which partially controls the region’s current most popular TNA wing of the Jubilee.

Democratic Party is building profile of a transition party, post Uhuru presidency and his kingpin status in Mt. Kenya, whereas while he will remain a political force, there is an emerging consensus for a need to align the political play towards economic-empowerment politics.

The envisaged outcome is to enhance ability of the region to take advantage of global opportunities, by not just being importing traders from China but also suppliers to the growing local, regional and global markets’ demand for food and services. 

Irungu said the party is building to be the prominent representative of the interests of Mt. Kenya region which have been eroded by some of the policies being implemented by the current government. 

“For instance, people need to be educated on the upcoming census and the fact that it will determine resource allocation for the next ten years. Our people should also be educated to look at the forthcoming referendum from an economic perspective rather than political.”

“We need to know and find ways to change the fact that in terms of revenue allocation given by the national government to the counties, Kiambu and Meru, for example, receive on Sh6,000 per person, yet Marsabit receives Sh24,000 per person and Turkana receives Sh28,000 per person. In essence, our people are being marginalised.”

“But how do we address this matter without a platform? We urgently need one. We are having dialogue and there is a consensus that this is needed. A lot of people are coming on board and are providing a lot of value towards this end. People are hungry for such a forum.”

Irungu, who hails from Murang’a County termed Nairobi as another case of marginalization of Mt. Kenya region despite about 40 per cent of its population being of people from the region.

He spoke of a lack of representation at Nairobi County administration following the acrimonious resignation of Polycarp Igathe as the Deputy Governor, and a deliberate failure to replace him since then, unexplained sackings and frustration-induced resignations of senior officials from Mt. Kenya who had been serving at the county.

He spoke of harassment of small businesses which are largely owned by the people from Mt. Kenya, saying some of these issues are planned and should not be taken for granted.

“We all know what is right and what needs to be done. We will not wait to be told. We need to do it. This is why we are in regular discussions among the leaders. We need to come together because we first need to focus on what will benefit our people before we talk about political alliances with other regions.”

Uhuru-Ruto

One of the issues that have come up over the uncertainty of relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto is the perception of dependability of the Mt. Kenya vote bloc in forming political alliances.

While there are concerns that should there be total fallout, Mt. Kenya will be perceived as a dishonest partner, Irungu said this will depend on the nature of the fallout.

“Will the fallout be because we just decided that we do not want Ruto or is it about other issues of national concern that have led to this fallout?” noted Irungu.

“But we cannot speak about the issue now and we should let it unfold. We should stop spending our energy on the two because, in politics, a day is too long. Things change. We saw the two have lunch the other day. We were all surprised by the handshake.”

“For Mt. Kenya region, the priority as I have said is to develop a common agenda that benefits our people. Northern Kenya counties already have their agenda working and that is why they get huge allocations. We should be asking why places like Ithanga in Murang’a or parts of Tharaka Nithi are a semi-desert yet they do not get favourable allocations given to areas facing similar environmental issues.”

The financial engineer who has worked  with Equity Bank and Citi Bank among others says lack of regular dialogue has seen Mt. Kenya suffer most from some of the policies that the administration of Uhuru is implementing like the opening borders for import of cheaper eggs and milk. Some of these are implemented under the guise of common regional trade relations which however many Kenyans feel are disadvantaging locals.

“Our priority must be to protect our economy. Relations are secondary. Look at what the United States is doing to ensure it protects its industries. Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions. When other countries realise that you are firm and that you respect your people, they will start treating you the same way.”

Mt. Kenya succession

With the exit of Uhuru from the presidency, there is a growing feeling that while he will remain a resource for the region, there is need to groom new leadership to represent the interests of Mt. Kenya.

“There will be a next leader for the region, a politician to fight for our interests. But that leader must be nurtured by the people of Mt. Kenya. However, will this happen if we do not have a common political forum? No. That person is out there and there is a need for a common forum to start grooming that person.”

“Currently because of lack of regular engagements, any leader who tries to come up for the region is fought. This needs to stop. Mt. Kenya needs a think-tank that will assist in addressing all these issues.” 

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Raila OdingaMt. Kenya