Left holding the short arm of the stick at Sagana State Lodge on Friday, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in the Mt Kenya region are back to the drawing board to reclaim the ground shaken by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
A tactful Kenyatta team had taken the wind out of their sails- carefully choosing who spoke, methodically demolishing their grievances, telling them to their face that they had forsaken the people, and promising to take it up with the masses in upcoming county rallies.
By the time Sagana dissolved, the President had also contradicted Ruto on the Kibra by-election, the essence of the handshake and the 2022 deal with Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Uhuru had also endorsed the “one man one vote one coin” rallying theme and announced the corrupt will have a snowball in hell chance of succeeding him. He successfully juggled statesman and tribal leader hats to carve out a balanced figure in turbulent times.
“His address was measured, wise, calculated and progressive. He gave something to everyone and pivoted to the epicenter, politically. He lowered the temperature considerably and emerged as the quintessential statesman,” lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi claimed yesterday.
But no sooner had the meeting ended than the DP’s Kieleweke brigade coalesced once again to re-look their strategy. A late lunch at the Ngorano village home of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua was hastily convened where 15 Ruto allies conducted a quick postmortem of the event.
Besides the host, those who attended the meeting were Susan Kihika (Nakuru Senator) and MPs Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Mary Wamaua (Maragua), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), John Kiarie (Dagorreti South) and Ndindi Nyoro of Kiharu.
Others were Woman Reps Catherine Waruguru (Laikipia) Beatrice Nkatha (Tharaka Nithi), Purity Ngirichi (Kirinyaga) and Rahab Mukami of Nyeri. “I regret attending it. It was a waste of time and nothing was achieved. It was choreographed to achieve the organisers intentions,” Mr Kuria said of the Sagana meeting, lifting the veil of the disappointment among his colleagues.
He told the Sunday Standard yesterday that those who spoke were predetermined and had been told what to say thus negating any effort at unity.
“Which unity are we talking about? I flew from Nairobi on a chopper, when I got to Sagana I was shown where to sit on the grass in the sun as if one one needs to be shown where to sit in an open space. The meeting flopped,” said the Gatundu South MP.
Mr Gachagua said he expected speakers to represent the wide spectrum of the leadership so that the divisions obtaining in Mt Kenya are discussed in the open.
“Instead, these leaders were not given a chance to speak. Muranga Woman Rep Sabina Chege was given the opportunity but she was not forceful enough in articulating our issues,” he complained.
Mr Ngunjiri also agrees that the meeting achieved the opposite of what it was intended to achieve, describing it a Kieleweke meet. He claimed that organisers made sure that certain MPs didn’t access the VIP tent.
The elevation of non-elected leaders to play prominent role in the meeting particularly irked them as fear abound that the President was electing to blindside them before pulling a political blow on them.
In his speech, the President repeatedly rolled over their grievances on them, saying they too were elected but had chosen to focus on the non-essentials of politics. He gave indication that they had failed to even draw his attention to real issues.
“I cannot comprehend why the President decided to work with people who are not elected. Why was the area MP not given a chance to speak if for sure this meeting was to bring leaders from Mt Kenya together? Why treat leaders with contempt in their own area?” Mr Ngunjiri posed.
He claimed it was shocking to see former MP Njenga Mungai being given a chance to talk on behalf of Nakuru yet, in his words, Njenga “is a political spent force.”
“Many people have underrated Uhuru’s moves but he pulls strategic ones, the Sagana meeting was one of them,” University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora said.
According to sources who attended the Gachagua lunch date, the team discussed their alleged humiliation by the President and how to counter the same in the coming days. Besides missing out on speaking slots, the bad chemistry between them and the President’s men was on full display in Sagana. When the President disembarked from the Kenya Air Force chopper, Nyeri leaders were at hand to receive him. There was a hearty handshake for Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and Kieni MP Kanini Kega.
But it was noticeably shaky and rushed handshake with Mr Gachagua and the Head of State appeared to deliberately avoid eye contact with the first term MP who has in the past served as his Personal Assistant.
Mr Kuria who had arrived in a chopper after the President was not even allowed into the VIP podium. Tigania West MP John Mutunga who arrived late was also barred from the red carpet area even as Igembe North’s Maoka Maore who arrived after him was rushed through the red carpet and given a strategic sitting position.
A photo of the group taken at the lunch date quickly circulated on social media of the Kieleweke team with identical caption: “Sagana was good. The region is united.”
“Tangatanga MPs still took time to show the middle finger to the President,” lawyer Donald Kipkorir said of the lunch photo.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta must consign the MPs on this picture to political Siberia. Kenya needs to heal and BBI Kenya will do it. Tangatanga MPs aren’t getting it,” he added.
Sources in Tangatanga told the Sunday Standard that the Gachagua lunch floated the idea of popularising the rejection of BBI ahead of the anticipated presidential tours of the region.
Igembe Central MP James Mithika, however, says anybody proposing to oppose the President’s four point wish list from BBI will have a hard time.
“How would one convince voters that the President is wrong in pursuing a push for equality of the vote when we have constituencies that have population of over 200,000 people much more than the vote in some entire counties?” posed Mithika.