ODM leader Raila Odinga has described Deputy President William Ruto as his political student and of no muscle to stop the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process.
Raila recalled how he recruited Ruto to the ‘change movement’ and how Ruto – who has turned out to be his main political opponent in the 2022 succession battle – borrowed heavily from his (Raila’s) political manoeuvres.
Speaking during KTN’s Point Blank show last night, Raila said those opposed to his unity deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta should sit and watch how the waves will sweep across the country, including Central region, that is set to hold its meeting in Meru at the weekend.
“Why should I fight Ruto? In fact, it is me who recruited him to the change movement and helped him sharpen his political tactics,” said Raila.
Ruto campaigned for Uhuru in his unsuccessful debut presidential run in 2002 when Mwai Kibaki, who was with Raila in the Opposition coalition Narc, was elected president. Raila later fell out with President Kibaki and headed an Opposition wave that included Uhuru and Ruto that successfully campaigned against a government-sponsored draft constitution in 2005.
This gave birth to the Orange movement on whose ticket Raila would challenge President Kibaki in the 2007 election. Ruto was among the five ODM pentagon members - others were Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala and Joe Nyaga. Later Charity Ngilu was co-opted in the team.
The presidential vote ended in violence forcing a coalition government that saw Raila become prime minister with Ruto among his line-up for Cabinet as Agriculture minister. He later fired Ruto, marking the beginning of their political fallout.
Yesterday, the former premier explained that he has no personal differences with Ruto, but challenged the DP to join the fight against corruption – which, he said, was eating away the country’s resources.
Raila termed remarks by Ruto that he was investing his resources in heaven through church fundraisers as hogwash, saying he has never explained the source of the millions he dishes out every weekend.
“I want Ruto to be part of the struggle against corruption. Running around the country with bags of money in the name of building churches is hogwash,” he added.
Stopping BBI reggae
He also told Ruto to stop dreaming of stopping the “BBI reggae”, stating that the train has already left the station and was unstoppable.
Raila described BBI opponents as misguided individuals who see evil in every corner, adding that some had already started opposing the process even before a referendum question had been crafted.
“Those making noise are a few disgruntled members. They are opposing just for the sake of it because we have not even formulated the referendum question,” said Raila.
He said their detractors were only focusing on the rallies, but not talking about town hall conferences used to collect views of people, which are later presented as resolutions in the rallies.
Ruto and his allies at the weekend claimed that the ongoing BBI rallies had been hijacked by politicians and were being used to propagate ethnic messages.
“This story we’re being told about nobody can stop reggae, if the reggae is what we’re seeing — the ethnicity that is being preached in BBI rallies, the ethnic profiling of communities, hate and the campaign pitting one community against another, if that is the reggae they’re talking about, my friends, reggae will stop,” Ruto said last Sunday.
But Raila yesterday wished Ruto “all the best” in his pursuit to stop the BBI rallies.
“Ruto is just one person among 47 million Kenyans. He initially said he would support BBI then started blowing hot and cold, but has now said he will stop reggae. I wish him all the best,” said Raila.
He described the rallies as successful so far as Kenyans were able to share their feelings freely for a better and inclusive Kenya.
“You cannot control what people say in a rally. There could be some bad eggs, but so far the meetings have been successful,” said Raila.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina is already in trouble with authorities for statements deemed inciting during the Narok gathering while Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno was also seized on claims of hosting an illegal BBI gathering in protest at Ledama’s utterances.
Raila explained that he had a meeting with Ng’eno before the Narok rally and that the minority communities submitted their memorandum that was forwarded to the steering committee chaired by Senator Yusuf Haji.
“Initially, the meeting was to take place at Suswa so as to have a Suswa declaration, but it was moved to Narok. The group had even handed their memorandum before they walked out. It seems there were other undercurrents,” he explained.
Noise from Mt Kenya
He likened the noise by leaders from Mt Kenya against the BBI to that of a frog’s that cannot stop a cow from drinking water from the river. He claimed there has been a lot of propaganda about the document in the region, which he added was wearing away as discussion around it gains momentum.
“I think Mt Kenya is coming along well and I want you to watch the Meru meeting. The propaganda is wearing out. The noise there ni kama mlio ya chura. Kelele za chura haiwezi zuia ng’ombe kunywa maji (the croaking of frogs cannot stop cows from drinking water). I will go there as a friend of Mt Kenya people,” he said.
Raila talked about the connection he had with the region in 2003, when on a victory tour with then newly elected President Kibaki, he was hailed by residents as ‘njamba’ (hero) in stopovers on the way to Nyeri.
He also talked about his connection with Rift Valley, recalling how the region voted for him overwhelmingly in 2007 before, he said, the controversial Mau evictions was used by his political detractors to deny him votes in the 2013 General Election.
“When I took Kibaki to Nyeri I was received well and called ‘mtongoria njamba’. I was in Murang’a the other week and I was received well,” said Raila.
This weekend, Raila will lead the BBI brigade to drum up support for the document in Meru before the team moves to Nakuru County. He said after Nakuru the team will pitch tent in Isiolo to sell the document before moving to Nyeri, Eldoret and finally Nairobi.
“We will cover all parts of the country. The idea is to ensure inclusivity. We don’t want to ambush people with a draft document because we want everyone on board,” he said.
Raila also revisited the dynasty talk, saying no one should be stopped from running for any political seat because of their father’s previous influence in government. He said it would be unfair for anyone to campaign against Baringo Senator Gideon Moi because his father served as president.
“The fact that he was Moi’s son should not stop him from running because that would be so unfair to him. Moi retired in 2002 and that is about 18 years now.”
Gideon is expected to join Raila in Meru on Saturday.
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