'Villager movement' rattles UDA as Gachagua faces backlash


Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua arrives in Nakuru for the annual Akurino faithful Prayer Conference at Nakuru Boys' High School. [DPCS]

Despite criticism of pushing an ethnic card through one man one vote-one-shilling revenue formula, the Deputy President has remained steadfast in solidifying his Mt Kenya backyard.

The second in command who has been working to lock Mt Kenya support recently started a charm offensive in other parts of the country. 

Pundits argue that Gachagua's strategy seeks to put Mt Kenya region under his tight grip for political ambition which they claim is not being interpreted well within the larger UDA family.

This has seen UDA leaders openly criticise the DP with National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa accusing him of trying to get attention from the village to build a kingdom. This has seen Gachagua form a political movement dubbed ‘I’m a Villager movement.’

“There is a famous saying that says you can’t build a kingdom with someone who still wants the attention of the village. We will not build our nation if we still want attention from our villages. Let us build that nation where we need and seek the attention of Kenya, not the attention of your villagers,” Ichungwa said. 

But Gachagua and his allies told off the Majority Leader saying that every Kenyan comes from a village and anybody who departs from that thinking is a slave. 

T-shirts and caps have been branded in favour of Gachagua’s team spotting inscriptions “I m a villager" while those who support Ichungwa have branded merchandise inscribed "My village is Kenya." with the two teams putting up a spirited defense for their slogans leading to a major ideological clash on social media platforms.

Anti-Gachagua crusaders pushing for "My village is Kenya" narrative have gone a notch higher, cashing in on Sh20,000 to advance the narrative in their social media pages while Gachagua’s team have taken their campaign to the grassroots.

“You left your village and interacted with other Kenyans to build your dreams and reach your ambition. Share your story on your page. The best stories which will be decided using a combination of different parameters will share a jackpot of Sh20 000…” President William Ruto’s Digital Strategist Dennis Itumbi posted on Facebook.

Gachagua’s camp has criticised Ichungwa's political ideology maintaining that the Kenya Kwanza administration was elected on the bottom up economic platform which forms the basis of the village to towns narrative.

“We can’t call for unity without starting from the bottom, even Jesus Christ started from his Nazareth home turf before spreading the word to the rest of the country, everybody has his own place of origin and we can’t start speaking about unity from the top. Let us not forget about the bottom up mantra,” Maragua MP Mary Waithira said.

Waithira wondered why some government officials and politicians were apprehensive over the Mt Kenya unity drive while it was not the case in other regions.

“There were some leaders who were opposed to the Kenya Kwanza coalition from other regions but are now at the heart of government, a case in point is in Rift Valley where former Cherengny MP Joshua Kutuny is now at the heart of government, but when Gachagua wants to unite us, that is where the line is drawn,” she said.

Gachagua following in President William Ruto's footsteps when he was accused of hovering around the country to seek cheap political mileage (tanga tanga) has also taken ‘villager accusations’ in stride by fitting in the narrative.

“The community is the backbone of leadership; without their support, no kingdom can endure because a kingdom’s success is built on the support of its villagers no leader can succeed alone,” the DP said.

This comes even as leaders including Ichungwa, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and his Interior counterpart Kithure Kindiki intensify attacks against Gachagua.

On Thursday, Mudavadi while presiding over a thanksgiving ceremony at Chepterwai Girls High School in Nandi, claimed that the DP was embarrassing the President with his alleged tribal remarks.

“How can it be that when the President is bringing honor to our country from abroad, you are dragging him from behind, he wants to bring peace to war torn countries, while you want to put egg on his face so that his reconciliatory efforts will be frustrated as those being reconciled will wonder how he could lead in peace talks while there is tribalism in his countries. That can’t be,” he said.

“As national leaders we must unite with the President in calling for freedom of movement and uniting with other communities from across the country,” he added.

Ichungwa who spoke during the function said: “If we speak about respect, asking children to respect their elders even us as the leaders and elders must show respect not just to them but also to each other as leaders. That is why I take great exception because there are leaders who have taken it upon themselves to discredit other leaders on account of their age, on account of where they come from we must tell each other that respect is earned, it is never demanded, it is never through coercion, through intimidation or insulting other leaders. I have heard some of our leaders calling other leaders turncoats. No elected leader is a turncoat. if you want to be respected and to lead others, you must also respect them.”

Kindiki warned leaders against one-man one-vote one-shilling debate. 

“As a purported principle of resource allocation, the framers of the Constitution of Kenya rejected it for its potential to fuel sectional interests to the detriment of the nation as an indivisible whole," he said. 

"Instead, a win-win framework was upheld in article 203 of the Constitution by which the principles of equality, equity and affirmative action are balanced to forge a resource allocation outcome that advances national unity, cohesion and a sense of belonging to everyone who calls Kenya their homeland," the CS added. 

However, while speaking during the youth and women empowerment programme in Samburu on Friday, Gachagua clarified that his push for equity in resource allocation was not meant to deny other regions their rightful share of allocation.

“We are not pushing to have some areas denied their revenue allocation. Sometimes people do not listen, what we are asking for is equity," he said.

Speaking at the Annual Akorino Conference in Nakuru on Sunday, Gachagua maintained that he will not relent in his push for Mt Kenya unity.

"Unity is built from the grassroot level starting from the family and extending to the village, sub-county, county to the national levels it originates from the bottom and that is what I'm doing currently," he said.