First was handshake, then BBI and now new alliance


President Uhuru Kenyatta at State Lodge Sagana in Nyeri County during a meeting with leaders and representatives of special interest groups [Courtesy]

Sagana, tucked on the edge of the Mt Kenya Forest in Nyeri County, has become symbolic to the 2022 presidential contest.

It was a sort of launching pad for ODM leader Raila Odinga’s "hike up the mountain".

That statement became a truism yesterday when President Uhuru Kenyatta unsurprisingly endorsed Raila over his deputy William Ruto.

Uhuru hosted delegates from his political base of Mt Kenya for a meeting which was heavily touted as giving the region political direction. It was the third meeting of the sort.

For Uhuru's supporters, the meeting lived up to the billing, complete with the song Reke Tumanwo by Peter Kigia whose literal translation is "let us part ways" and which came in perfectly right after the president agreed with an attendee who shouted Raila's name when he (Uhuru) was referring to whom he will hand over office to.

But if the meeting yesterday was the crescendo, then the song itself was composed and started playing much earlier.

It was the undertone in two similar meetings held in Sagana in November 2019 and then again in September 2020.

In 2019, Uhuru attempted to have the region see things from his perspective regarding the Handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taking the country back to the violence that followed the 2007 and 2017 election and the relative calm since.

Slowly by slowly, Uhuru has been building up to the moment when he declares his stand on the election. He gave the first teaser in 2018 when he told supporters that when he ultimately declares the person he wishes to hand power to, Kenyans would be shocked.

First, it was to whip the country’s MCA’s to support the BBI initiative by promising the most sought after car grants.

He insisted that BBI was not about the General Elections but their bid to unite the country.

At the outset, it was to sway a region which was lukewarm about his and former Prime Minister Odinga's bid to amend the Constitution.

Uhuru told the meeting then that he and Raila were disparaged as dynasties and hence the BBI being trashed, yet the truth was Mt Kenya has been shortchanged in terms of resource allocation.

The BBI was an expensive affair, he conceded but he rationalised that there was value to the masses, for example by having more constituencies, there would be more funding for bursaries.

An increase in parliamentary seats, he said, was a small price to pay to ensure more resource allocation to the Mt Kenya region.

Eradication of poverty can only be done through investments done through resources to be availed through passage of BBI, he said.

For Uhuru, Sagana has also become the place of confrontation, a boxing ring of sorts and, according to his Deputy President William Ruto's allies, an echo chamber.

It was also to beat down a wave of discontent from legislators of the region who were proclaiming his deputy's gospel.

While in the past Uhuru has urged the people to accept the "pennies and shillings" that Ruto was handing out in the region "because it is your money". He asked voters not to sell their minds by accepting the handouts.

Uhuru used Kibera as an anecdote for the peace that has prevailed since the Handshake. He said it was an indication that it was possible to have peaceful elections and that people did not have to fear for their property because of an election. 

Jubilee, on its death bed then, has amputated the gangrenous parts and gained a new lease of life. The clasped hands have let go and TNA's dove is back. Tuko Pamoja has become Mbele Pamoja.

Billboards bearing Kenyatta’s face, which tease a new Jubilee communication to the public that Tuliahidi, Tumetimiza - We have kept our promise.