Why William Ruto should be wary of hustlers

President William Ruto during the Mashujaa Day 2022 celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi. October 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

In Francis Imbuga's play Aminata, there is a character called Agege. He was a master of odd jobs, known for his famous "change is as good as rest" utterance. He would declare that "my mouth is for truth" to those who doubted his judgment. Therefore, my mouth is for the truth that Kenyans have been patient with William Ruto's government because the hustler's regime came as a relief to a country that was hankering for some change. Yes, some change!

One thing has stood out about Kenyans. They can now endure higher fuel prices while we all know how noisy they were over high fuel prices before the general election. It means hopeful people are ready to sacrifice for the nation-provided they can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

When Dr Ruto was declared president-elect after the August General Election, I was hosted by Spice FM's Situation Room. The invitation came following an article that I penned in 2021 in which I predicted that whoever Uhuru would endorse would lose the election. It happened! The article formed my hypothesis at the radio station. I explained that power and influence are binary oppositions. Once a person or a group of persons comes into power through an election, they must let influence go! It is like the cake-you can't eat your cake and have it.

Influence endears new leaders to the electorate. However, once power replaces it, the leader has all instruments for oppressing or ignoring the people. They later start looking elsewhere for salvation, thus losing taste in their erstwhile choice. Ruto must be alive to this political doctrine.

Considering how Kenyans respond to President Ruto's hustler government, it is true that change is the opium for the people. However, such quietude is highly perishable among the polity. I have stated here that in politics, this is a typical trajectory of things-it's a Machiavellian political reality; "men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules, wherein they are deceived because they afterwards find, by experience they have gone from bad to worse."

We must agree that it is not possible to please every person, and therefore, some are born to be insatiable. Thus, the president must move swiftly to remove the thorns in hustlers' flesh before they let go of their patience. Otherwise, they will abandon him and his government.

Once they become detached, they will be quickly mobilised for demonstration and picketing against the government-a nuisance that can disturb the government's peace. That way, hustlers will seek to raise another kingpin. If such a chance arises, the opposition will start campaigns early next year.

Although this is a necessary reality, it is deadly if it haunts a new regime early. Like the inevitable death, no one should welcome such a tragedy until they have accomplished their dreams in politics. But, if it comes early, it will determine the strength of Ruto's second term, which is less than 1,700 days away.

Moreover, if the people abandon a leader, they are left with power. Power is a very deceptive tool in governance-it is transient. A leader whose influence goes away early and uses power to force influence ends tragically. Therefore, given that the vetting of his Cabinet nominees is almost over, he has a few weeks. I say in a fortnight, Kenyans might start shifting their allegiance to the opposition.

Let us conclude this way; Kenyans are hopeful that President Ruto will wake up one day and speak an end to their situation. But, unfortunately, it is usually a false expectation because the president expects them to fund his government.

The best way to tame the frustrations that might disperse Kenyans to the opposition side is to handle government communication with them strategically. Otherwise, they have been patient. They will be patient, but not for so long.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer in School of Music and Media at Kabarak University