Why Ruto will likely hand over power to a political greenhorn

President William Ruto addressing the media after meeting with Vice Chancellors over University funding at State House, Nairobi on May3, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

By the look of things, there is no Kenyan ready to receive instruments of power from William Ruto after his two terms. Thus, President Ruto will most likely hand over power to a political greenhorn. Typically, a presidential candidate should be visible 10 years before their moment of victory.

By today, the would be sixth president should be able to challenge Ruto in an election. However, we are yet to find a candidate who can challenge him on the ballot because to win in a presidential poll cannot be a surprise abracadabra!

For instance, in 2010, Ruto was mature enough to be a presidential contestant. Then, he could have challenged Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. If he had done that, he could have beaten Uhuru as number two, and Raila could have won.

He tested his political strength when he led a NO campaign against the 2010 draft constitution. The then Higher Education minister, Ruto almost singlehandedly convinced 2.8 million voters to vote against the Mwai Kibaki and Raila-led coalition government's choice. Technically, Ruto won the by-election, and from then, he braced for the presidency that he would win twelve years later-in 2022. Ten years before the elections, on December 29, 1992, Kibaki contested elections and emerged in position three with 19.5 per cent of the vote. He was only beaten by Daniel Moi and Kenneth Matiba, who garnered 36.3 and 26.0 per cent, respectively. Five years later, in 1997, Kibaki emerged second after Moi.

A decade before becoming the president in 1978, Moi was already second in command. He was Jomo Kenyatta's vice president of 11 years. By the time the first president died in 1978, Moi was politically mature to be president. It should be noted that Uhuru was an outlier regarding political experience. Although he served as Finance minister and later deputy prime minister in the coalition government, his positional experience was wanting. He was only lucky to have the 'power to become', courtesy of his father and support from Ruto, who had a massive following from Rift Valley.

It is challenging in a growing democracy for a candidate to come out of the woods and be elected president-history proves this hypothesis right. So, do we have anyone who can dare come close to the State House, minus Ruto? None!

Kalonzo Musyoka is already done and is resting on the chest of an already retiring Raila. What about Musalia Mudavadi? Although he is technically the third most potent politician under Ruto's regime, his chances are dim. What about Rigathi Gachagua? He can only become president in the order of Tanzania's Samia Suluhu or Moi.

That done and dusted, we are left foraging among young politicians such as Ndindi Nyoro and Johnson Sakaja. The other young Turks who constituted the super senators of Uhuru's second term, like Mutula Kilonzo Junior and Kipchumba Murkomen, have some chances too, but need to be more politically 'cooked'.

However, Alfred Mutua, the CS of Foreign Affairs can be dusted for some check. In that case, he is presidential material-but without a kingmaker, he fizzles chap chap. Others like AG Justine Muturi, Speaker Moses Wetang'ula and Speaker of the Senate Amason Kingi can also make some head starts with a million-dollar under structuring. What about women? I say, we do not yet have a strong readying woman candidate. However, a revolution moment is possible if a woman comes out and the country decides to end an era of male domination.

Considering all this, Ruto will have to leave the presidency to a political greenhorn, and women could have the highest likelihood. But we have yet to have a conspicuous candidate to receive the instruments of power come 2032.

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