President Uhuru Kenyatta has turned the heat on Mount Kenya leaders and said rather than fighting among themselves, they should be in the forefront in calling attention to the government’s development record.
At the centre of the President’s concerns is the lukewarm response to the yet to be unveiled Jubilee Party, which Uhuru has stated is the vehicle he will use to seek re-election in 2017. The government has also been in the forefront of making sure dens of illicit brews that are destroying the lives of young people are shut down.
Another area of concern was the low enthusiasm exhibited in the recently-concluded mass voter registration drive in which Central Kenya had a proportionately much lower registration of new voters compared to Nyanza and Rift Valley.
At one point during his tour of Nakuru County, Uhuru asked: “My God, do you people really know what is Sh23 billion?”, in apparent reference the amount the National Government had recently passed down to counties.
The President’s growing irritation with the infighting among Central Kenya leaders has been demonstrated repeatedly. During the burial of former assistant minister George Mwichigi in Gatanga, Murang’a County, he said his reluctance to visit the region was to dispel speculation that he had taken sides in the numerous political squabbles. In this regard, he did not mince words when he described the infighting between Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and Kabete MP Ferdinard Waititu as embarrassing.
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He had shared similar views at a meeting with Central Kenya leaders at the Sagana State Lodge in March, and at the Naru Moru stopover on his way to Nanyuki to attend Devolution CS, Mwangi Kiunjuri’s homecoming party.
Of concern to the President have been murmurs from locals that the Jubilee government had not done enough for the region, and the fact that local leaders have done little to dispel this disquiet has not gone unnoticed. Instead, these leaders have made repeated claims that the President had become inaccessible, forcing them to channel issues that needed Uhuru’s attention through Deputy President William Ruto’s office.
State House has been unhappy with this petulance, which was churlishly demonstrated when some Central Kenya leaders snubbed the homecoming party of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri in Nanyuki where the President was chief guest. Apparently unhappy with the appointment of the former Laikipia East MP to the Cabinet, some leaders from Nyeri County accompanied the President from Sagana State Lodge up to Naru Moru township and then turned back.
Word on the street is that they expected someone for Nyeri County to be appointed to replace the then CS for Infrastructure Engineer, Michael Kamau, whom they consider one of their own.
Political commentator Ngunjiri Wambugu says the disconnect is because State House and some Central Kenya leaders are reading from a different script.
“Uhuru’s commitment to the Jubilee Party has wrong-footed many. Some thought it was a political gimmick. The President has shown his legacy is anchored on the Jubilee Party, but some were yet to buy into either its logic or manner of implementation,” Wambugu said.
“The President has shown the Jubilee Party is key to his legacy for Kenya. The message he is passing is that if Ruto and himself can look beyond the bloody history between Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities, others too can forge and invent a new future,” Ngunjiri said.
The disaffection with State House has not gone unnoticed in the National Assembly. Mt Kenya Parliamentary Group Chair and Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru, admitted that some leaders were embarrassing the President.
“It reflects badly on the region’s leadership when leaders outdo each other in his presence. They should resolve their differences through the council of elders,” Waweru said.
Waweru said the ruling coalition’s supporters should get behind the Jubilee Party.
“Our captain and his deputy have said we board the Jubilee Party bus. They brought us into the Jubilee Coalition and government. We should trust they know the destination they are taking us and support them,” he observed, and added that Cabinet appointments were the prerogative of the President. “Two things we should not dwell on too much is that Kiunjuri is a Kenyan, and you cannot argue with the prerogative of the President to appoint whomsoever he chooses to whatever office.”