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Ruto, Raila clash over ‘hustler’ tag and BBI politics

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana addresses faithful during a service attended by Deputy President William Ruto at AIC Ziwani Church, Nairobi, yesterday. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto faced off over “dynasty” politics.

Speaking in Kisumu yesterday, Raila said the dynasty tag was meant to incite people against a section of the national leadership.

“This kind of talk is aimed at inciting Kenyans against one group and does not augur well in the eyes of the Building Bridges Initiative, which is seeking to reunite all Kenyans divided along ethnic and party affiliations,” he said.  

Raila said the dynasty tag was meant to hoodwink Kenyans to take political sides.

But speaking in Gikomba, Nairobi, after attending a church service, Ruto asked the ODM leader to drop the push for constitutional amendment aimed at creating more positions in government, if indeed he was interested in promoting “hustlers” welfare.

Declare the plans

The DP said the focus ought to be creation of jobs and business opportunities for thousands of unemployed Kenyans struggling to eke a living, instead of positions at the top for the benefit of a few. 

“Now that they have agreed Kenya is a hustler nation, we want to tell them to give priority to job creation and business opportunities to the hustlers so that they can also take their children to school and afford decent housing,” said Ruto.

Ruto’s remarks are yet another indication that he is poised to oppose the BBI referendum drive.

Raila’s side has always denied creation of more positions in the Executive, instead vouching for the broad principles of inclusion, equity and electoral justice.

“They should know that before we talk about how to create positions and share power, we have to discuss the issues affecting mwananchi. The issue of who takes what position should come later,” Ruto said.

Ruto, who is seeking to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, has projected himself as a “hustler” as he seeks to identify with the jobless population as well as those doing menial jobs in a bid to win support.

His choice of venue - Gikomba - was significant in this respect.

“I want to tell them that all of us are Kenyans and even those who push carts deserve respect for the job that they do. There is no Kenya for the well-connected and another for the hustlers,” he said.

On Saturday, Raila hit out at the DP over the hustler narrative and challenged him to declare the plans he has for the country should he be elected president.

He dismissed the hustler narrative while meeting ODM delegates and drummed support for BBI.

The ODM leader was flanked by MPs Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), James Nyikal (Seme), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Assembly Speaker Elisha Oraro and a host of party leaders.

Forget the past

“We agreed to coalesce to fast track development and later politics. My meetings with the president are about the economic transformation of Kenya, which supersedes any other agenda,” he explained.

Raila said it was time for leaders to forget the past, reconcile and work towards building the nation.

“For us and the president this is our aim; how to make sure that we have laws that promote equality and uphold national unity,” he said.

He disclosed that not all proposals will go to the referendum, as some of the issues can be implemented through Parliament or policy directives.

“We know that there are some amendments that will require the people to have a say. That we shall take to the referendum. But others will be sorted out by experts and then taken to Parliament,” he said.

Raila said his relationship with the president was for the good of the country and wondered why some people were jealous.

“But I want to assure Kenyans that the BBI wave will lead this country on the path to economic resilience and fix the ravages caused by coronavirus. BBI will catapult Kenyans to the Biblical land of milk and honey-Canaan,” Raila said.

Ruto was speaking after witnessing the installation of African Inland Church Nairobi area bishop Rev Joshua Kimuyu. Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana was in attendance.

Kibwana is among politicians who have declared interest to succeed President Kenyatta.

Addressing the faithful, the governor called for peace in the run-up to the next elections and told the church to speak the truth when the political class goes astray.

He also used the platform to rally support for his political ambitions saying, “Maybe between me and you, one of us will be the next president because I will be a worthy competitor in the race.”

Kibwana said he was ready to work with any politician who champions peace for the country.

“People are told don’t move close to Ruto. But I want to say that I will work with every politician who wants peace for Kenya,” he said.

Ruto was accompanied by MPs Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Caleb Kositany (Soy), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Millicent Omanga (Nairobi), Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Nickson Korir (Langata), James Kaguya (Embakasi North) and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South).