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Show us what you've done, Raila tells Ruto

POLITICS
By Michael Chepkwony | January 17th 2021
ODM leader Raila Odinga dancing to reggae music at Ufungamano House where he met with Jubilee and ODM women leaders from Nairobi County. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has challenged Deputy President William Ruto to demonstrate his track record while serving in government.

Raila slammed Ruto, saying he made many promises to Kenyans in the 2013 and 2017 election campaigns, yet many of those pledges have not been implemented.

The opposition leader, who has held a flurry of meetings to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in the past week, was speaking at Ufungamano House in Nairobi yesterday where he addressed women leaders from the city.

The women were drawn from Jubilee and ODM parties and included a section of MCAs and champions of BBI.

The meeting was one of several the ODM leader has held in recent days, upping the tempo in popularising the initiative birthed of the Handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018.

“They say Raila is analogue. They said children will have laptops. He has forgotten that and now he is giving out handcarts and wheelbarrows. Where are the jobs, state-of-the art stadia?” Raila asked in an apparent address to Ruto.

Raila, in an apparent change of tack to popularise BBI, has had a busy week, starting Monday when he hosted a team of young people at his Karen home under the banner of 'Team One Nation', led by former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga.

The following day, the ODM leader met artists from across the country and rallied them to use their talent to promote the proposed constitutional changes.

On Wednesday, he was at it again, this time meeting youth from Nairobi at Ufungamano. He would later make an impromptu visit to Burma market, where he also rooted for the document.

The following day, Raila met Kikuyu Council of Elders and Githurai traders in Ruaraka, where he said he was ready to tour Mt Kenya region to popularise the BBI and in preparations for the 2022 General Election.

He urged the traders to back the proposed constitutional changes, citing proposals aimed at supporting small businesses.

The ODM leader's heightened political engagements come against the backdrop of claims by Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata that the BBI was becoming a hard sell in Mt Kenya region.

Those opposed to the BBI have framed the proposed changes as targeted at benefiting the political class and with little benefit to the mwananchi.

Ruto has been leading a campaign, which he says is aimed at boosting small-scale traders through provision of wheelbarrows and handcarts. The approach has attracted a large following and the euphoria has been heightened by the unveiling of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party whose symbol is a wheelbarrow.

Deputy President William Ruto and former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto. [DPPS]

Although Ruto has not publicly declared that he was behind the new outfit, signs indicate he has a hand in the creation of the party whose headquarters in Nairobi is named ‘Hustler Centre’. The party is chaired by former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, an ally of Ruto.

Yesterday, Raila took a swipe at Ruto and asked Kenyans to wake up and ask the DP what he has done for the country while serving in government.

Although the meeting was aimed at strategising on how to popularise the BBI in Nairobi, the remarks made by many speakers were targeted at Ruto, perceived to be against the initiative. The DP has not openly opposed the initiative but had proposed that the referendum should have multiple questions.

Raila said rather than supporting the government to deliver services, Ruto had taken a strange approach of conducting fundraisers targeting groups and organisations, including churches, youth and women.

He described the DP using the metaphor of a bat, saying he was tricking Kenyans by seeking to identify with the poor and the rich. A tale has it that a bat tricked birds that it was one of them because of its flying ability, and also deceived other animals that he was part of them because of its teeth.

“He goes to the poor and identifies himself as hustler. He also says he is a farmer. Sometimes he says he has big businesses. He is a bat,” said Raila.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed accused Ruto of abandoning his duties and playing double standards of being in the government and the opposition at the same time.

“Deputy president is operating from the streets. Before I impeach him, let him resign. He has relocated his office to the streets,” said Junet.

Former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru asked Ruto to either “shape up or ship out” before Jubilee Party kicks him out. He accused the DP of sabotaging President Kenyatta’s work and disrespecting him.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said it was time for leaders from other communities to provide executive leadership even as he dismissed Ruto’s 2022 candidacy.

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