Deputy President William Ruto made an uncharacteristic climb down by publicly apologising to his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta for letting him down and failing to live up to his expectations.
Dr Ruto, who has in the recent past heaped blame on the Head of State for re-allocating his responsibilities hence rendering his office ‘impotent’, owned up to his failings.
Speaking during the 19th edition of the National Prayer Breakfast meeting dubbed ‘transitions’ at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi yesterday, the DP took the opportunity to ‘repent’ for his shortcomings as the second-in-command.
While acknowledging the honour that he had of serving as the country’s first deputy president under the 2010 Constitution, Dr Ruto admitted there were hiccups in his administration with Uhuru.
“I have had the privilege and honour of serving as deputy president to my friend President Uhuru Kenyatta and it’s an honour that I cherish,” he said.
“I know we have done our best. We might not have done as much as you had expected of us; we have failed you in some areas. We have not been as united as we should have been. Specifically for myself, I ask for your forgiveness,” he added.
The prayer meeting was presided over by religious leaders drawn from different denominations.
The DP also acknowledged falling short of expectations while serving as Uhuru’s second-in-command. “I may have fallen short of the expectations of my boss and I ask for your forgiveness,” he said.
Ruto extended his plea for forgiveness to other Kenyans. “I also know that in this journey, many people have hurt me but in this prayer breakfast, I forgive everybody. I want us to go into this election free of the debt of hurt and free of the debt of forgiveness.”
The DP continued: “It is my prayer that you will enjoy the legacy that you have built and enjoy every piece of the time God will give you.”
Ruto’s remarks caught the attention of President Kenyatta who could not help clapping as he burst into laughter.
The two leaders have engaged in public spats that have exposed deep divisions in the Jubilee administration.
They fell out following the March 9, 2018, handshake between the Head of State and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Since then, the president and his deputy have engaged in blame games over failed projects.
Dr Ruto has accused President Kenyatta of taking away his roles and handing them over to his juniors. He told Uhuru to blame individuals that he had given his responsibilities for shortcomings of the Jubilee administration.
The President has accused the DP of absconding duty and engaging in early campaigns.
Dr Ruto also broke protocol yesterday when he invited Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua to speak on behalf of Raila, who was absent.
In her speech, the Azimio presidential running mate called for tolerance as political temperatures rise. “Prayers without action are not real. How I pray that our prayers are matched by our actions. If we do that, we’ll have peaceful elections, a peaceful transition and a nation that stands together. God bless Kenya and thank you William for inviting me,” Ms Karua said.
This was the last National Prayer Breakfast under the Jubilee administration, and the division between Uhuru and Ruto was evident.
The President, who previously shared a table with his deputy, their spouses and the two Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate, yesterday sat at a different table.
Uhuru shared a table with Chief Justice Martha Koome and Attorney General Paul Kihara while the DP sat next to the two Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ken Lusaka (Senate) who are his political allies in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Margaret Kenyatta and Rachel Ruto were not present.
Church leaders present stressed the need for forgiveness, taking turns to intercede on behalf of the nation for peace in the August elections.
Bishop David Oginde of the Evangelical Association of Kenya warned that Kenya is in a critical moment and urged leaders to ensure there is peace before and after the elections.
“Elections do not have to entail violence and anxiety. We can vote and receive result in peace. But for this to happen we must be ready to shift our mindsets. We must temper our expectations with sober reality that in any contest there will be winners and losers,” he said.
Uhuru assured all presidential hopefuls of a peaceful transition. He promised to hand over power to the team that would emerge victorious, saying he was not willing to break the succession spirit.
“Even as we engage in the upcoming contest, we know nation building is passed from generation to generation, and pass baton unbroken and I expect to do just that,” he said.
Other religious leaders who called for unity included head of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Smt. Sujata Kotamraju (Hindu Council of Kenya), Dr Sheikh Abdullahi Bundid (Association of Muslim University Chaplains) and Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Archdiocese of Nyeri.
Mr Muturi and Dr Lusaka, who are patrons of the event, acknowledged the President for giving them the opportunity to serve in Parliament.
“As I draw the curtains of my tenure as Speaker, allow me to say that you have all been of great encouragement to me and I thank the Lord for you,” said Mr Muturi.
Dr Lusaka said, “If I have offended you, I also want to ask for forgiveness. I also take this opportunity to thank the President for giving me the opportunity to serve as Speaker of the Senate.”