Restless Ruto traverses the country, echoes pre-2022 election vote hunt

President William Ruto presides over the ground breaking ceremony for Nyamira County Aggregation and Industrial Park. [PCS]

The dust has settled on the campaign trail. The oath has been taken but one year down the line, the majestic lawns of State House cannot confine Kenya’s most energetic President. He is forever on the move and has been to every corner of the country.

Instead of relaxing in his carpeted temperature regulated and tastefully furnished offices at the country's most prestigious workstation, President William Ruto has chosen a different path.

When he is not meeting local leaders or chairing a Cabinet meeting at a location far away from the city of power, he is busy addressing jubilant crowds from the sunroof of his car – a move reminiscent of the August 2022 pre-election period.

And for the better part of the last two months, Ruto has sought to reengage with the people by touring various regions where he has delivered “goodies” and made bold development pledges all the while making sure to consolidate his political base.

Earlier this month, Ruto completed a five-day tour of the Mt Kenya region where he launched and relaunched several projects. Among these were the Sh15 million Githurai water supply project and the Sh500 million Githurai modern market.

He also relaunched the Sh1.1 billion Kagio water supply (January 26, 2021) and the Sh60 million Othaya water sewerage plant (2016).

The climax of his tour was by way of a meeting with over 5,000 grassroots leaders and opinion shapers from the Mt Kenya region.

Two weeks prior, Ruto had spent five days in the coastal region on a working tour commencing July 27 where he covered Lamu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, and Tana River Counties.

 His focus during the coastal was to not only counter the opposition’s influence in the region but to also inaugurate, commission, and inspect government projects.

"Emphasis on projects in the Blue Economy and Fisheries sector in Mukowe, Ngao, Ukunda and Mombasa with grants worth over Ksh552 million to be issued to common interest groups," read a statement by State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed.

It was during the coastal tour that Ruto, despite publicly disparaging the opposition and ruling out the possibility of power-sharing, quietly met with opposition leader Raila Odinga in the presence of former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo.

The President himself would later admit that he held talks with Raila during which they agreed that the opposition would end weekly protests. He said he did so in line with his duty to ensure there was peace and harmony.

“We have agreed because you know I am the head of state I am obligated to make sure that every Kenyan whether they support my policies or not their property is guaranteed, that there is peace in the country and I have given a commitment that going forward there will be no violence in Kenya,” he said.

President Ruto had jetted into Mombasa from Tanzania where he had been on an uncharacteristic short visit during which he met his counterpart, President Samia Suluhu. The visit was made shortly after Raila disclosed that the Tanzanian president had been on a reconciliatory mission in Kenya.

Earlier this week, Ruto conducted whistle stop tour of Kisii and Nyamira where he sought to sway residents to back his administration and simultaneously strengthen his grassroots support.

During the visit, the president launched several projects and vowed to build seven new markets in Nyamira. He said the new markets will be built in Keroka, Ikonge, Nyamira town and Kemera.

Additionally, he said, seven other modern markets equipped with storage facilities will be built in Kisii County. He also inspected the Sh3.4 billion roads in Bomachoge Chache, Borabu, North Mugirango and West Mugirango.

 Ruto, who has since managed to tighten his grip on the region through a multi-pronged approach of development and tokenism when it comes to state appointments, said he will work with all leaders irrespective of their party affiliations.

Ruto allies leading the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) charge in Gusiiland include former Kisii Governor James Ongwae - a former ardent supporter of Raila - and former Woman Rep Janet Ongera.

And to cap what has been an eventful two months, Ruto is currently on a five-day tour of western region where he will visit Bungoma, Kakamega, Busia, and Vihiga counties. His visit comes against the backdrop of disquiet in the region; a section of leaders have tasked Ruto to account for his pre-election pact where they were to get 30 percent of his administration and tarmac 1,000 kilometers of roads.

Ruto's modus operandi relives the days of President Daniel Moi, who in his 24-year reign toured every crook and cranny of the country and maintained close contacts with people from all walks of life at grassroots unlike his successors, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, who mostly operated from the capital.