Good 'men': Gachagua follows Ruto's footsteps in donations to schools, churches

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua donated foodstuff and building materials to victims of the recent mudslide in Kipipiri sub-county, Nyandarua County on Saturday, May 6, 2023. [James Munyeki, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua seems to be following in the footsteps of President William Ruto who while serving as the second in command won staunch defenders and foot soldiers in the grassroots who could take a bullet for him.

When things fell apart between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Ruto embarked on a charm offensive to form a political army of defenders who joined him at church funds drive on Sundays where he gave generous contributions that turned him into a darling of the faithful.

Ruto could traverse several parts of the country donating millions of shillings in churches and school fundraisers which cemented his relationship with the voters. Gachagua is seemingly embracing this strategy. Just like Ruto, the DP is preaching the unity gospel in Mt Kenya.

Last week, the second in command spent two days in Embu and Laikipia counties leaving behind millions of shillings in funds drive for schools and churches.

Gachagua donated Sh27 million which he said would be used to revamp schools and churches and promised various development projects.

In Munyaka Secondary School, the Deputy President pledged Sh10 million for the completion of a dining hall but gave out Sh5 million assuring the school management that he will remove the balance once roofing is done.

Ngombit Secondary School got Sh5 million for renovation and Gachagua directed Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri to identify the schools that would benefit from Sh6 million for development. The DP gave Sh5 million to St Mary’s Mwenje Secondary School and Sh3 million to a church in Ngarua with S1h million being President Ruto’s donation.

Just like in Ruto’s case, the political class accompanied Gachagua to also take credit for bringing the second in command to their constituencies while vowing to protect him from political aggression that may arise as a result of the camaraderie between the President and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Gachagua has visited Murang'a, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga counties where he has made generous donations.

Some of the lieutenants who have publicly registered their political allegiance to the DP and vowed to take a bullet for him include MPs Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu) Geoffrey Ruuku (Mbeere North) Eric Wa Mumbi (Mathira) Bettie Maina (Muranga) Ann Wa Muratha (Kiambu) among Senators such as John Methu (Nyandarua) Wahome Wamatinga (Nyeri) Karungo Wa Thangwa (Kiambu) John Kinyua (Laikipia) among others.

Governors Cecily Mbarire (Embu) Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) Joshua Irungu (Laikipia) have also come out to strongly support Gachagua promising to compliment his efforts of uniting the mountain.

In Laikipia, Senator Methu showered Gachagua with praises explaining how he has opened doors to the elected leaders and announced that the leaders would reciprocate by supporting his unity mission.

“You have been listening to the leaders’ issues and you have never ignored us. We shall in return support your unity bid as that is the way our region will stand strong,” he said.

In Embu, the elected leaders cautioned the President on his new found deal with Raila saying they would not allow the ‘handshake’ to be used to disrespect Gachagua as the second in command and the Mt Kenya kingpin.

“Any leader in the whole country, regardless of his position and status, who may engineer a narrative to disrespect Gachagua because of the government’s efforts to assist Raila acquire the AU position we shall deal with him,” Ruuku said.

Mbarire who is also the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairperson, hailed the DP for pushing for the appointment of Embu sons and daughters to government saying they would reciprocate by supporting and defending him to the end.

“We shall rally and coalesce around Gachagua. He pushed for the appointment of Attorney General Justin Muturi, the appointment of Consolidate Bank’s chairperson Muriuki Njagagua, among others like former Mbeere South MP Geoffrey Kingangi for the position of National Security Advisor - Executive Office of the President and Genesio Mugo, as the Chairperson of the Kenya Dairy Board. He supported us and he means well for us and we shall support him,” the governor said.

And despite the sudden public display of submissiveness to Gachagua and apprehension of Raila Ruto-deal by the political class, the DP is keeping his cards close to his chest and letting his lieutenants vent, a strategy too that was used by Ruto after the Uhuru–Raila handshake.

Political analyst Charles Njoroge observed that Gachagua's strategy may be lethal as he could be planning and organising himself politically while appearing subtle.

“In public Gachagua tells people that he may not be too educated but his mobilisation saying otherwise and could be adhering to the Sun Tzu quote on being extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate. If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever,” Njoroge observed.