Deputy President William Ruto is currently at sea, floating without a rudder. Prior to the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition stalwart Raila Odinga, Ruto was a man on a mission, totally focussed, with a clear roadmap to the House on the Hill.
Despite several warnings, he rode roughshod over the interests of other political leaders, often derisively referring to them as ‘mtu/watu wa vitendawili!’ Appeals to him not to burn his bridges were dismissed with contempt.
The handshake has come as a wake-up call and now Ruto is busy firefighting as well as building bridges in places he had totally ignored. The elementary school tenet ‘pride comes before a fall’ has acquired a new significance.
Ruto had it all! Even Uhuru, during the 2017 election campaign, told opposition leaders to wait and face Ruto in 2022. He was the first Deputy President ever to have cultivated what appeared to be a co-presidency.
He even on occasion got the President to dress in similar attire, which made them appear uniform. Ruto worked hard, very hard to secure Uhuru a second term. His life depended on it, as election victory would illuminate a clear path for Ruto’s presidency. Yet, as they say, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings!”
Jubilee were declared victors in the election. The opposition challenged the victory at the Supreme Court and in an unprecedented decision it was sensationally nullified. The response, to put it mildly, was unbecoming. The person and Office of the Chief Justice and Supreme Court were vilified as a bunch of thugs!
A second election was called in which the opposition declined to participate without the IEBC being radically restructured and similar electoral reforms.
Ruto once again led the Jubilee brigade in the campaign only to secure a Pyrrhic victory which the opposition refused to recognise. It is at this point that Jubilee made their first tactical mistake as they erroneously thought that election victory was all that was required to rule a country.
The NASA team (using a script previously successful in Zimbabwe) had different thoughts and declared the election a fraud and the presidency illegitimate. They pushed hard with the Resist Movement and Raila was declared and sworn in as the People’s President.
The country was divided in two along ethnic lines and the international community and religious leaders intervened, seeking a truce to avoid a conflagration reminiscent of the 2007 post-election violence.
Uhuru appears to have acquiesced somewhere along the line and was advised to keep hardliners, including his deputy, out of the loop as he negotiated with nemesis Raila. Archimedes once said, “Give me a fulcrum and I will move the world!” Raila had arrived, fulcrum and all.
Ruto reluctantly accepted the handshake but his infantrymen senators Kipchumba Murkomen, Kithure Kindiki and Majority leader Aden Duale have been circumspect. The Agreement to date remains amorphous as we wait for the appointed committee to come up with a framework.
To be honest it has taken far too long and as they say power abhors a vacuum. Raila is vividly awake to this reality and is busy filling the gaps as a reticent Uhuru remains tight-lipped.
One of the conditions of the handshake was that Raila recognises the President as validly and legally elected. This he did unconditionally. Uhuru has been validated and Raila, now an insider, appears to be busy savaging Ruto! The roping in of former Presidents Moi and Kibaki is giving the Ruto camp sleepless nights.
Ruto is not at a good place as he watches his well-scripted dream being cannibalised. The man he fought for at the risk of life and limb, like Emperor Nero, is casually playing his guitar as his well-laid plans go up in smoke. It must be painful. If the nightmare doesn’t end soon it could do irreparable damage.