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February 21, 2019

Ruto has more than the handshake to worry about

DP William RUto shares a light moment with an elderly woman atr Naduat village in Turkana county when he toured the area.Pic\Charles Kimani\DPPS
DP William RUto shares a light moment with an elderly woman atr Naduat village in Turkana county when he toured the area.Pic\Charles Kimani\DPPS
When former US President Barack Obama was reelected in 2012 — once again, against all odds — there were concerns in the Democratic Party about whether his then Vice President, Joe Biden, 70,  would try and succeed him in 2016 were Obama to serve his full second term.

After tinkering with the idea for some time, Biden decided in late 2015 not to vie, paving way for Hillary Clinton, who ultimately became the Democrats nominee.

It wasn’t the first time Biden would have vied for the top job: He tried twice in 1988 and 2008.

Would you think vice presidents in the US have an easier way to ascend to the presidency; you would be wrong because their history of seeking the top office hasn’t been easy.

As a review of the presidential fates of America's 47 vice presidents by US journalist Alvin Chang shows serving in that office is no assurance one will ascend to the presidency. In fact, it’s mostly antithetical.

Chang found there have been 17 bids for the presidency launched after a vice presidents' term. Five vice presidents tried and failed to get their party's endorsement. An additional seven got the endorsement but went on to lose the general election.

Only five vice presidents got to the White House through an election — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and, 144 years later, George HW Bush. Richard Nixon, was elected eighth years after he left office

The more common route to the White House for a vice president has been either the death or the resignation of the President. Nine vice presidents have used this route.

The past 50 years have been cruel to vice presidents' campaigns, with Bush being the only officeholder to ascend to the presidency.

The fate for Kenya’s vice presidents has been no different.

The first casualty was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who declined to become President, choosing instead to have Jomo Kenyatta carry the mantle.

Odinga would later resign and remained in the opposition for the rest of his life. Joseph Murumbi, who served between May and December 1966, succeeded him. His short stint was due to his reluctance to go along with the shenanigans of the day, leading to his resignation.

Daniel Moi succeeded Murumbi in 1967. Few believed Moi would fare any better than his successors in serving long enough to succeed Kenyatta.

When it became apparent he could, a very influential clique opposed to him mounted a campaign to change the constitution such that Moi would not automatically succeed Kenyatta for 90 days were Kenyatta to pass on. Moi out maneuvered the gang, largely benefiting from the wit and wisdom of then Attorney General Charles Njonjo, and managed to become our Second President.

Moi appointed Mwai Kibaki as VP but he unceremoniously replaced him with Dr Josphat Karanja in 1988. Karanja served for a year before resigning abruptly to avoid an ongoing vote of no-confidence in Parliament engineered by Moi.

Next, Moi picked George Saitoti after the 1988 General Election and went on to become Kenya’s longest-serving VP, serving for 13 years: Between May 1989 and January 1998, and again between April 1999 and August 2002. Despite the long service, Moi did not hide his disdain for him, publicly castigating and eventually replacing him with Musalia Mudavadi in 2002. Moi then let everybody know his chosen successor was Uhuru Kenyatta, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to why.

Uhuru and running mate Mudavadi were buried by the 2002 tsunami. Kibaki appointed Moody Awori VP. A likeable person fondly referred to as “Uncle Moody,” his constituents didn’t think much of him and gave him the boot in 2007. The 2007-08 post-election violence saw ODM-K leader Kalonzo Musyoka become VP in a boardroom deal, only to be betrayed by Kibaki at the eleventh hour in 2013.

William Ruto has been serving as the DP since 2013 and now has his eyes fully gazed at the presidency. The foregoing history counsels he should gaze elsewhere.

Perhaps farming.

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