Deputy President William Ruto yesterday declared war on those plotting to stop his State House march in 2022.
Speaking in his Sugoi home but without naming names, the DP vowed to fight off all attempts to stop him from succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He said in Jubilee opponents will find serious political contenders and it would not be a walk in the park for those who are not well prepared.
Kenyatta’s term will end in three years and eight months. His ally and Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe has told Ruto to retire with his boss since he too would have served 10 years under the same ticket. He has also said Jubilee has no presidential candidate and that Rift Valley should forward another candidate instead of Ruto.
Yesterday Ruto did not make any direct reference to Murathe but his remarks seemed to suggest he was responding to him.
“There are people trying to fight me or push me out of Jubilee. I can tell them that I am ready for them,” he said.
The DP said any politician eyeing the top seat in 2022 would have to fight for it. He warned that no amount of endorsement would elevate the prospects of any candidates with no development track record.
“There are those hanging around, waiting for endorsements. How do you expect to be endorsed if you have no agenda or programme for the country?” posed Ruto.
He said candidates should seek leadership through political parties with a national outlook.
“I am ready to battle with anybody. Let my competitors put on the table what they have done for this country,” he said.
Ruto spoke during a meeting of delegations from Bungoma and Busia counties at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu.
Leaders in attendance were the Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka, Busia governor Sospeter Ojaamong, Bungoma woman representative Catherine Wambilianga, MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Dan Wanyama (Webuye West).
Other MPs were James Lusweti (Kabuchai), John Waluke (Sirisia), Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula), Geoffrey Omuse (Teso South), Oku Kaunya (Teso North) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret).
The Deputy President invited anyone who wanted to vie against him, saying he was not scared of competition.
He said he would not support the proposed change of the Constitution if it would burden taxpayers.
“Anything that seeks to impede the fruits of devolution would also be opposed. We would want to see reforms that would make counties thrive,” he said.
Ojaamong said despite the challenges facing devolution, the coming of counties has had a huge impact on the distribution of resources across the country.
He pledged to work with Ruto to realise more development.
“We are past party politics. We would want to see working relationships forged among leaders,” the Busia governor said.
Ruto has set his eyes on winning over the populous Luhya vote in the hope that they and the Kalenjin can help propel him to State House.
Apart from hosting delegations from the region, in December alone the DP made more than five visits to Western. The latest was on Monday when he attended a bull fighting function in Ikolomani.
Western is made up of five counties and has 1.8 million registered voters, according to the IEBC records: Vihiga ( 267,481 ), Kakamega ( 746,870 ), Busia ( 347,911 ) and Bungoma ( 559,897 ).
In the last election, Jubilee won four parliamentary seats (Mumias East, Navakholo, Malava and Ikolomani) while in Bungoma, the ruling party captured Kimilili, Webuye West, Mt Elgon and Sirisia, denting ODM’s hold of the region.
Ruto is now hoping to build on Jubilee’s as he prepares for 2022.
In the second half of last year, not a month passed without him conducting a harambee in Western, launching a development project or in some cases repeating the launch of a road already launched by Kenyatta.
On Monday at Malinya stadium in Kakamega Ruto met Knut representatives from Kakamega South. He later met 500 pastors at Lurambi MP Titus Khamala’s home. He wound up his visit watching a football match in Matungu.
The DP is using politicians, clergymen and teachers to push his way into Western Kenya.
After the handshake between Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in March last year, Ruto has stepped up his efforts to win over Western Kenya leaders.
His key allies and point men in the region now include Lusaka, former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, his Sirisia counterpart John Waluke and Sports CS Rashid Echesa. Others are Mumias East MP Ben Washiali, Navakholo’s Emmanuel Wangwe, Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Moses Malulu (Malava) and Dan Wanyama (Webuye West).
Bungoma woman representative Catherine Wambilianga , MPs Moses Mabonga (Bumula) and Omboko Milemba of Emuhaya are in his camp.
Wambilianga told the Star the region is keen on backing leaders who focus on development.
“We are no longer interested in party based politics. We will support the Deputy President who has shown the energy to change our country,” she said yesterday.
Washiali said Western region was shifting from the politics of handouts and empty promises to one that is focused on the betterment of the lives of people.
“This development that we aspire to have will come from the partnerships and working engagements from leaders with people’s interest at heart,” he said.
Mabonga said they were united in supporting Ruto as President Kenyatta’s successor in 2022, noting that the region’s development plan had been stained by its historical ties with Opposition politics.
“We do not want to remain behind in terms of development again. We are going to have friends who will change the lives of the people,” he added.
Milemba said he would continue working closely with the government for the benefit of his people.
“My people have given me a go-ahead to work with Ruto in addressing the challenges facing them. My short time with the Deputy President has yielded fruits in terms of development projects for my people,” Milemba said.
The inroads being made by the DP however are running into headwinds with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula are ganging up against him.
Political commentator Isaac Wanjekeche said Ruto’s point men in the region lack capacity to entrench him.
“The sooner he changes the approach the better for him because the electorate see those he is using as brokers out to benefit themselves. He should use the structured leadership which has been proposed to him not once or twice,” he said.
“For as long as he continues to sidestep Mudavadi, Wetang'ula and Wamalwa, he will continue getting it wrong by use of kangaroo methods,” he said.
Political analyst Martin Oloo said the DP’s approach will not achieve desired results because he is working his way from top to bottom.
“He is walking around with MPs and MCAs and not the people. The style of giving people money to proclaim support for you is outdated,” he said.
Oloo said the DP’s camp is suffering because of the characters it is attracting. Most of the followers do not seem to understand what the people in the region want and are trying to lord the DP over them.
However Lusaka, Barasa and Waluke differed with Oloo saying Ruto is the man of the moment in the region and will get votes in 2022.