Ruto, Raila lock horns over 'Hustler' narrative

The two leaders for a second day trade barbs over catchy 'hustler' label; Ruto proudly calls himself the Hustler in nation of hustlers

In Summary
  • Ruto says priority should be on the suffering hustlers who scramble get ahead.
  • Raila tells Ruto not to hide behind the hustler tag but join in developing the country,
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
RAILA VS RUTO: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto and his political nemesis Raila Odinga have locked horns over the catchy 'hustler' tag.

Ruto for years has proudly called himself the Hustler and in his presidential campaign he is appealing to a nation of suffering hustlers who struggle to get ahead.

He donates money and tools to help hustlers start a business and overcome Covid-19 hardships.

Raila told Ruto he should not hide behind the hustler label but should support the government's development agenda.

Ruto, howevever, told the former Prime Minister to shelve plans for a Building Bridges Initiative referendum and instead address the plight of suffering hustlers.

Speaking during a church service in Nairobi on Sunday, Ruto said talks on power sharing through BBI should be set aside to allow the nation to focus on the hustler nation.

The BBI - the product of the historic handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila - is expected to call for an expanded Executive with more positions. That would require a costly referendum.

Ruto welcomed remarks by the ODM leader in Bomet on Saturday that all Kenyan are hustlers, saying the country should ensure job creation and improvement of the business environment to cushion the majority of ‘hustling’ Kenyans.

“Because we have all agreed that Kenya is a hustler nation, our priority should be to ensure all hustlers have food on their table, they are given business opportunities and we create jobs to ensure they are gainfully engaged because Kenya belongs to all of us,” the Deputy President said.

Ruto said he will not be party to any discussion that seeks to create more positions and share power among the elite when the common man is still struggling.

He said any talks on expanding the Executive should only come after addressing he pressing needs of millions of Kenyans who still live on less than a dollar a day.

“Going forward, we will not allow discussions on power sharing when hustlers cannot put food on the table," the Deputy President said.

In Kisumu, Raila fired back at the DP, accusing him of hiding behind the hustler label, terming it baseless. He urged Ruto to instead focus on development and unity.

"Founding Father Jomo Kenyatta was a meter reader. The late Daniel Moi was from humble beginnings as a teacher who rose to become the second president. Mwai Kibaki was also the son of a peasant who rose to become the fourth President. Jaramogi [Oginda Odinda] was also from a peasant father and became the first vice president ," Raila said.

Raila was speaking at the ODM party office in Kisumu after meeting party officials, MPs and MCAs.

The ODM boss also dismissed claims BBI is meant to create posts for other people saying he was not interested such jobs.

"Even if it creates jobs, what is wrong with that? Those opposing BBI have a hidden agenda," he added. 

Raila said anti-BBI crusaders will never agree with anything good for the country, so they oppose a referendum to amend the Constitution for the better.

"They opposed the new Constitution, saying there were so many things wrong. We said we should implement it and review it later. Now it's 10 years later and they are still opposing [change], saying there's nothing wrong with the Constitution.

"These people will never agree with anything. We know them," Raila said.

Meeting Governor Anyang' Nyong'o , MPs and MCAs, Raila promoted BBI saying it is only meant to unite Kenyans and foster development.

He said BBI is unstoppable and any issues requiring a referendum will be decided by Kenyans.

Ruto was attending Ziwani AIC Church for the installation of Bishop Joshua Kimuyu as the bishop of Nairobi area.

He later took his hustler gospel to the Gikomba Market where he addressed hundreds of traders.

The DP also condemned the Pumwani Maternity Hospital saga in which a woman in labour was denied entry and gave birth outside the hospital gates. A good Samaritan helped and hospital staff only arrived after the birth, witnesses said.

Ruto was accompanied by MPs James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga), George Theuri (Embakasi West), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata), Geoffrey Kingangi (Mbeere South), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), Caleb Kositany (Soy), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango) and nominated MP Millicent Omanga.

(Edited by V. Graham)