TROUBLED MARRIAGE

Build bridges in Jubilee and Mt Kenya first

Sometimes in politics, tolerance of one’s rivals is wise.

In Summary
  • As some people have suggested, you don’t build bridges by destroying others.
  • If indeed the BBI’s intention is to unite all Kenyans, Ruto and company should be brought on board.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
Image: FILE

When American President Lyndon Johnson was questioned on why he tolerated FBI Chief J Edgar Hoover, he replied, “I would rather have him inside my tent pissing out rather than have him outside my tent pissing in”.

After the aftermath of a cabinet split over the economy in 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher demoted rather than sack Jim Prior and kept  Peter Walker in the cabinet despite their differences.

These examples show that sometimes in politics, tolerance of one’s rivals could be helpful. Maybe this is why President Uhuru Kenyatta embraced his long-time political rival Raila Odinga through the handshake. But the handshake led to the birth of the Building Bridges Initiative, rubbing some leaders the wrong way.

Deputy President William Ruto and his allies expressed discomfort with the handshake and BBI, dividing the Jubilee Party.

I don’t know why the BBI excluded the Deputy President but if the President could have a cordial relationship with his long-time rival and fail to reach an accord with a deputy he has worked with for almost two terms is really disturbing and the DP and his allies have a right to fell sidelined.

It is now no longer a secret that the marriage between Uhuru and Ruto is on the rocks with the likely result being what Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula would call a messy and noisy divorce.

The onslaught against leaders who support the DP has caught both friend and foe by surprise as the President stamps his authority in a bid to tame rebellious leaders in Jubilee Party, majority of whom support his deputy.

One such victim is former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri who has been rumored to be eying the deputy president’s seat in a Ruto government and has been suggested in some quarters to be the Mt Kenya kingpin after the retirement of Uhuru in 2022.

I would rather have him inside my tent pissing out rather than have him outside my tent pissing in
American President Lyndon Johnson

Kiunjuri is an astute orator and well versed in Kikuyu proverbs, which excites crowds wherever he speaks. He is no ordinary politician and many are looking for his next course of action after his axing by his friend the President. Uhuru pleaded with the people of Laikipia to let him have Kiunjuri in government instead of him contesting the Laikipia governor seat.

Ruto’s Tangatanga brigade can only be ignored at one’s own peril. We expect a lot of noise from them, especially as far as the BBI is concerned. That these leaders, including Kiunjuri, are now outside the Uhuru’s tent and have started to piss in cannot be taken lightly. Whether the President’s henchmen, the likes of Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, nominated MP Maina Kamanda and Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege will outshine the Ruto team remains to be seen.

As some people have suggested, you don’t build bridges by destroying others and I believe that if indeed the BBI’s intention is to unite all Kenyans, Ruto and company should be brought on board. This will not only ease unnecessary tension but will make everybody feel included as we endeavour to build a new Kenya.

Also worrying is the fact that Mount Kenya region the President's backyard is as for now divided as never before. As someone who would live a legacy of a united country, the president must do his best to first and foremost consolidate his region and ensure that the current acrimony is put to an end.

It is also noteworthy that while the President is facing opposition in his backyard, his partner in BBI has a fanatical following not only in his Nyanza backyard but also in areas such as the Coast and South Rift. Even secular musicians from the region who have in past heaped praises on Uhuru, his government and the Jubilee Party have already changed tune and are bashing the head of state through their songs

The President and his advisers, while stamping authority, should face the truth and quell the rebellion in Mt Kenya while avoiding casualties who have a choice of going out of his tent only to piss in.