BBI REPORT LAUNCH

Ruto has been outwitted by Uhuru, Raila but is not out yet

The question now is what he does next and the answer to that obviously depends on what Uhuru and Raila do

In Summary

• DP Ruto has been waging a silent campaign to undermine President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

•  Just before the report was made public, Ruto swang blows to kill it and practically render Uhuru and Raila irrelevant as to his 2022 presidential bid.

President Uhuru Kenyatta flanked by Deputy President William Ruto and Rt. Raila Odinga press a button to officially Launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi County.
President Uhuru Kenyatta flanked by Deputy President William Ruto and Rt. Raila Odinga press a button to officially Launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi County.
Image: PSCU

The much anticipated BBI report is out and if it’s public launch at Bomas is anything to go by, there’s one person biting their nails wondering what the heck happened here. That person is Deputy President William Ruto.

Ruto has been waging a silent campaign to undermine President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga , while at the same time planting seeds of discord against the BBI and its architects.

Just before the report was made public, Ruto swang blows to kill it and practically render Uhuru and Raila irrelevant as to his 2022 presidential bid.

 

The DP cleverly did this without saying much about the work on the report other than occasionally saying he’ll wait for direction from his boss.

Reality was a different story.

Ruto’s soldiers effectively poisoned the minds of many against BBI, using various tactics, including characterising the handshake report  as nothing but the perpetuation of the “dynasties, which must fall.”

Note the double-barreled messaging here: Uhuru and Raila are the “dynasties” and Ruto is the humble peasant leader who must save the masses from these gluttonous dynasties determined to remain in power or to get in “through the backdoor”—a reference to Raila.

With this message and others similar doing the rounds in social media and on the ground, Ruto was, indeed, walking around with a swagger waiting for the right moment to strike — the day on which the report would be launched. He would then ride on his high white horse to announce he cannot but part company with his boss in opposition to this “backdoor means” of getting Raila to power as president.

That message had 80 per cent plus of Central ready to buy hook, line and sinker and along with that, they were prepared to throw away the baby with the bathwater. That’s just tragic, though a reality even as we start the process of implementing BBI.

The same message would have equally resonated in large swaths of the Rift Valley, save for pockets here and there where Raila still has support.

 

To their credit for ingenuity, the BBI drafters have come up with a myriad of proposals that on their face are not controversial. However, when it came to the most contentious of all, the Executive and how it should be restructured, the status quo has basically remained, other than adding the presidency more power to appoint a prime minister from the majority party or coalition of parties forming the majority in Parliament.  

In other words, there’s no “backdoor” here to give Raila the presidency and that has people in a certain region so excited you’ll think nothing else matters for them. In fact, nothing else matters for them and that’s also tragic.

This should never be about one or two men: it should be about our beloved country and what we must do to bring about lasting peace and addressing the serious myriad of maladies, including corruption and lack of economic opportunities to alleviate poverty.

To see this level of obsession about one man not ascending to the presidency as the single focus for this large population is not only tragic but also backward.

Ruto was poised to borrow from Raila’s 2005 playbook, defeat BBI and go full-throttle for his 2022 presidential campaign, which he no doubt has in mind he’ll win much as Raila rode the Bomas defeat to defeat President Kibaki in 2007 but rigged out.

Ruto may not have a wave to ride going into 2022, but, given how BBI has been proposed, everything has been cast to Square One, where everyone must regroup and re-think what to do with this masterly of politics we see in full display.

In other words, Ruto has been outwitted in round one. The question now is what he does next and the answer to that obviously depends on what Uhuru and Raila do as the DP can only now react or toe the line for his own political survival.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator