Deputy President William Ruto has entered into a pact with 14 second-term governors and a number of first-term county bosses as part of enhancing his political power base in his presidential bid.
Ruto, apparently having relinquished a possible endorsement by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the ruling Jubilee Party, has laid down an elaborate plan of having control of most of the regions through the county bosses.
After the fallout between President Kenyatta and Ruto, the Deputy President has trained his guns on next year’s General Election.
According to sources who did not want to be named, Ruto has embarked on a recruitment drive targeting first and second term governors.
The list that the Sunday Standard is privy to includes governors from Western, Rift Valley, Coast, Mt Kenya, Eastern and North Eastern regions, who have reportedly agreed to work with the DP.
The pact does not stipulate what positions they will get in Ruto’s government after the elections, but assures them that they will be part of it.
As for the first-term governors, their support for the DP will be reciprocated by him backing them for a second term.
Sources claim those ‘fully’ in the fold include 13 first-term governors and 14 second-term ones drawn from Jubilee, ODM and other smaller parties.
Despite indicating their resolve to join the Ruto camp, most of the governors have asked for more time to see the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process succeed.
Others have requested for time so they can officially make their support for him publicly known early next year.
The remaining governors, the sources said, were either not approached because of their strong political background that is opposed to the DP, or they flatly refused to board Ruto’s political ship.
The arrangement will have the outgoing governors mobilise support for Ruto in their backyards in return for consideration in government positions if he wins the presidential race.
The agreements have been kept under wraps, with the governors mostly engaging Ruto in private meetings or through emissaries, according to a source.
“The governors are very instrumental in grassroots mobilisation in their counties and regions. Therefore, their support is very crucial.
“The DP knows this and has put emphasis on the matter even as he increases the number of MPs and MCAs he will be working with,” said the source.
“There are those timing to see how Jubilee will treat ODM leader Raila Odinga in the Handshake deal.
“They promise to officially take a stand once the BBI passes the popular vote and if President Kenyatta will stick with Raila or not,” the source added.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the DP’s plan is to expand his presence at the grassroots through county coordination teams.
Take a position
“The deputy president is speaking with everyone in his journey to the presidency in 2022. There are many governors he engages with every day, most of them are however not comfortable to come out now because of fears of being victimised,” said Gachagua.
The MP said in the fullness of time, most of those quiet elected leaders will take a position and that is when those fighting the DP will know that the ground shifted.
“When the right time comes, many will be shocked that people moved. Ruto speaks the language that common Kenyans understand and some leaders have been persuaded to support the DP because of pressure from their voters,” said Gachagua.
Second-term governors who are already openly working with the DP include Josphat Nanok (Turkana), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Samburu’s Kasaine Lenolkulal.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said many more would show their true colours in due course.
“The discussions have been going on and many are waiting for the opportune time,” said Baya.
Part of the deal is that the governors will use United Democratic Alliance (UDA), their own parties or fringe parties popular in their regions in the pro-DP campaigns.
They will be expected to help the DP shore up support and eventually build a formidable national team during the campaigns next year.
The parties include former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party (TSP), Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) led by Isaac Ruto, Kadu Asili associated with Baya, Aisha Jumwa of Malindi, Mohamed Ali of Nyali and other MPs in the Coast region and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s People’s Empowerment Party (PEP).
Others are People’s Democratic Party (PDP) associated with former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara, Kivutha Kibwana’s Muungano Party and and New Democrats Party.
UDA is set to unveil its spokesperson, with insiders fronting political analyst and strategist Barrack Muluka who left Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC).
“The county coordination meeting was held on Friday night where representatives were picked to spearhead the process to market UDA and have grassroots support,” said a senior official of the ‘Hustle Nation’ camp, who is aware of the elaborate plans.
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