Deputy President William Ruto’s recent tour of Nakuru County has revealed cracks in Jubilee Party among leaders in the cosmopolitan devolved unit.
Most political leaders in the ruling party in the county have thrown their weight behind Dr Ruto’s 2022 State house bid.
During the DP’s tour of Nakuru on Saturday where he presided over two funds drives at African Independent Pentecostal Church (AIPCA) in Nakuru Town East and at Kabazi trading centre in Subukia constituency, a section of leaders led by Senator Susan Kihika reiterated their support for Dr Ruto.
Ms Kihika is the co-chairperson of the women’s league, Inua Mama team, which supports the DP.
Other elected leaders behind the DP include David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Samuel Kinuthia Gachobe (Subukia), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Martha Wangare (Gilgil), Joseph Kipkosgei Tonui (Kuresoi South), Francis Kuria Kimani (Molo), Charity Kathambi Chepkwony (Njoro) and Woman Rep Liza Chepkorir Chelule.
Nakuru County Assembly Speaker Joel Maina Kairu and majority of the MCAs in the Jubilee-dominated House support Dr Ruto and have vowed to back Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot’s “Punguza Mizigo” Bill.
During the tour, the leaders said Dr Ruto was the best bet to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022. However, Governor Kinyanjui tactfully kept off the debate and instead concentrated on development matters.
“I want to assure you that when time comes in 2022 Nakuru, leaders will stand with you,” Ms Kihika told Dr Ruto at AIPCA church.
Mr Kinyanjui thanked the DP for steering the national unity and urged him to support the elevation of Nakuru town to city status.
“Please stand with us when the Nakuru city status report is tabled before the Cabinet,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
The DP has visited Nakuru more than four times this year and each time he is in town, Governor Kinyanjui has steered away from the debate.
However, to many political pundits in the region, the stance taken by Mr Kinyanjui did not come as a surprise.
Mr Kinyanjui and Ms Kihika are both key leaders in Jubilee Nakuru branch but they do not see eye-to eye.
Their political rivalry has sharply divided the party supporters in the cosmopolitan region which is the second biggest support base for President Kenyatta outside his home county of Kiambu.
Ms Kihika has shown keen interest to vie for the Nakuru governor seat and has launched campaign to poke holes on Mr Kinyanjui’s leadership at the grassroots.
This has seen the two leaders roll up their sleeves in readiness for what is expected to be one of the toughest political fight in 2022.
The political war is becoming interesting since Ms Kihika is one of the closest allies of Dr Ruto while Mr Kinyanjui is now a darling of President Kenyatta.
Apart from Governor Kinyanjui, Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama is another key Jubilee leader in the region who does not back the DP.
“I am behind the handshake and Building Bridges Initiative and I will throw my weight behind whoever President Kenyatta endorses,” said Mr Arama.
When President Kenyatta addressed Nakuru County Assembly on August 14, he told Mr Arama to mobilise other political leaders to visit him at State House to discuss Nakuru County’s development agenda.
Most of the MPs who had the President’s ears in the region such as Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri are no longer the darling of the President as they have openly criticised him for failing to openly support the DP’s 2022 bid.
Mr Kimani, who has since toned down his attack on the President, is one of the closest allies of the DP.