Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has told off Deputy President William Ruto over his overtures for a presidential political pact ahead of 2022.
Mr Mudavadi turned down Dr Ruto’s proposal for a joint stab at the presidency, describing it as cheeky and ridiculous. He said that an alliance with Dr Ruto cannot sell.
He was responding to remarks made by the DP in his Sabatia backyard on Saturday.
For the first time ever, Dr Ruto, who has been frequenting Western Kenya over the last couple of months as he intensifies his search for political support ahead of 2022, said they could form the next government together.
Speaking at a funds drive in favour of 400 women groups drawn from the six wards in Sabatia, he reminded the Amani leader that he campaigned for him and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2007 when they lost to retired President Mwai Kibaki.
According to Dr Ruto, a political alliance between him and the Amani leader is key to the 2022 victory.
"I am for the decision that we unite for development and form government," he told Mr Mudavadi. "We have those with expertise to form government and others with expertise to form the opposition."
In a rejoinder on Sunday, Mr Mudavadi, through a statement released by his press secretary Kibisu Kabatesi, said he is not about to join his bandwagon.
"Ruto's proposition is cheeky and ridiculous and cannot sell. No serious Kenyan can buy into that gimmick," said the Amani leader.
He went on: "My agenda and convictions are miles apart from Dr Ruto’s. Ruto is part of the Jubilee government that has put the country into serious economic crisis through debt and corruption.”
Reacting separately, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli warned that Mr Mudavadi risks becoming politically irrelevant should he fall prey to Dr Ruto's seduction.
He said Dr Ruto's numerous visits to the region will not yield him any political fruits.
"Ruto can come to Western 1,000 times and talk to all leaders, Mudavadi included, but there is no Luhya who in his right mind will vote for him,” declared Mr Atwoli.
Mr Atwoli, who named Mr Mudavadi as the Luhya spokesman in 2016 during the famous Bukhungu declaration, asked the vote-rich community to prepare for Bukhungu Two.
"Ruto has belittled Mudavadi for a long time and equated him to a white ant. It will be very foolish for anyone in Mudavadi's camp to think or advice for an alignment with Ruto," said Mr Atwoli.
The veteran trade unionist called on the ANC leader to chart his own political path by stopping insinuations by Dr Ruto.
Mr Atwoli further asked Mr Mudavadi to sieve through his inner circle as there could be lieutenants paying homage to the DP.
"As a Luhya elder, I say Kenyan politics is pegged on ethnicity, and people should know that Luhyas have their own," said Mr Atwoli.
Mr Mudavadi is the pioneet of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) that gave Jubilee a ran for its money in 2017.
Mr Odinga, who was the Nasa presidential candidate, opted for a working relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta, a move that made the opposition alliance moribund.
Mr Mudavadi then declared himself the opposition chief and has offered to remain in opposition, accusing some of his Nasa colleagues of abandoning a dream that was held dear by their supporters.
On Saturday, in a more conciliatory mood, Dr Ruto — who was at Nabwani in Sabatia, Vihiga County — reminded the Amani leader that he campaigned for him and Mr Odinga in 2007.
Said Dr Ruto: "I am calling on Mudavadi to join this team (Ruto's Jubilee wing) so that we can form government.”
He went on: "I was here in Sabatia for the last time in 2007 and campaigned for Agwambo (in reference to Raila Odinga) and Musalia. We did not make it at the time. I was their errand boy at the time."
Dr Ruto then said he will in the course of this financial year launch the tarmacking of Mago-Mululu-Wangulu road that leads to Mr Mudavadi's rural home.
He noted that he wants the road improved because "this will make my friend Mudavadi get a road to his home and as an extension of a helping hand as this world is all about helping each other".
Mr Mudavadi welcomed the plan by Dr Ruto to construct the road and reminded the Deputy President that he is the one who constructed the Eldoret airport.
The country's second-in-command then announced that he would return to Sabatia later this month (September) to lead a funds drive in favour of a church.
Sabatia MP and Mr Mudavadi's closest ally Alfred Agoi urged his party boss to shove off Dr Ruto's overtures and focus on the presidency.
"We urge Mudavadi to be ready to be on the presidential ballot in 2022. We will not accept someone who brings us peanuts for development in Vihiga, and when he goes to his backyard he opens a Sh3 billion factory," said Mr Agoi.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, Mumias East MP Ben Washiali and Sirisia MP John Waluke want Mr Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula to forge a political pact with Dr Ruto because he holds the key to presidential victory.
Dr Khalwale also claimed that Kakamega and Bungoma counties are leaning towards Dr Ruto.
"Ruto made Raila Prime Minister and Musalia Deputy Prime Minister in 2007. Ruto made Uhuru a two-term president. This is an obvious answer that Ruto is the player who can score a goal."
Mr Washiali said he had walked alongside Mudavadi from Kanu to ODM and later to the defunct UDF. "We (Ruto's team) will look for him (Mudavadi) and walk with him."
His Sirisia counterpart Mr Waluke, while assuring that Dr Ruto will be the fifth President, said: "I ask Mudavadi and Wetang'ula to join Ruto. Ten years is a short time. Ruto will hand over to Mudavadi after the 10 years. We want Mudavadi to talk with Ruto."