Details of a private meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta held with some Rift Valley leaders in Nakuru last Tuesday evening are coming out, with pointers that he is out to clear opposition to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), especially in his traditional support bases.
Sources who attended the meeting said that from the President’s address and body language he is a man who wants to fashion his succession, especially in the Mt Kenya region, quite unlike his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, who just faded away.
The Saturday Nation has established that President Kenyatta told politicians and the Kikuyu Council of Elders that anyone who dares stand in the way of his legacy projects by constant bickering will find it rough in the coming days.
“He said he will not work with Tangatanga politicians who are roaming the country making noise, and he will go to the grassroots and listen to the problems of the citizens and sell his government agenda,” said a source.
RUTO ALLIES SIDELINED
The warning directed at Tangatanga is understood by observers to be meant to cut his deputy William Ruto to size, after he defied him on halting early campaigns.
The President is said to have specifically tasked the elders with helping explain what the BBI is all about and reassured them not to worry about the fate of their community, as this would be well taken care of in the final document.
The forum, which was not open to Tangatanga leaders from the region, who openly support DP Ruto, brought together at least 400 elders at Gicheha Farm in Rongai owned by the Kenyatta family.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who played a key role in organising the meeting, in an apparent reference to President Kenyatta’s handover of power, allegedly said the sword is too sharp to be entrusted to another leader from outside the community in its current form.
“The leadership sword is very sharp and needs to be blunted a bit before we can hand it over to another person whose behaviour on assuming the mantle of power can’t be predicted,” he reportedly said, in what is understood to mean suggestions to expand the Executive.
But on Friday, and on realising the details of the meeting had leaked out, Governor Kinyanjui disowned the “sword” remark, saying: “There is no such statement I made at Gicheha Farm. I don’t know where such kind of short-sightedness is coming from. It’s not true and I disown it.”
HANDOVER OF POWER
He added: “People should stop stretching their creativity into issues that don’t exist.”
Coming at a time when President Kenyatta has launched a campaign to regain his foothold in the Mt Kenya region, the allies of DP Ruto have every reason to worry.
Jubilee MPs such as Moses Kuria have in the past accused him of neglecting his people, and Mr Kenyatta earlier in the week announced a raft of measures he said would put money in the pockets of farmers, most of whom are his supporters.
He is said to have pointed out that the politicians going around talking about his succession plan were misrepresenting facts and spreading bad rumours.
“Who said there will be no smooth handover of power? We cannot do things like fools,” the President reportedly said.
QUEST FOR INCLUSIVITY
Our sources say he was emphatic on his support for the BBI, as it would end the tensions and fight for State House that divide the nation every election cycle.
“The President said the BBI will distribute leadership positions among communities and bring more inclusivity in the government,” said another source.
He added: “Communities will feel part and parcel of the government, and that is what BBI is all about.”
We gathered that the President said the BBI will create positions in the Executive that will see Mt Kenya people always have one of their own holding one of the seats, given their numerical strength, while at the same time ensuring that others enjoy power as well to achieve national harmony.
The source further said that although Mr Kenyatta did not directly say BBI would create a permanent seat for the community, it was clear what he meant.
He asserted that all the communities will feel safe in BBI. He urged the community leaders to go flat out and popularise the BBI report at the grassroots ahead of the referendum expected later this year.
He asked the elders to help him preach a positive message about the BBI so that it can be accepted.
Another source said the President said he was still committed to one-man, one-vote, one-shilling, meaning that he still prefers a presidential system.
A senior politician who attended the meeting told the Saturday Nation that President Kenyatta was categorical that he would not entertain the Tangatanga brigade in the region.
Before proceeding to Gicheha Farm, he issued more than 2,000 title deeds to members of Nyakinyua women dancers, who used to entertain his father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta at State House in Nakuru.
Politicians allied DP Ruto — Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria and Senator Susan Kihika — were barred from the function.
Nakuru County Jubilee Party Secretary-General Peter Cheruiyot Mutumishi said there was nothing wrong with President Kenyatta meeting elders from the Kikuyu community, as he was able to engage with opinion leaders and it was a positive thing to do.