The visit by Deputy President William Ruto to Nyanza commencing today has created a lot of excitement. Ruto is a fierce critic of opposition leader Raila Odinga and opposition leaders always work hard to Isolate him.
They have packaged Ruto as the roadblock to cohesion. To many Ruto does not support the Building Bridges handshake.
As DP, he is expected to symbolise national unity. He has cleverly turned President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘kutangatanga’ jibe into praise for his tours to assess Kenya’s development needs and inform the President.
There is a very thin line between politics and development tours. This will be seen by many as an affront to Raila. It is not lost on many that Migori governor Okoth Obado is considered a Ruto ally.
Obado is also a thorn in Raila’s fresh. The visit comes hot on the heels of the recent Senate by-election in which ODM’s candidate was given a hard time — and voters publicly criticised Raila. It will be perceived that Ruto is moving in for the kill.
The DP will also have goodies and his storytelling tricks to attract voters.
For the DP to achieve his objective — boosting his State House run — he must publicly support the handshake and avoid criticising Raila. He will remind Nyanza that he hosted Raila and Uhuru for lunch. He must stick to the pet topics of cohesion, fighting corruption and promoting development.
Raila is on record saying he is in politics to stay. This is his response to Ruto supporters who have been urging him to retire and focus on his AU job. It is safe to assume he will run in 022.
A Ruto vs Raila contest will boil down to whether there will be a referendum to amend the Constitution. Ruto is aware that Articles 255, 256 and 257 make it virtually impossible to amend the constitution to reduce the number of counties, wards or constituencies.
It would be opposed by the Parliament or county assemblies. Ruto will go flat out to oppose an initiative that seeks to introduce new elective executive positions at the national level.