Deputy President William Ruto yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that he does not intend to mobilise funds for or lead the ‘No’ campaigns at the BBI referendum, with his allies warning that such a move would hurt his 2022 State House ambitions.
Instead, the DP wants to concentrate on his ‘hustler’ empowerment programmes — his rags-to-riches story that targets small business owners and the poor in society — as he seeks to consolidate support ahead of the 2022 poll, interviews with his close strategists and allies have revealed.
Those close to the DP want him to focus on his State House bid, arguing that pro-BBI leaders who have refused to heed calls for changes to the report, are seeking to distract Mr Ruto from his grassroots mobilisation. Yesterday, the DP alluded to his hesitance to lead a ‘No’ campaign.
“It is now becoming clear to us that anybody with an alternative view that can improve the document is now being told to go to the ‘No’ side. Why do you want to force people to go to ‘No’ when we can all be united through consensus and building one united country?” asked Mr Ruto at his Karen residence when he met Wajir ward reps. He accused those pushing for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ outcome of being insincere.
“There are some people who want a divisive referendum, an Us-Versus-Them, the Yes/No referendum, not because they are interested in what will come out of the document, but because of political reasons targeted at 2022 so we can have sides.
I want to ask Kenyans not to participate in this divisive agenda. Let us build consensus if we are genuinely interested in a united country,” he said.
He added: “How do you sort out the problem of divisive elections leading to a divided country, by running a divisive referendum that will end up with a divided country? It is entirely a zero sum game… “
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is also the DP’s de-facto spokesperson, said the Ruto team will not be in the ‘No’ campaign.
“We do not want a divided nation when we are going towards an election… issues we have raised are not our personal views, but those of people we represent. Secondly, we cannot say we have money for referendum but no funds to cater for Kenyans during this pandemic,” said the Soy MP.
Bomet Senator Christopher Lang’at accused those opposed to changes to the BBI report of planning a “mock election” to gauge the DP’s support, an opportunity he said they were not eager to grant them.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, said: “These people who are trying to push us into Yes-No campaigns and want to use it to create an anti-Ruto euphoria into the next general elections, hence we’re no longer interested in this BBI even if they refuse to include our views.”
According to Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono, the team has agreed that there is no need of putting resources into fighting the BBI report.