President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday declared that he was in charge amid sustained pressure by his allies to kick out his deputy William Ruto for opposing his pet project, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The visibly angry president said he had listened to political talk for six hours, adding that no political figure would stand on his way to leave a peaceful and united country when he retires next year.
“When a lion has been rained on, don’t confuse it for a cat. Everything has its time. Those making noise and writing letters, let them continue but I want to make it clear that I am in charge and in control and I know where I am going,” said Uhuru.
He hit out at Ruto and his allies over their alleged remarks that they were tired of his style of leadership.
The president was speaking at the burial of Hanna Mudavadi, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi’s mother at her home in Mululu, Sabatia, Vihiga County.
Political figures allied to the president and ODM leader Raila Odinga directly addressed Uhuru, urging him to crack the whip before Ruto and his allies overwhelm him politically ahead of the next elections.
The calls were made by Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, who told the president to crack the whip on the rebels or else he will be taken for a coward.
Atwoli asked President Kenyatta to expel Ruto from the ruling Jubilee Party for opposing BBI, which is a brainchild of Uhuru and his Handshake partner Raila.
“Your deputy has said that what has derailed the Big Four Agenda is the BBI. He knows the two important projects are both yours and he claims to be your deputy,” said the vocal trade unionist.
“Does Jubilee not have a clause to expel people? Which party is that? I want you to leave a peaceful country. Please crack the whip or else you will find them in your bedroom.”
He also urged the president to protect his allies from attacks by the Jubilee rebels.
“Even people who are dying with you like Peter Kenneth have been declared illegal immigrants in their homestead. Protect your lieutenants,” he said.
On Friday, some Jubilee members allied to Ruto launched a new party, United Democratic Alliance (UDA), and declared they would field candidates to rival Jubilee, adding that they were ready to quit the ruling party.
But Uhuru said he heard some of the politicians say the country was tired of leadership by one family.
“If you are tired with the leadership you can go back to the ballot; some of the people making the remarks won their leadership positions not on their votes but mine,” he said.
“And if that is the thinking or the logic then I can also say it is only two communities that have ruled the country and it is therefore time for another community to lead.”
Senator Malala told Uhuru that some of his allies were out to sabotage the BBI agenda.
Malala singled out Senate Minority Whip Irungu Kang’ata over his letter to the president suggesting that BBI was not popular in Central region.
“Today, I challenge the president, as on your side, people are disturbing the peace. Your legacy is in uniting Kenyans, anyone who is undermining this is by so doing undermining the will of Kenyans,” he said.
“Today, I expect Kang’ata to apologise for the letter that he wrote to President Uhuru. Kang’ata, let’s respect the president.”
Kang’ata, who was present at the burial, has since called for press a briefing today in Nairobi.
Raila also used the ceremony to dismiss the hustler versus dynasty narrative, saying the country cannot achieve sustainable development through tokenism.
He gave examples of Kenyatta, Moi and Odinga families, whom he said came from humble backgrounds before rising to top leadership positions.
“The issue of wheelbarrow cannot bring change to this country. Let us come out as Kenyans to build a united Kenya. That is what Uhuru and myself stand for,” he said.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi said his family and that of Mudavadi enjoyed strong ties.
“I grew up together with Mudavadi, our families knew each other since the 1940s when Mudavadi senior was an education officer in Baringo. Since then, we have maintained a strong bond and even our children continue with the good relationship,” said Gideon.
He urged Luhya leaders to remain united if they have to make an impact in national politics.
“Unite and take your rightful space on the political table,” said the Kanu chairman.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu rallied the top political figures to work together to ensure “their opponent” does not succeed President Kenyatta.
Ngilu, who also seized the moment to vouch for her candidature for the top seat, said the leaders risk losing the country’s leadership to people who do not mean well.
“I can see the kind of support you have in Sabatia and in Western, but when you come to Ukambani it would be a different thing, the same as when you go to Central,” she said.
Similar sentiments were shared by Kiambu Governor James Nyoro, who told mourners that Uhuru’s political bastion was solidly behind the proposed constitutional changes.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo said the leadership has to focus on development agenda that will define the next elections.
“If we continue to talk about 2022 without talking about what is defining Kenya today, we will bring this country down,” said Orengo.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, however, urged the leaders to allow for divergent views from those opposed to the BBI.
“If you propose BBI, there would be people who will oppose it like Martha. It is not right to label people as allies of certain people when they oppose an issue,” she said.