The unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative report has set in motion the 2022 Uhuru Kenyatta succession where State House and Office of the President senior officials are working on a script to have Raila Odinga as the stopgap head of state.
Powerful forces want to use the BBI which Ruto and his allies were initially against but have now embraced to chart the Uhuru succession game plan and render Ruto irrelevant. Talk is rife within the handshake camp that the deputy president is out to hijack the BBI using parliament.
The idea is to have power go to Luoland briefly before it returns to Mount Kenya region.
Those behind this push are rooting for Raila due to his advanced age which they reason is unlikely to see him go beyond one term.
It is on these grounds that the opposition leader has also dropped his earlier calls for a parliamentary system of government and is now comfortable with the BBI model of having a powerful president.
Insiders familiar with this script revealed that it is being pushed by youthful State House and Harambee House officials who feel insecure should Ruto take over as president in 2022.
They fear that if Ruto takes over from Uhuru, he will go for two terms and also groom a non-Kikuyu to succeed him in 2032.
So elaborate is the scheme to make Raila the president that the government has ordered county commissioners, their deputies and chiefs to market the BBI report in their jurisdictions to ensure its endorsement by the public.
The current incorporation of provincial administration clearly shows powerful forces are for a referendum. Fear is that if BBI lands and is midwifed in parliament, Ruto who controls majority of MPs will have the last laugh. Remember the current bad blood between Uhuru and Ruto was due to the fact, whether true or false that, the deputy was planning an impeachment motion against Uhuru in parliament and then land the presidency during Uhuru last term in power. To counter the move, Uhuru had to bring on board ODM and other opposition MPs now behind Raila to checkmate Ruto.
Those behind the new push include Interior cabinet secretary, Fred Matiang’i, Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho, State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua, former presidential adviser Nancy Gitau, Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju and his former assistant David Murathe.
These are the ones who chose the speakers during the BBI event at Bomas of Kenya when Uhuru and Raila made the BBI report public.
It is the team that through the Interior ministry sent out invitations to 100 representatives from each of the 47 counties bringing the total number of delegates to 4,700 being part of the referendum deal network in counties.
At the event, the team ensured that Ruto was humiliated to send to him the signal that he is no longer Uhuru’s preferred successor.
Ruto endured moments of humiliation before, during and after the launch. He was blocked entering Uhuru and Raila consultative meeting at Bomas only attended by cabinet secretaries who believe if Ruto is the next president, they will lose their plum slots in post Uhuru era.
That the DP was having an uneasy time was reflected in his demeanour and body language during the ceremony.
During the ceremony, leaders who have openly shown support for Ruto under the Tangatanga faction of Jubilee were conspicuously missing from the list of speakers. Being a presidential function, State House was fully involved in the programme lineup and those to make speeches.
We have information that Suna East MP Mohammed Junnet was picked as master of ceremony on grounds that he was the only elected leader that was present during the famous handshake at Harambee House after he accompanied Raila.
Junnet is now a key player in Raila kitchen cabinet and holds the powerful minority leader in parliament position that has helped Uhuru pass sensitive bills some even unpopular with his ruling Jubilee side MPs to solve the current economic crisis that has made him very unpopular.
Only Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the majority leader in the senate, and Adan Duale, the majority leader in the national assembly, got a chance to speak following pressure from some of the leaders present.
Interestingly, most MPs were not in attendance together with the speakers of the national assembly and senate – Justin Muturi and Ken Lusaka – which was a signal that the BBI report may not go through the two houses.
Curiously, at the meeting Raila, invited the head of state thanks to State House input to tame Ruto. The official programme was also distributed about 30 minutes after the meeting had started which was another shocker to Ruto.
Tangatanga politicians protested after discovering that Suna East MP was listed as an emcee for the event. Many wanted a neutral person even the government spokesman Cyrus Oguna to have been in charge of the programme to show nationalism after spending a whopping Sh15 billion on BBI to come out with the report.
Speaking to this reporter, Junnet said he was picked to be the master of the ceremony by virtue of having accompanied Raila to Harambee House on March 9 2018 when the opposition leader shook hands with the president.
Together with Junnet at Harambee House was Raila’s daughter, Winnie. Junnet was forced to call on Murkomen and Duale after protests from other leaders present.
State House was instrumental in having women reps Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a), governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) speak at the function.
Oparanya came to the rescue of his Nairobi counterpart Mike Mbuvi Sonko to give a speech by virtue of being the host. Sonko does not get on well with Kibicho and had been locked out of the programme.
The other speakers who have in the past said Ruto had no chance of becoming president in 2022 but who were invited to address the gathering were Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.
Weekly Citizen has information that Uhuru had entrusted Matiang’i and Kibicho to be fully in charge of the Bomas event and that is why he kept on consulting them now and then sidelining Ruto.
Insiders say the plan was to humiliate Ruto to force him reconsider his backing of the BBI and bolt out. Surprisingly, Ruto is said to be aware of the plot to use BBI to create more rifts between him and his boss just like was with the handshake and that is why he is taking middle ground pushing for both parliament and referendum for its implementation.
The anti-Ruto team’s scheme was to humiliate Ruto to force him leave the venue but the deputy president appears to have read their minds and hence decided to stay put.
Insiders add that the Matiang’i, Kibicho, Kinuthia, Tuju and Murathe axis has identified a person be appointed the prime minister by Raila once he wins the presidency. Insiders say that there is no way Uhuru kitchen cabinet could have allowed the creation of the PM slot without having one person Uhuru and his family has in mind to occupy.
Talk has been Uhuru young brother Muhoho Kenyatta is being groomed for the seat as the tide in Central is against Uhuru himself. Others say that if need be, Waiguru is to take the slot to win the formidable women vote bloc. Others are even pushing for Kibicho after being nominated to parliament or CS Peter Munya. The name of Matiang’i features among those from outside Mount Kenya. It is eagerly awaited to be seen if those mentioned will run for a parliamentary seat to qualify.
On the appointment of the premier, the BBI states that within a set number of days following the summoning of parliament after an election, the president shall appoint as prime minister, an elected member of the national assembly from a political party having a majority of members in the national assembly or, if no political party has a majority, one who appears to have the support of a majority of MPs.
The nominee for prime minister shall not assume office until his or her appointment is first confirmed by a resolution of the national assembly supported by an absolute majority vote of MPs.
If the prime minister nominee is not confirmed, the president shall have another set number of days to make another appointment. This process shall continue until there is a successful nomination for prime minister.
The prime minister may be dismissed by the president or through a vote of no confidence in the national assembly.
It is even whispered that powerful forces surrounding Uhuru led by Kibicho and Kinuthia blocked the BBI creation of deputy premier slots. They are calculating to be in the next government to assume the powers of the deputy premiers which they will use to mobilise support for Raila in the new government.
The prime minister, according to BBI, will not have deputies hence giving the two senior civil servants the chance to assume the powers.
That powerful forces surrounding Uhuru are out to control the BBI process and lock out Ruto which is well manifested when almost the entire cabinet and principal secretaries trooped Kirinyaga, the home turf of Waiguru and Kibicho for a fundraising just a day after the BBI launch.
Also present at the function were Raila allies led by Joho, Junnet, Wanga and James Ongwae among others.
But they were in for a shock after chaos and pandemonium rocked their meeting at Gathuthuini Primary School in Kirinyaga county.
Drama began when nominated MP Maina Kamanda, in his speech, failed to recognise Ruto as a key player in BBI.
Kamanda reportedly refused to recognise Ruto as Kenyatta’s “partner in government”.
In his address, Kamanda repeatedly made references to the president and Raila as the political pillars, who “have led to uninterrupted peace and political stability in Kenya”.
This infuriated residents who had attended the event who began chanting “Ruto, Ruto”, forcing Kamanda to cut short his speech.
As pro-Ruto chants rent the air, Kibicho grabbed the microphone and told those “who were not interested in what was being said”, to leave the venue, terming their actions as “primitive”.
In his speech, Matiang’i, asked those who accused Kibicho of being an anti-Ruto to direct the blame on him and president. Speaking to this writer, Kamanda claimed the hecklers were imported at the function by the pro-DP side in the region to disrupt the function.
Matiang’i told off the leaders allied to Ruto, who are accusing Kibicho of using state resources to undermine Ruto.
But the team’s biggest headache is the decision by Ruto to throw his weight behind BBI and to stay put as the deputy president.
Already, Ruto while supporting the report stated that it has covered the majority of the problems facing Kenyans and politicians should not hijack it for their interests.
But the anti-DP team is reading a sinister motive in Ruto’s support for the BBI and his call for parliament to lead its implementation.
Last week, the deputy president called for people to leave the decisions concerning the BBI to be handled by the relevant bodies, stating that it was a project meant to benefit all Kenyans and not just a few individuals.
“There is a problem, let us agree. There is nothing you are telling us that we are going to parliament to discuss the BBI report. We know very well that William Samoei Ruto will buy all MPs and they will cause a problem in this country,” Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati stated while supporting calls for a referendum.
While speaking at Bomas, Murkomen was the first to suggest that the BBI report should go through parliament after launch.
From the look of things, BBI is a state project and will be achieved in two-pronged ways in parliament where need be, and the referendum.
For a referendum, the state has already won MCAs on its side by proposing in BBI report they handle the lucrative and popular bursary fund that has been in hands of MPs to sale the report at grassroots.
In fact word has it that the suggestion to have bursary fund in hands of MCAs was to make the report unpopular among MPs and openly oppose it thus referendum idea prevail getting Ruto off guard. Only two areas need referendum input that is creation of PM slot that has to go in the public eyes as it is a constitutional office and is not in the current one. There are however some with reservations on creation of a powerful PM citing countries that have tried it, Kenya included during nusu mkate era, and say it will bring anarchy in administration,
Then we have the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission that needs to be overhauled but it is enshrined in current constitution. Talk has been rife that Ruto has control over Wafula Chebukati led IEBC moreso, going by the fact that they cleared footballer Macdonald Mariga to run for Kibra by- election after the returning officer had declined.
It is yet to be seen how IEBC staff would oversee an exercise aimed at removing them from office. Others say that it is recipe for chaos to have parties nominate commissioners as the report proposes because they would all be biased which would throw the whole organisation into squabbles.