By Ngunjiri Wambugu
On many occasions, recently during public gatherings, my friend and colleague MP Moses Kuria has stated that the Mt Kenya region will support Deputy President William Ruto for the presidency in 2022. This is his opinion and I respect it. However, as a legislator and elected MP from the same region, I feel it is important to point out that 2022 is over four years away, and no one, not even Kuria or myself, is guaranteed reelection in 2022.
For elected legislators like Kuria and me, we would therefore be doing this country a great disservice if we started a campaign for 2022 at this point —for anyone, including ourselves. It is barely three months since we concluded an unusually long, very toxic presidential campaign. Kenyans are tired of political campaigns. What they want to hear from the leaders they elected is service delivery. Even President Uhuru Kenyatta keeps emphasising this point and the Deputy President also said the same.
As an MP from the Mt Kenya region, the one thing I know unifies the entire region right now is a desire to ensure that Uhuru’s legacy is secured. As one of his foot soldiers who went out seeking votes for him as I campaigned for myself, we promised Kenyans that we would deliver the Jubilee manifesto. This is why people voted for him — and us — so overwhelmingly. Our responsibility now is to deliver on that promise; and this we must do before we ask for votes again.
Uhuru has summarised the Jubilee manifesto into a simple four-point plan: Food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare. I am convinced that the person who will take over from Uhuru in 2022 is one who will, with utmost dedication, commitment and resilience, support Uhuru to deliver on these four points.
I also know that how Uhuru performs by 2022 is how his legacy will be judged by history. Finally, as a voter from Mt Kenya, I also know that Uhuru’s legacy is how any other person who ever wants to be President of Kenya from our region will be judged when he seeks that position the first time, whether in 20 years, or 50.
This is why some of us will be very harsh on anyone — whether from within or outside our political circles — who tries to derail the President’s agenda.
We will also revisit many issues that will happen during the next four years, when we go to make decisions in 2022. (For example when the President asks MPs to distribute committee leadership positions in Parliament inclusively to ensure we have a good balance and some refuse to heed his call, we note this and will revisit).
To re-emphasise — the discussion about who will become President in 2022 is at least four years premature. We are in January 2018 — many things can happen between now and then.
However, there is absolutely no doubt that Deputy President William Ruto is the frontrunner for that position. What we cannot do is go around looking for votes for him today, for 2022. We also cannot go around telling the DP that he will get votes — from any particular region — unconditionally. That would be to lie to him.
This is because the Kenyan voter is very ‘woke’, as young people call it these days, very aware of what he or she wants. They will not commit to vote for any candidate, at whatever level, four years before an election. They also expect any candidate who wants their vote to engage them directly, understand what they expect from the person who they will ultimately vote for and prove to them that they will deliver on those expectations. Finally, they will watch how someone performs in between elections.
So the reality of 2022 is that it depends entirely on what happens between now and then.