By Mwangi Muiruri
Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua has now revealed how he plotted to end President Uhuru Kenyatta’s influence in the Mt Kenya region that resulted in his humiliation in the August 9 elections.
The intention was to package Deputy President William Ruto as the preferred presidential candidate for the region, deputised by an area son or daughter, and relegate the President to irrelevancy.
And when the rubber met the tarmac, the President was dethroned, and Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua were declared President and deputy-elect by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Dr Ruto, under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), was announced the winner by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati after garnering 7,176,141 votes or 50.49 percent of the votes.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya alliance candidate Raila Odinga, deputised by Martha Karua – the ticket President Kenyatta supported – was placed second with 6,942,930 votes or 48.85 percent of the votes cast.
Prof George Luchiri Wajackoyah of the Roots Party emerged third with 61,969 votes (0.44 percent), while Mwaure Waihiga of the Agano Party came in last with 31,987 (0.23 percent).
Mr Odinga has challenged the results in the Supreme Court, and if justices uphold the outcome, the President will effectively relinquish his Mt Kenya kingpin status to Mr Gachagua.
Mr Gachagua, addressing churchgoers at Gathiru-ini Presbyterian church in Kiambu County last Sunday, revealed how he mobilized Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Kandara’s Alice Wahome, Kikuyu’s Kimani Ichung’wa, Gatundu South’s Moses Kuria and Naivasha’s Jayne Kíhara to launch the overthrow of Mr Kenyatta as the commander of Mt Kenya politics.
“We all congregated at Ms Kihara’s home at night and laid out the groundwork to wrestle Mt Kenya from the capture … domination of one family,” he narrated.
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He described their group of six as “the face of the liberation – the liberation of the Mt Kenya region from the enslavement of one family, a journey that has been long and difficult”.
At Ms Kihara’s house in Naivasha, they sat down and shared out the roles among themselves.
“Those who were to be at the frontline and who would risk the brunt of the fightback of Kenyatta and allies, the backup and counter-backup. It was all about defending the honor of the mountain and its people,” Mr Gachagua said.
The frontline, he said, had the six politicians while others came later to fill in the battalion that by 2018 had managed to rally a majority of Mt Kenya residents to show the President open rebellion.
“We knew it was a risk and it was not unprecedented that the President and allies unleashed all manner of persecutions against us and our presidential candidate, Dr Ruto,” he said.
“We were the frontline and it is well documented how we were made targets of all manner of persecutions.”
He added that it is important that this information be shared so that historians can record “how we freed ourselves from that family, enslavement, state capture, conflict of interest – all those in it be accorded good space … History is important”.
This perhaps explains why Dr Ruto could not pick anyone else for the running mate position, even after it was clear that Mr Gachagua was not the favourite.
On KTN television, Kenya Kwanza principal William Kabogo, who heads the Jujibebe Wakenya Party, revealed that during a vote to pick the running mate, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki received 27 votes, Mr Gachagua three and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi one.
The frontline six, he said, had split because Mr Kuria, head of Chama Cha Kazi and a principal in Kenya Kwanza, had voted for a johnny-come-lately in the name of Mr Muturi.
Mr Gachagua had to come out and defend himself: “I had led these people for four years (since the meeting at Ms Kihara’s house) but when this position of running mate came up, there arose those politics of edging me out.”
Saying that sibling rivalry was normal when something was up for grabs, Mr Gachagua said he was optimistic that the resentment would dissipate and the ticket would win the presidency.
Dr Ruto had also come out in defense of Mr Gachagua saying “those fighting him are driven by nothing else but jealousy”.
He said Mr Gachagua “is a strong character, represents many of my visions and drive and since the task of picking a running mate was exclusively mine, I settled on him”.
Pundits say besides those attributes heaped on Mr Gachagua by Dr Ruto, he was preferred because he knew the President well, having worked as his personal assistant for six years. Mr Gachagua is also known to be a political firebrand who can say anything, anyhow, anywhere against anyone and survive.
A mobiliser and an orator, Mr Gachagua was to lead campaigns in Mt Kenya that painted the President as insensitive to Mt Kenya region interests, a near enemy for trying to sell Mr Odinga to area voters and whose only fate was one: volunteer to cede the role of Mt Kenya political kingpin or be dislodged at the ballot box.
The President chose the former and he got what he bargained for – a total eclipse of his influence, his Jubilee Party and Mr Odinga, with Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance sweeping nearly all contested seats in the region.
Meanwhile, all the frontline soldiers survived the nominations and eventual elections, safe for Mr Kuria, who vied for the Kiambu governor’s seat and lost to Kimani Wamatangi, who had decamped from the President’s corner a month before party nominations.
Mr Ichung’wa, Mr Nyoro and Ms Wahome easily sailed through, with Dr Ruto directly campaigning for them, as Mr Gachagua solidified his position by helping pick contest candidates where consensus could work.
It now emerges that when Mr John Kihagi vied against Ms Kihara for the Naivasha parliamentary seat during UDA nominations and won, he was wasting his time. And even when he started celebrating in Naivasha town while calling on Ms Kihara to accept the results and join him to deliver the seat for UDA in the General Election, he was engaging in idle talk. Contesting against a member of Dr Ruto’s frontline soldier in Mt Kenya was futile.
Mr Kihagi had been announced winner with 10,394 votes against Ms Kihara’s 9,991. UDA top commanders went to Naivasha and had her declared winner and she was awarded the certificate.
Dr Ruto was to take great interest in her bid by campaigning for her. She edged out Mr Kihagi to retain her seat by garnering 44,882 votes. Mr Kihagi, who ran as an independent, came in second by receiving 24,891 votes.
Ms Wahome promised to reveal the nature of the persecutions that President Kenyatta unleashed against Dr Ruto and his Mt Kenya supporters.
“At an appropriate time soon, you will get to know the magnitude of the evil [we faced]. What is in the public domain is just the tip of the iceberg. There were other facets of the persecutions that so far remain untold. We will let you know,” she said.
She said it was more than having the criminal justice system unleashed against them, de-whipping sprees and direct threats.