EDITORIAL 2 of 8: An Appeal To Rigathi Gachagua


EDITORIAL 2 of 8: An Appeal To Rigathi Gachagua

Mr Deputy President,

Few people have had the singular honour you’ve been bestowed upon by the gods – you would say by God – of working closely with three individuals who at the time of your interactions were either presidents or presidents-to-be. Considering that Kenya has had only five presidents, it means you’ve worked closely with three, giving you membership to a small elite club of Kenyans who can boast of such favour. 

While a student at the University of Nairobi in the 1980s, you made your way into the inner sanctum of President Daniel arap Moi, leading delegations to State House and eventually landing an administrative role at the Office of the President. Just over a decade later, when Moi was readying to exit the stage and preferably hand over power to Uhuru Kenyatta, his chosen successor, you became Uhuru’s right hand man, ostensibly seconded by Moi. Much as Uhuru didn’t succeed Moi in 2002, he ascended to the presidency in 2013. By the time you made your parliamentary debut in 2017, Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto were drifting apart fast, and in your own wisdom, you sided with Ruto, becoming one of his most ardent supporters.

You possibly have a knack for smelling who has the likelihood of becoming president, because after surmounting his political tribulations with you and a few others by his side, William Ruto became president, making him the third president you’d worked with either as president or president-to-be. But unlike in Moi’s or Uhuru’s case, in Ruto’s matrix, you wouldn’t be a mere functionary. You’d become his deputy, the absolute right hand man as it were. Your friendship and loyalty to Ruto had further been solidified by your being the occupant of the second highest office in the land. This, Mr Deputy President, had to be one of the highest honours of your life, because no one could have imagined that a first time Member of Parliament would be elected as Deputy President.

And so much as naysayers had reservations about your ascendence to the office you occupy today, there was an expectation from those who either believed in you or gave you the benefit of the doubt – and even those who didn’t wish you well at all, because your success meant Kenya’s success – that no matter your chequered history and/or personal and political baggage (as is carried by most), you would step up to the plate and offer William Ruto the kind of level-headed counsel needed to steady a gigantic ship facing gargantuan economic and other turbulences as Kenya was (still is) facing. 

To say, Mr Deputy President, this was your singular opportunity to be of utmost service to the nation as someone who’s handled presidents and presidents-to-be, someone who understood and appreciated state craft, someone who knew that power is transient – as seen by the fates of your two former principals, Moi and Uhuru, both of whose chosen successors didn’t ascend to the presidency, both of whom faced humiliation as they handed over power. 

But beyond the political experience, you made it known to Kenyans during the 2022 deputy presidential debate that as a teetotaller and prayerful man, you wouldn’t be a victim of the debaucherous distractions known to sidetrack those at the highest offices of state. All you needed, it seemed, was for Kenyans to entrust you with power as William Ruto’s number two, and they’d see for themselves the sort of better leader you were from all those who went against you.

We won’t waste your time with more history, recent and ancient. Upon being sworn in till date, you’ve seized every opportunity to castigate Uhuru Kenyatta and his collaborators, chiefly Raila Odinga. When not engaged in such, you’ve opted to dwell on affairs of the Mount Kenya region, always proclaiming your fidelity to the region’s interests before your allegiance to anything else. In your jabs to Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga and Co., especially lately regarding the cost of living protests, yours has been a hardline position, always reiterating that you’ve ringfenced the Ruto State House, to keep off invaders, predators and deal-makers.

More prominently, you’ve equated the Kenyan state to a limited company with shareholders, where those who supported yourself and the President are shareholders and those who voted for your competitors are non-shareholders. The list of your faux pas, Mr Deputy President, can be made long, but there’s absolutely no need for such. The media, which you’ve been at loggerheads with from day one, has been at it from day one, and we wouldn’t want you to view our intervention as one of these ceaseless provocations in this long-standing duel. 

For us, the danger and tragedy of your oral-trajectory is threefold. Senior members of your administration, all coming from the Mount Kenya region, have taken cue from your style and utterances and become dangerously loose and lousy tongued, to a point where they may endanger the country’s national security. Tied to this is the risk that as much as you hold the second most important office in Kenya, you may be reduced to being a Mount Kenya politician courtesy of your tunnel-vision in seeking to appear as the area’s kingpin when you have a national constituency to serve. Lastly, there’s an even bigger risk related to the first two, being that God forbid, were misfortune to strike and something happened to the President, thereby necessitating your ascendance to the presidency, you may face difficulties bringing everyone along as a unifier as the office demands. These scenarios, and others, should precipitate a change of course from a person of your experience, especially at this particular dark hour. 

As your administration is facing difficulties with a struggling economy and pressure from the opposition regarding the high cost of living, the biggest assistance you can offer the President is to quell the divisive noise, so that the political fire lacks one more burning log. At worst, if being a unifier isn’t what you seek to become, then staying tight-lipped would be your second best card, because your silence will be less costly than gasoline-type utterances. At this point of precarity, any further degree of divisiveness, especially from your person, will prove costly.


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