Claiming the initial plan was to offer the opposition leader “some senior position in government”, the senator wonders why Mr Odinga did not take up the job “instead of causing trouble”.
Asked about the position Mr Odinga was offered, Mr Cheruiyot responded curtly, “nenda mmuulize, yeye mwenyewe anajua (he is best placed to tell you, go and ask him)”
However, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu says outbursts over Mr Odinga’s alleged “political conmanship” are meant to show the public that the President made a mistake in striking a deal with the Orange party leader. “They are saying that Uhuru doesn't know what he's doing. It's all meant to undermine the President by showing that he made a decision that was wrong,” says the MP, adding that this stand is linked to Mr Ruto’s 2022 ambitions.
According to Mr Wambugu, the DP’s camp believes Mr Kenyatta made their work harder by making peace with Mr Odinga. “It's easier to rally support, especially from the huge Mt Kenya bloc, when you are fighting a figure as divisive as Raila,” says the MP.
Mr Murathe appears to share similar sentiments, although he maintains the succession politics is not a source of the President’s troubles: “As he journeys across the country, William (Ruto) seems to be the only competitor in the ring (in the 2022 presidential race), and that can be a very lonely affair. It is only natural for him to taunt Tinga (Mr Odinga) so as to appear to have an opponent and to spice up the upcoming contest. This is understandable and the President is not having a headache over that.”
Dr Edward Kisiang’ani, a commentator on political affairs, agrees with Mr Murathe — that Mr Kenyatta is not in a dilemma over the Ruto-Raila squabbles. According to the Kenyatta university lecturer, the President may not openly endorse or campaign for Mr Ruto’s candidature in the near future but will just sit back and let things evolve.
However, Dr Kisiang’ani says apparent public disinterest does not mean inactivity in private. “Everything he has done lately, and every move he has made, has been against the interest of his deputy. And Ruto and his supporters have publicly protested at this.”
The history and political science lecturer points out at the lifestyle audit initiated by the President, fight against corruption, renewed evictions of local communities from the Mau forest and his stern warning over apparent mismanagement of funds meant for maize farmers, mostly in the Rift Valley region.
Dr Kisiang’ani’s take is that State House operatives are trying to build a case ahead of 2022 by exposing the Deputy President’s perceived ills before the public — and in the long run punch holes in his candidature.
The don believes that for Mr Odinga, the mission is to leave a statesmanlike legacy as one who united the country through the Building Bridges initiative with President Kenyatta, but also one who blocked Mr Ruto from the presidency. “He (Mr Ruto) has twice denied Mr Odinga that chance and for a politician, this would a very fulfilling revenge.”
But noting that Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto have previously worked together, Mr Murathe does not rule out a possibility of the two politicians teaming up in future. It is a scenario that could be a dream come true for Mr Kenyatta — or maybe not.