- Mr Ngunjiri notes that the peace enjoyed in the Rift Valley is a product of the good working relationship between President Kenyatta and Dr Ruto.
- Former assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria interprets the ongoing developments as a strategy by the rebelling MPs to paint the President in bad light.
In American political parlance, “second term blues” or “second term curse” is applied to a President’s shackled final tenure in office.
It is a period that generally bears depressed political and economic success, sometimes reducing a once powerful president to a lame duck who has lost authority over allies and opponents.
Slightly over one year since he was sworn in, and three years to the next election, President Uhuru Kenyatta has been forced to assert his authority.
Last week, in the face of grumbles from some perceived allies, most prominent among them Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, questioning his development record in the Mt Kenya region, the President told off the critics as washenzi (fools) and told them to let him continue with his 'Big Four' agenda across the country.
Quite unusually, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, an erstwhile ally of President Kenyatta and now aligned to Deputy President William Ruto, asked the President to resign if he was tired of leading the country before organising a demonstration against the “washenzi” remark.
Last October, Mr Kenyatta warned leaders in his base that he was not a lame duck president and would have a say on his succession despite the early 2022 campaigns.
President Kenyatta has only two experiences from his predecessors, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki, to draw lessons from.
His father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, died while in office in 1978 at a time when there were no term limits for the presidency.
Except for the brazen defiance of Mr Ngunjiri and Mr Kuria, other politicians from the President’s backyard are playing their cards cautiously.
Mr Kuria has, however, since caved in to pressure and offered unreserved apologies to the President for publicly humiliating him.
Speaking on New Year's Eve at Thika Stadium, the outspoken MP had sensationally claimed that Mt Kenya region had been marginalised.
He said the President was busy commissioning projects elsewhere but only issuing certificates to rehabilitated alcohol addicts when he visited Kiambu County.
Mr Kuria is not your ordinary legislator. He is MP of the current and first President’s constituency.
Ideally, Gatundu symbolises the seat of political power in Mt Kenya region and rebellion that originates from here is inconceivable and most embarrassing to the President.
This partly explains why Mr Kuria’s latest action has attracted a lot of fury among the President’s backers and the vocal politician’s resultant swift about-turn.
However, Mr Ngunjiri has maintained his stand.
The MP recently claimed the President had been misled by ODM leader Raila Odinga, with whom they buried the political hatchet in March last year.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu believes the Bahati legislator is acting out of political opportunism, “with the hope that (Dr) Ruto can help him to split the Kikuyu residing in Rift Valley from those in Central and thereby get crowned as kingpin of Rift Valley Kikuyu”.
Bahati is a cosmopolitan constituency within Nakuru Town in the wider Rift Valley region.
It therefore makes sense for Mr Ngunjiri, whose voters are multiethnic, to play the political tune of the region, which is currently Ruto-leaning.
Although they hail from Mt Kenya region, the ‘Diaspora Kikuyu’ residing in the Rift Valley have previously expressed the need to play politics in tune with their surroundings, and not necessarily alongside their kin in Central Kenya.
Mr Ngunjiri, who fashions himself as a Rift Valley politician, argues that his kinsmen in Central Kenya are insensitive to the special needs of the ‘Diaspora’.
The legislator notes that the peace enjoyed in the Rift Valley is a product of the good working relationship between President Kenyatta and Dr Ruto, a scenario that he will guard jealously to ensure the status quo remains.
But Mr Wambugu thinks otherwise: “My namesake (Bahati MP) is laying the ground to exit from the President’s wings. But he has miscalculated badly. He and others are assuming that His Excellency’s (President Kenyatta’s) influence will wane, but they need to reflect on (Mr) Kuria’s apology this afternoon (Thursday) to realise just how wrong they all are.”