By Standard Newspaper
Political rivalry in the Rift Valley between Deputy President William Ruto and his namesake who is the Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto burst at the seams when the governor declared without elaboration that the former Eldoret North MP was unfit to rule.
Reacting to weekend calls by the DP to the leaders of South Rift to isolate the Bomet governor, who also doubles up as the chairman of the Council of Governors, Isaac Ruto claimed the DP was a divisive leader who was sponsoring sabotage of the devolved units.
He also claimed there were clear signs that the DP was unfit to command, citing what he called â€œobvious reasonsâ€.
But the DPâ€™s office hit back with a dismissal of the governor as a â€˜village elderâ€™ seeking attention.
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who is grappling with rebellion in his county, has branded Deputy President William Ruto a roaming dictator who ought not to be trusted with the country’s leadership over what he called “obvious reasons”, with no elaboration whatsoever.
In a bare-knuckle attack that highlighted the rapid deterioration of relations between the two, the Council of Governors (CoG) chairman took issue with the DP’s remarks in Kericho County at the weekend when he urged local leaders to shun the Bomet governor who is critical of the Jubilee government.
“Instead of the DP concentrating on uniting Kenyans and finding ways to address their grievances, he is busy sabotaging counties and sponsoring wrangles among the country’s leadership,” Governor Ruto said.
“Contrary to his calls to leaders to disassociate with me, I advise Kenyans to shun him (DP),” he told The Standard on phone from Sweden where he is on official duty.
“His leadership will be disastrous for this country due to the obvious reasons Kenyans know. His continuous divisive advice is not healthy for this nation. The DP is a roaming dictator Kenyans should take note of,” the governor said.
The latest spat was triggered by utterances at a forum where some MPs from Rift Valley who are close allies of the DP openly suggested that Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso is being groomed to take on Ruto in the fight for the Bomet governor’s seat in the next elections.
The governor, who did not have kind words for the DP, wondered how leaders could spend a whole day discussing his conduct instead of focusing their energies on matters affecting wananchi, like drought, disease and poverty.
In reference to the DP’s intention to contest the presidency in 2022, the governor faulted Ruto’s leadership style, terming it “ruinous”.
“As a leader, we expect him to try to see what is happening across the country and remedy the situation but no, he (DP) is busy planting the seeds of discord among leaders, especially from the Rift Valley,” said the governor.
The CoG chairperson went on: “What more evidence do Kenyans need to realise the DP is a dictator? He wants leaders to take his word as final. Anyone with a divergent opinion is a rebel. He is asking leaders not to associate with me. Is this not the height of dictatorship?” Ruto asked.
“MPs from the Rift Valley region have become his sycophants and cannot make independent decisions,” he added.
Yesterday, Office of the Deputy President’s spokesperson David Mugonyi said:
“We are not going to engage in a merry-go-round with a village elder who suffers from attention disorder and who is seeking relevance.”
The DP had warned Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, who is the governor’s close ally, against associating with him, lest he finds himself “locked in the store” during the 2017 elections.
He said Prof Chepkwony is a gentleman and should concentrate in serving his constituents instead of being “fooled by someone who would lead him to lose touch with voters in the next election”.
At the meeting, MPs Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central), Benjamin Lagat (Ainamoi), Bernard Sang (Bureti), Jackson Rop (Kipkelion West), Erick Keter (Belgut), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East) and Kericho Woman Representative Hellen Chepkwony told the governor to respect Ruto.
The legislators said they would support the newly formed Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), which Governor Ruto has dismissed, and also back Ruto’s presidential bid come 2022.
Yesterday, Governor Ruto said the dispute between Tililbei Water Company, which supplies water to more than 40,000 Bureti residents in Kericho County, and Bomet Water Company, which had warned it would disconnect supply from its main source in Itare over a Sh39 million bill, had been solved.
Governor Ruto asked the DP to steer clear of the matter, as it was not affecting MPs or the national government but the counties of Bomet and Kericho.
“There is no cause for panic, or worries. We sorted out this matter with Chepkwony long before the DP thought it is of urgency. It has been on for the last two years over unpaid electricity bills,” he explained.
“Though the two companies have been in constant touch, we stepped in as the two governors concerned. There will be no disconnection; and it does not require the intervention of MPs,” he explained.
He said instead of the DP asking Chepkwony not to talk to him, he should have come up with a solution on how to offset the outstanding electricity bill.
“It means the DP has no agenda for the region, especially the South Rift, and is only interested in engaging in empty politics.”
During the Saturday meeting, which Governor Ruto did not attend, his county government came under criticism for allegedly issuing an ultimatum to Tililbei Water Company to offset the bills or face disconnection.
The DP asked Chepkwony to intervene over the matter by talking to his Bomet counterpart.
Ruto promised to intervene if the two counties at the centre of the stand-off failed to reach an amicable solution.
The DP and Rift Valley leaders, who accompanied him, labelled Governor Ruto a “troublemaker and a person who is rocking the Jubilee boat from within”.