By Dorothy Jebet
Who would have thought that NASA presidential hopeful Raila Odinga would ever be embraced by voters in Rift Valley again, after the fallout with the then Rift Valley kingpin William Ruto?
The two teamed up for the 2007 election. Raila had a massive following that saw voters cast the ballot for him to the last man.
He won that year’s election, but he was robbed of his victory in the dying minutes of vote tallying. Consequently, that defilement of democracy saw President Kibaki sworn in at night surrounded by his close allies.
Mayhem broke out and that was one of the most painful chapters in Kenya’s history.
Although Raila and Ruto later joined Kibaki in the Grand Coalition government, their friendship ended in 2009.
Ruto was then Agriculture minister while Raila was the Prime Minister. When the maize scandal broke out, the then Eldoret North MP was relieved of his Cabinet duties, something he did not take lightly.
Ruto was later charged at the ICC together with Uhuru Kenyatta and four others, popularly known as the Ocampo Six, for their alleged involvement in the 2007-08 bloody tribal clashes.
Ruto blamed Raila for his problems and these claims were echoed by several other leaders from the region. When people are constantly presented with a lie, they eventually believe it as the gospel truth.
Later it emerged Raila was not responsible for Ruto’s problems, but the damage was already done.
Subsequently, the region turned against a man they had once adopted and nicknamed arap Mibei, which means son of the lake.
In 2013, Jubilee used the ICC cases to whip up ethnic emotions and paint Raila as a traitor. Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi coined the term ‘Tyranny of Numbers’, further alienating Raila from his Rift Valley vote base.
The ICC became the binding factor between Ruto and Uhuru.
First-forward to 2017 and the embers of the ‘Tyranny of Numbers’ have been extinguished. JP is traversing the country trying to reach out to communities it didn’t want to engage in 2013.
Now that the ICC debacle is behind them, they have nothing substantial to tell the voters. They tried to resurrect it recently to win votes, but it fell flat.
Now a substantial chunk of the Kalenjin community know better than to put their collective trust on JP. Why? Because they were promised heaven on earth but got a furnace that pulverised their economic muscle.
Farmers have been reduced to beggars in the short time Jubilee has been in power. When UhuRuto took power, Rift Valley was the country’s breadbasket.
Maize farmers were a happy lot. Wheat farming flourished. Milk production was at its highest.
The President’s family, through Brookside, bust into the scene and bought out milk companies owned by the residents. This left the region with no say on milk prices. A monopolistic Brookside started to dictate the price and drastically cut it, reducing farmers’ income.
The region was stabbed in the back again when its sons and daughters were sacked from government. After a hue and cry, more were given jobs, but this did not endear the people to Jubilee.
The litany of promises Jubilee gave to the people in exchange for their support remained just that, promises.
The DP’s hostility and incessant hostility drove his namesake to NASA’s warm embrace, where he is one of the five principals. He left with his supporters.
Gideon, by virtue of his position as Kanu chairman, is succeeding in alienating Baringo county from Jubilee.
All said and done, half of Rift Valley hopes that all their problems will find a solution in a NASA government. The residents no longer want to play ping pong with their future.
Raila is their safest pair of hands