By GIDEON KETER @arapgketer
Wealthy Mount Kenya businessmen have joined forces with influential politicians connected to the top echelons of power in a scheme to ensure Baringo senator Gideon Moi succeeds President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Star can authoritatively report.
As part of the high stakes plot to scuttle Deputy President William Ruto’s ambition, some Jubilee MPs, mostly from Rift Valley, have begun warming up to the Baringo senator.
The team strategizing how to re-arrange the succession and switch the central Kenya vote from the DP reportedly comprises of two principal secretaries, a former governor, a sitting governor and a member of an influential political family.
The clique has held several meetings in the past few months, the last being at a high-end hotel situated along the boundary of Nairobi and Kiambu counties.
The two PSs head strategic ministries while the governor who mostly chairs the meetings, and recently hosted one at his rural home, has not had a rosy relationship with Ruto.
But the Kanu chairman and son of former President Daniel Arap Moi is yet to formally declare his bid for the top seat despite common belief and hints that his name will be on the ballot in 2022.
Kanu insiders told the Star that a Jubilee governor from South Rift, two sitting MPs from Nakuru and Baringo counties, and a former governor aspirant from North Rift have also started working with Gideon.
The businessmen who want to influence the Uhuru succession see Gideon as their “club member who will secure their business empires if he is at the helm”.
By comparison, they view DP Ruto — the hustler turned millionaire — as an emerging threat and “intruder in the club out to upset the status quo” and who will not cater for “their business interests”.
They claim that in just five years that Jubilee has been in power, Ruto has aligned himself to, and become the patron of, a new crop of young businessmen who have amassed wealth and taken up major government contracts at their expense.
Several sitting MPs have also been roped into the plot which is now being linked to the handshake deal.
Last week, Gideon told off those criticising him for shielding them from seeing his father that they should keep him out of the 2022 politics.
He dismissed those criticising the handshake and advised them to focus on supporting Uhuru’s Big Four agenda, adding that he was “deep inside” the handshake deal.
Tiaty MP William Kamket told the Star that “all friends of Gideon who have the interest of the nation at heart are meeting across the country”. He said Gideon will run for president in 2022.
The Kanu legislator and close ally of Gideon was among those who accompanied opposition chief Raila Odinga when he visited retired President Moi at his Kabarak home last month.
“Kanu did not have a presidential candidate in the last three elections — 2007, 2013 and 2017 — but will have a candidate in 2022 and that is none other than Gideon Moi,” Kamket told the Star categorically in an interview at Parliament.
During the burial of the late Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim two weeks ago, Gideon speaking mainly in Kalenjin told the gathering that a number of MPs who had attended the burial ceremony were supporting the DP during the day and supporting him during the night.
“You have voted here and you said Jubilee won but wait until we vote during the night so that you see,” said Gideon in response to National Assembly speaker Moses Cheboi’s statement that of the 87 MPs who attended the send off ceremony, 85 had said they support Ruto.
Cheboi was previously elected on Kanu ticket. Speaking in Kalenjin, the deputy speaker said he was still undecided on who to support between the DP and Gideon.
“I was still undecided, I was still fifty-fifty on whether it is arap Ruto or Gideon,” he said.
On Friday, Jubilee’s Moiben MP Silas Tiren who of late has been seen close to Gideon could not deny or confirm if he has shifted his support to him.
The second term MP is among those who received Raila when he visited retired President Moi at his Kabarak home, in Nakuru county, last month.
“I have no problem with Gideon. He is a good leader and nobody should be stopped from running for any position. Competition is fair and from there we will get the right candidate,” Tiren told the Star on phone.
The legislator fell out with the DP when he was forced to relinquish his position as the chairman of the National Assembly’s Agriculture committee after he was elected contrary to the party line up fronted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the DP.
Tiren said he supports political reforms and cautioned those abusing others who do not share the same political ideas and beliefs.
But it is Kamket who hit the nail on the head: “It is good for Kenyans to know that we have started the formation. We have approached our friends and they are equally preparing the ground for a Gideon presidency. He has an equal chance. There is no defending champion, it is an open contest as the two protagonists (Raila and Uhuru) are retiring.”
The legislator, who has proposed radical changes to the 2010 Constitution, including the creation of the position of Prime Minister said: “all anti-Ruto forces are meeting day and night and before September (this year) you will see major developments”.
“The proverbial night of the long knives is here with us. All the toes he has stepped on and the people who have been mistreated are regrouping. He was being fattened and the day is around the corner,” Kamket said.
Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat said several politicians now support Gideon, adding “that idea of (Uhuru) paying the debt does not hold the water”.
He said although Kanu is yet to formally announce its Presidential candidate for the 2022 General Election, “friends of Gideon were free to meet and plan how to make the ambition real”.
“Kanu is not sleeping that is why already our friends on the other side are in panic mode. We are yet to formally announce that we will field a presidential candidate but you can see how they are popularising our party and Gideon,” Salat told the Star on phone.
“Many people are ready to walk with us along this journey, they are meeting to share ideas, just watch the space you will soon see major developments,” he added.
Salat also claimed that several sitting Jubilee MPs “have started approaching Gideon to see how they can work together”.