Kenya: Gideon Ally to Lead Bbi Rallies in Ruto's Backyard

21 January 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta has isolated Deputy President William Ruto and his brigade from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaigns in the Rift Valley, picking Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos to lead the popularisation of the drive in the region.

And the surprise move to choose Mr Tolgos, an opponent of DP Ruto and an ally of Kanu supremo Gideon Moi, is already rattling Jubilee Party bigwigs in the region.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who represents the same county, said he was not aware Mr Tolgos had been picked, adding they were planning their own BBI meetings.

"We are not aware of any other BBI meetings or groups in the region. If Tolgos is leading another team, they are welcome to join us or to share with us their programmes," said Mr Murkomen.

The governor has turned out to be the leading voice in support of the BBI in a region where most leaders have opposed or reluctantly embraced it after DP Ruto's initial opposition to it.

BBI SECRETARIAT

The President chose Mr Tolgos last week after they met at State House in Mombasa.

His endorsement came as a boost for the county boss after he was isolated by DP Ruto's allies, who have often accused him of being aloof and failing to fully back the DP's 2022 ambitions.

Mr Tolgos has recently endeared himself to the President after issuing an apology to him for "insults" directed at the Head of State by Rift leaders for his "handshake" with ODM leader Raila Odinga and his stance on the BBI.

He has also hosted Mr Odinga several times in the county. The governor has been tasked with bringing together leaders in the region who are pro-BBI and leading the group that will coordinate its promotion in the region.

He will also be in charge of the BBI Rift Valley secretariat that will comprise leaders from each of the counties in the region.

"Right now, we do not have specific names of people to join the secretariat, but I will meet with the other governors, MPs, former lawmakers and opinion leaders, and we will have a discussion on that. We want to have an all-inclusive team," said Mr Tolgos, who is serving his second term.

MAJOR RALLY

He said they would have to first agree on when to hold a consultative BBI meeting similar to the ones already held in Kisii and Kakamega.

"I would like to tell our people that we should not be left out of this BBI process," said the soft-spoken governor.

He said they want the BBI to address issues affecting residents in the region. "There are issues we want addressed like land problems, historical injustices, maize, tea and milk issues. We want to deal with the BBI first. There is nothing about 2022 politics right now. People will go back and seek votes later after BBI," he added.

The other leading proponents of the BBI in the region are Kanu leader Gideon Moi, party secretary-general Nick Salat and Cherang'any MP Joshua Kutuny.

Mr Salat told the Nation the Rift Valley is part of Kenya and there was no way it could be left out in what he described as "the country's rejuvenation process".

Mr Kutuny, a fierce critic of the DP, disclosed that they will be meeting in the course of this week to plan a rally that he said will be held in Nakuru.

WASTE OF TIME

But DP Ruto's allies in the region said the BBI had been turned into a venture to waste public resources.

"BBI is a total waste of resources, but we welcome them in Eldoret or any other part of Rift Valley so that we tell them the truth," said Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono by phone.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei and Turbo MP Janet Sitienei questioned why politicians were campaigning for the BBI report whereas all Kenyans had accepted it.

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