DP Ruto and Nanok make up with eye on 2022
When Deputy President William Ruto stood up to receive Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok during the homecoming ceremony for Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo in Uasin Gishu early this month, it was not just a small matter of showing respect but a clear indication of a relationship blossoming between the two men.
Mr Ruto and Mr Nanok, a governor elected on the Orange Democratic Movement party ticket and hitherto one of opposition Raila Odinga’s valued political asset, were on the extreme ends before the last elections, but the speed at which they have bridged the political gulf between them has left tongues wagging in North Rift region.
The two have lately been attending each other’s functions without fail.
Mr Nanok has accompanied Mr Ruto to many functions in Uasin Gishu while the DP attended, for the first time, the Turkana cultural festival in Lodwar last week.
The governor immediately reciprocated by attending the launch of the Eldoret City Marathon on Sunday where Mr Ruto was the guest runner.
Turkana South MP James Lomenen, who has been one of Mr Nanok’s staunchest critics, now wants the camaraderie to be taken to a higher level. The second-term lawmaker last week pushed for the two-term governor to be picked as Mr Ruto’s running mate in 2022.
“Nanok has steered the county well. When he is done with his two terms, he is qualified to be your running mate,” Mr Lomenen told the DP in Lodwar.
Mr Ruto did not directly address the request on Friday, but he indicated that he recognised Mr Nanok’s leadership qualities and had pushed for him to be retained as the Council of Governors chairman last year despite the Jubilee Party having a majority of the members in the club.
On his part, Mr Nanok said he had decided to work with the DP and the Jubilee Government, adding that time for politicking had ended.
“I made a decision to work with the government immediately after the repeat elections. I accepted that Kenyans had made their decision and we had to respect that,” said the governor, who was last December picked for the council’s top seat despite pressure to relinquish it to Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya of Jubilee. Then, it was claimed that Mr Ruto had stuck with Mr Nanok against the wishes of other Jubilee leaders who wanted Mr Mvurya.
On Tuesday, Loima MP Jeremiah Lomorukai said that as Turkana County leaders mostly from Orange Democratic Movement Party, they were interested in building a relationship with the DP after the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Mr Lomorukai said it was time to work with those in government to ensure development in the region that has lagged behind for many years.
“We have decided to unite and work with DP Ruto because we feel he understands our plight as pastoralists and he directly represents the entire North Rift in government,” said the first term lawmaker.
Mr Lomorukai, who was first elected as Turkwel Ward MCA on the defunct URP ticket, before joining ODM to vie for the parliamentary seat, said that the DP was a longtime friend of the Turkana people.
“The Turkana people really wanted to vote for Jubilee Party but Governor Nanok pushed most people to vote for the opposition. After the opposition’s loss, Mr Nanok was the first person to embrace Jubilee as he was the only opposition governor to attend the swearing-in of the President and his Deputy,” said the MP.
Political pundits say the two leaders need each other. “Ruto is galvanising support for his State House bid. This camaraderie will give him a much needed boost. Nanok could also be looking at his future in the next government,” said Mr Philip Chebunet, an Eldoret-based political analyst.