President Uhuru Kenyatta last evening shared his major successes and regrets in his 10-year rule in his final address to Mt Kenya residents.
The address, delivered in the form of an interview across all television and radio stations that broadcast in the vote-rich region, happened less than 48 hours to the August 9 General Election.
The interview has been viewed as his last stab against his deputy, William Ruto, who he has been campaigning against.
Dr Ruto’s messaging has been to rally the region, which recorded the highest turnout in 2017 when they sought re-election with President Kenyatta, to better the record with an even higher figure.
Dr Ruto has insisted that he was President Kenyatta’s loyal deputy, and that his boss’ move to side with his main challenger, Azimio flag bearer Raila Odinga, was a betrayal of the people who stuck with him.
The nine Mt Kenya counties — Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Laikipia, Meru and Nyandarua — collectively have 4.7 million votes.
For Dr Ruto, therefore, the bloc is an important one if he has any chance of hitting the 50 per cent plus one mark of the votes cast.
In his address yesterday, President Kenyatta avoided direct reference to Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto, but urged Mt Kenya voters to make a wise decision tomorrow.
“I do not want to campaign because that period is over, but you all know where my stand is. I am for the person looking after the welfare of the people, not his own selfish interests,” he said.
He said his only regret in his decade of leadership was the BBI failure and the rate at which propaganda and corruption had entrenched in the country.
“I really regret that propaganda and lies have become so entrenched that we lacked the opportunity to get to where we wanted to but I am hopeful that the plans will come to pass.
“I would have been happier if the handshake did not generate the insults it did as it was meant to pacify the nation which it has done,” he said.
The President said he was still hopeful that BBI would be implemented in future. “I hope the next government will help fight corruption fully to improve the lives of Kenyans and especially in the counties.
“For other things, I say there’s no human who is God or an angel, and those I may have offended, kindly know I do not wake up with the intention to harm anyone and forgive me,” he said.
He, however, cited the prevailing peace in the country, infrastructure development — particularly roads, railway and other amenities — as his biggest successes.
“The journey has not been easy, but I thank God that I have been able to drive this country that far despite all the challenges faced therein. I began my political journey in 2002 when I contested against the late President Mwai Kibaki where I lost and accepted the results and embraced the work of the opposition which I handled with much respect to the government of the time,” he said.
“Our people, we cannot repeat the journey we’ve been through in 2007 but some of you opposed. I said we shall not forget but we shall forgive them and move forward for the sake of the country. I left the country to attend to the ICC case and came back.”
The President said he had no regrets about the handshake, saying it had helped ease the tension following the disputed 2017 elections.
“In 2017, we had another election, and the tension came back and all of you, especially those living in Nairobi, remember how it was. I decided just like I did in 2013, I will shake hands with these people and the tension went down and the country resumed a state of calmness,” he said.
He went on: “Through my own means I talked to the African Union, and they gave some people jobs and we have been peaceful. All I am proud of is that I managed to maintain peace till the last minute at 6pm, Saturday evening. Now it’s up to the IEBC to take us forward.”
President Kenyatta said that even with all the challenges, he had built more roads than all the past governments and revamped the old railway that “had never been worked on since the independence”, strengthening the country’s image at a global scale.
He added that he also built and equipped hospitals, broadened democracy, established industrial parks and widened fibre network for the youth to access job opportunities.
“I vowed to protect Kenyan lives and property and anyone attempting to bring chaos will not be allowed the opportunity as they will be dealt with according to the law.
The public will not be incited by anyone, they shall be allowed to vote and go on with their business without distraction,” he said.
At the same time, Mr Kenyatta said his critics would one day realise that the handshake was for the good of the country and “BBI for our people”.
“I am not going anywhere. It is this seat that I am leaving for another person. My word to you is, do not accept to be divided. If we were to all agree in one voice and remain united, we shall go far,” he said.
He went on: “I am not going anywhere. I’m still Kenyan. I am only changing my address. We shall continue being together as you know the elders may wake up tomorrow and send me to do or solve something.”
Mr Kenyatta said he hoped the next government would help fight corruption and improve the lives of Kenyans.
Before the address, some of Mr Kenyatta’s critics informed IEBC via Social media that the President intended to violate the requirement that candidates and political parties desist from political campaigns 48 hours to the polls.
“Dear Chebukati, Azimio chairman intends to violate this law today. I have annexed the evidence of the intention. I hereby formally inform you of that intention and if the intention is actualised, please take action,” Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata shared on Twitter.
However, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati while addressing journalists at the Bomas of Kenya said President Kenyatta is not a candidate and was free to make his speeches or any announcements.
The official campaigns period started on June 7 after the IEBC completed the candidates’ registration process and ended yesterday at 6pm.