By Ben Leshau
After backlash from a section of Maasai leaders from Narok over Maasai Mau forest, Deputy President William Ruto appears to have changed tack over the thorny issue.
During the burial of retired politician Samuel Koriata at Ololung’a over recently, the DP tried to ward off the impression that he was siding with the Mau settlers majority of whom are Kipsigis who form his voting bloc.
Despite Jubilee producing four out of the six MPs, majority of the MCAs and Governor, opposition leader Raila Odinga has commanded the county in the Presidential votes into which DP Ruto is now trying to make forays.
On Mau issue, DP Ruto struck a risky balance by not announcing evictions of the Mau settlers and instead opted for dialogue with local leaders in a bid to find a lasting solution over the emotive issue.
“Conservation of Mau forest is important for all of us Kenyans. It is not only for the good of a certain community or individual. Let us not politicize this matter. Instead, come we sit down and discuss this matter,” said DP Ruto.
DP Ruto also took the opportunity to list down ongoing and planned projects being undertaken by the Jubilee administration in the county.
He cited ongoing road projects such as Narok-Sekenani, Narok-Kisiriri, Ololung’a-Olmekenyu, Kilgoris-Abossi which,he said, were ongoing.
He also revealed that the government has managed to increase the number of people in the county connected to the grid from 8,000 in 2013 to 40,000 and that Sh1 billion has been topped up to the county to connect 20,000 others to electricity.
The DP said the Maasai especially from Narok have benefited from the top Government appointments than any other county in the country.
“Narok is the only county with three Principal Secretaries (PSs), Narok also has over 10 parastatal heads. This county is at the heart of Government,” said the DP.
Speaking during the event, Maa leaders led by area Governor Samuel Tunai and his Kajiado counterpart Joseph ole Lenku, announced that the Maa-speaking counties shall support DP Ruto’s 2022 Presidential bid.
“Deputy President has been here with us anytime we need him. He has launched several projects which we have never seen for the over 50 years this country gained independence. If he can do this as Deputy it means he can do even more when he got to the higher office,” noted Governor Tunai.
He said as Maa Governors among them Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal have resolved that they will throw their weight behind DP Ruto’s bid.
Lenku hailed the DP for what he termed as consistency in launching Government projects across the country saying he has demonstrated that he got what it takes come 2022.
The ODM legislators led by Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina and Narok North’s Moitalel ole Kenta, however, put the DP to task over Maasai Mau conservation.
“We know you (DP)has the potential to sort out this Mau issue once and for all. It is high time the Government acts to save our future generation,” said Ledama.
Mr Kenta on his part said the DP was not sincere in resolving the Mau forest issue as his ally the Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony has put a case at ICC challenging the eviction of illegal settlers in phase two sections of the Mau with over 40,000 people.
The legislator also asked the Governor to withdraw the case to allow dialogue over the thorny Mau forest matter.