In a surprising twist of political narrative, David Ndii, a high-profile Kenyan economic and political strategist, remains in the country despite his vociferous 2018 vow to leave should William Samoei Ruto ascend to the presidency. This proclamation was made in the wake of the tenure of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and was rooted in Ndii’s aversion to a Ruto-led administration.
Ndii had previously been quoted in the Nairobi News expressing his deep-seated reservations about Ruto’s leadership, “I am making plans just in case. I have no intention of living in a country governed by a neurotic megalomaniac,” an insinuation that underscored the animosity between the two figures.
During his public denouncement, Ndii served as the lead strategist for the now-disbanded opposition conglomerate, the National Super Alliance (NASA). This collective included a myriad of parties such as Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement party, and others. Following the dissolution of NASA, some of these parties formed the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance, while others, like Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi, allied with Ruto in his presidential campaign, forging the United Democratic Alliance and eventually the Kenya Kwanza government.
Ndii’s break with NASA was allegedly precipitated by the controversial inauguration of Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president,’ an event that reportedly unsettled Ndii, leading him to threaten a mass walkout from NASA.
As of May 2023, despite his earlier vehement condemnation of Ruto, Ndii has ironically found himself in a position of significant influence within the Ruto administration as the President’s chief economic adviser, a role he has held for approximately ten months. President Ruto, who seemingly overlooked their previous contentious relationship, appointed Ndii as the Chairperson of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors in October 2022.
In his new role, Ndii has faced criticism for his tacit endorsement of President Ruto’s proposed 2023 Finance Bill taxes, which critics argue disproportionately burdens ordinary Kenyans while providing relief to the wealthy. Ndii has also been noted for his frequent criticism of his former political employers, underscoring the adage, “there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, just aligned interests.”