Explain your dalliance with President Ruto, opposition leaders tell Governor Paul Otuoma

 Paul Otuoma, William Ruto

Busia Governor Paul Otuoma (left) and President William Ruto during a past event.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Opposition leaders from Western region have challenged Busia Governor Paul Otuoma to explain his dalliance with President William Ruto.

This comes after the county boss hosted President Ruto at an interdenominational prayer meeting in Busia on May 28.

Dr Otuoma found himself on the receiving end during the homecoming ceremony of Budalangi MP Raphael Wanjala on Friday after Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leaders piled pressure on him to explain why he had chosen to work with President Ruto at a time when the opposition had launched an onslaught on the Kenyatta Kwanza administration for failing to deliver on its campaign promises to Kenyans.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi, Funyula MP Oundo Mudenyo and DAP-Kenya leader Eugene Wamalwa said the Azimio was ready to expel erring members who were elected on the coalition ticket in last year's elections and later switched camps to support the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Mr Mudenyo said they were concerned that in every election cycle, some leaders in Busia get close to Raila Odinga and use his name to win elections but later turn against him after winning seats.

Remain loyal

"We know them and we are tired of this trend. They have been doing this but now we are warning them to remain loyal to our party or leave and never come back to disrupt us in ODM," Mr Mudenyo said.

 He said as a staunch Catholic, he understands that one prays to God through Jesus Christ and not by sitting with senior government officials to have one's prayers heard.

"That is why I decided to go to my local Catholic church in Funyula last Sunday. Those who think they can reach God through Ruto are traitors," he said.

But Mr Otuoma dismissed his critics, saying his administration will work closely with the national government to implement key projects that will boost economic growth and create jobs for thousands of unemployed youth in Busia County.

Mr Otuoma hit out at politicians who accused him of betraying Raila Odinga, the leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, after he received President Ruto in Busia for prayers.

"I was elected by the people of Busia to promote development for the social and economic transformation of the region and I must work with the national government to ensure that this happens," Mr Otuoma said.

He said Busia had stagnated for the past 10 years because the previous governor did not work with the national government.

"I want to make it clear for the avoidance of doubt that I am fully behind Raila Odinga and our party ODM but for the sake of transforming Busia's economy, I have to work with the national government in the best interest of Busia residents. Criticising ourselves should not become a full-time obsession," said Otuoma.

"The fact that we are engaging the president to support our local development projects does not mean that we are disrespecting the political party that sponsored us for election. Why do western leaders look like traitors when they host the president but it is okay when he goes to Nyanza?" he asked.

He cited President Ruto's recent visit to Siaya County where he was hosted by Governor James Orengo and received by Nyanza opposition leaders including Senator Oburu Odinga.

When the President visited Busia on Sunday, he announced that the government would provide Sh1 billion for the construction of the Nasewa Export Processing Zone and another Sh100 million for the establishment of the Busia County Industrial Park, among other projects.

Development projects

County leaders from Western region said they would work closely with the Kenyatta administration, saying their decision was informed by the need to fast-track development projects in their regions.

Some of the Western Azimio governors who have pledged to work with President Ruto include Kakamega's Fernandes Barasa, Vihiga's Wilber Ottichilo and Trans Nzoia's George Natembeya.

They said the time for politics was over and they wanted to work with the government of the day to bring development to their people.

 Mr Osotsi said the Azimio opposition coalition was being weakened by its members who were working with President Ruto.

"Our people are being deceived into thinking that development can come by working with the President. How come Governor Otuoma has not received the shared revenue disbursements for development projects in Busia for the past four months, what development will a governor do without money for the counties?" he asked.

Mr Wamalwa said all opposition leaders should join hands and support their leader Mr Odinga in pressuring President Ruto to serve Kenyans better.

"When some of our members join hands with the government, it becomes difficult to move as a united front. We are closely monitoring the moves of each of our coalition members," he said.

Other projects that Dr Otuoma said would be implemented through his partnership with President Ruto are the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Scheme, the Lake Region Ring Road, the Busia-Kisumu dual carriageway and the opening of the Muluanda border post.

He noted that development projects of this magnitude cannot be secured without a good working relationship with the national government.