The change of power after the 2022 General Election threw the Gusii community into turmoil. The community lost key leaders who acted as links between the government and locals.
Like the biblical Israelites who found themselves thrown into disarray after losing their leader, Moses, until they found solace in Joshua, Abagusii is searching for a leader to negotiate on their behalf for development projects.
In the recent past, leaders from the community have been meeting with different Cabinet Secretaries in the hope that their collective approach will appeal to the country's leadership for development.
This strategy is different from the previous dispensation where the community depended upon a de-facto leader to link them to the top country's leadership without going through middlemen.
Their de-facto leader acted as the spokesman who negotiated for development on behalf of the region.
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Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, and governors Simba Arati (Kisii) and Amos Nyaribo (Nyamira) have been leading delegations to various ministries, drawing mixed reactions from residents.
Some political observers have questioned whether their moves will bear fruit.
Last week alone, the leaders visited Cabinet Secretaries among them Prof Kithure Kindiki (Interior), Mr Kipchumba Murkomen (Roads and Transport), Mr Zachary Njeru (Lands and Housing), Ms Alice Wahome (Water) and Ms Susan Nakhumicha (Health).
The leaders accompanied by lawmakers from Kisii and Nyamira counties have been meeting the top government officials with the hope of negotiating for the completion of stalled projects and the initiation of new ones.
MPs Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango), Zaheer Jhanda (Nyaribari Chache), Dr Daniel Manduku (Nyaribari Masaba), Innocent Obiri (Bobasi), Alfah Miruka (Bomachoge Chache), Anthony Kibagendi (Kitutu Chache South) and Japheth Nyakundi (Kitutu Chache North) are among legislators who have been attending the meetings.
Mr Obadiah Barongo (Bomachoge Borabu), Clive Gisairo (Kitutu Masaba), Charles Onchoke (Bonchari), Steve Mogaka (West Mugirango), Patrick Osero (Borabu), Woman Reps Jerusha Momanyi from Nyamira and Kisii’s Dorice Aburi have also been attending the meetings.
Others are nominated MPs Essy Okenyuri, Irene Mayaka and Gloria Orwoba.
During former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime, former Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang'i is said to have lobbied for the community's development. This saw the community benefit from multi-billion shilling projects in the security, education, water, infrastructure and health sectors.
While some locals say the current crop of leaders have turned to the approach because the community lacks a clear spokesperson to negotiate for development directly from the President, Mr Arati told the Nation that the new move has been necessitated by the need for unity of purpose.
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“There is no vacuum in Gusii leadership. The truth is that we have deployed a different approach in pushing for development in our region. This is a new show of unity among us despite our political affiliations,” said Mr Arati.
The Kisii governor added that concerted efforts are required for any meaningful development to be achieved in Gusii and that is why they are working with the national government.
“We are running two different governments (national and county) which have their own allocations. Our approach to the national government is based on the need to have a common style in pushing for Abagusii’s agenda,” said Mr Arati.
CS Murkomen said that they held the meeting with leaders from Kisii and Nyamira counties to discuss matters of infrastructure.
“We shall make sure that all stalled projects are completed soon. We agreed to work together with county governments and MPs to ensure that we provide proper oversight, enhance accountability, avoid duplication and ensure that the people get value for money invested by the government,” said Mr Murkomen.
CS Wahome said the delegation from Nyamira and Kisii counties engaged her ministry on how to improve water provision in the region.
“I have recognised the great role played by our Members of Parliament from the two houses and the county governments in ensuring that there is development. I have also encouraged the leaders to champion water harvesting in every household ahead of the long rains and also ensure that trees that are of economic value other than eucalyptus that is depleting our water resource are planted,” said Ms Wahome.
She added, “The ministry shall ensure that boreholes are rehabilitated and locals trained on the maintenance of the water points.”
Mr Jhanda said during their meeting with Prof Kindiki it was agreed that security officers from the region need more resources to enable them to tackle crime.
“The CS will be touring Kisii soon. We have agreed that all lawmakers in the region will provide motorbikes to security personnel in their constituencies to help during emergency response,” said Mr Jhanda.
He said that they also expressed the need to have more police stations, officers and vehicles in the region.
“Of importance too is the need to reshuffle security officers who have overstayed in the region,” said Mr Jhanda.
Mr Nyakundi, the Kitutu Chache North MP, said CS Murkomen assured them of the completion of the Kaplong - Keroka - Kisii road which is under repair.
He added that at the meeting with their Water CS, they deliberated on how the Kegati Water Project can be expanded to cover more households.
Ms Okenyuri said the Roads CS and his team committed to fast-track completion of stalled road projects in the region.
Mr Mogaka, the West Mugirango MP, said he was keen to have stalled roads in his constituency completed.
“Of particular interest to me are the Sameta-Igare-Mosora, Itumbe-Motonto and Kebuko-Nyangusu, Nyangusu-Nyamache-Nyacheki road projects which were commissioned during the last regime,” said Bobasi MP, Mr Obiri.