How Ruto is eating Raila's lunch in Kisii
President William Ruto is slowly eating into the huge support hitherto enjoyed by the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader, Raila Odinga, in Gusii.
Dr Ruto was largely unpopular in the Gusii region, especially during periods preceding the last elections and soon thereafter
However, the political tide in the region seems to be shifting toward the President’s ruling party.
Dr Ruto’s charm offensive into the region seems to have been received well by local leaders, especially those in the opposition, who eschewed the Maandamano calls by Mr Odinga.
President Ruto’s promise for massive infrastructural projects for Gusii seems to be doing the trick.
That not even a single elected leader from Kisii and Nyamira has identified with Mr Odinga’s nationwide protests has sent a message that the opposition chief could be losing grip of the community’s support.
Additionally, the leaders from Gusii under Azimio did not join the former Prime Minister in his visit to Kisii, on the same day Dr Ruto was in the backyard.
Both President Ruto and Mr Odinga were in Kisii on Friday, but in different functions that were only 30 kilometers apart.
Dr Ruto was at Getacho Primary School grounds in Nyaribari Masaba Constituency, where the thanksgiving ceremony of Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu was taking place.
On the other side of the Nyaribari hills was Mr Odinga who was attending the burial of Truphena Moraa Ontegi at Nyanturubo village in Nyaribari Chache Constituency.
Moraa is the mother of former councilor and Nyaribari Chache ODM Chairman Jackson Ontegi.
Kisii and Nyamira Counties had more leaders elected under Mr Odinga’s Azimio coalition compared to the ruling alliance, Kenya Kwanza.
All throughout President Ruto’s visit, Kisii Governor Simba Arati told the Head-of-State that he will work with him for the sake of the county’s development.
Mr Arati went ahead to say that the country can only have one President.
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His party leader, Mr Odinga, does not recognise Dr Ruto as the country’s top leader.
The governor noted that he will talk to his party leader over demonstrations.
Speaking during the homecoming ceremony of Education CS Ezekiel Machogu in Kisii, Mr Arati said the talk will be purely to enhance peace and develop the country.
"I will talk to Mr Odinga about the planned demos, we need to build our country and have a peaceful nation,” he said.
The governor said that in a football match, Kenya Kwanza and Azimio were in a game in which he said Dr Ruto won with a controversial goal.
“Your Excellency, we were in a match and even if you scored by the hand, it is a goal and you are the President," said Mr Arati.
Nyamira Governor and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Party Leader Amos Nyaribo also joined President Ruto in his tour of Gusii.
UPA is one of the parties in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.
Mr Nyaribo said he will not participate in the mass action called by Mr Odinga or any of his plans to pressure the government.
The Party, which has its roots in Gusii, has instead pledged to work with President Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza administration.