Kisii ‘handshake’: Governor Simba Arati, Senator Richard Onyonka bury the hatchet

Kisii Governor Simba Arati and Senator Richard Onyonka

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula (centre) with Kisii Governor Simba Arati (left) and Senator Richard Onyonka. The two county leaders announced a ceasefire to end a long political stalemate. 

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula on Sunday brokered a truce between Kisii Governor Simba Arati and Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka.

Governor Arati and Mr Onyonka have been at loggerheads for the past year despite belonging to the same party - the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Addressing worshippers during a fundraiser at St Agatha Nyamiobo Catholic Church in Bonchari Constituency, the two leaders announced a truce to close a chapter of a long political fallout.

Mr Wetangula said it was absurd that the two leaders were at loggerheads yet they were campaigned together for the 2022 general elections.

"I beg you, like your father or big brother, please agree to walk together, unite and work for the people of Kisii. Political fights are always there, people even run against their blood brothers, but when the politics is over, they go back to work," the National Assembly Speaker said as he warned that 2027 is still far away for leaders to start playing politics.

He explained that political leaders fight in public during the day, but at night they retreat to their private rooms where they even share tea.

"You young man who throws stones because of Arati or Onyonka and you end up hurting your brother, now know that they can meet and talk," Mr Wetangula warned.

The speaker said political rivalry in the counties could hurt citizens the most.

"You were like twins during the campaigns. I stand before these believers and our people to beseech you to agree to work together and work for them... In the future, during elections, you can have time to fight, but not now when you're needed to work for your people," said Mr Wetangula.

The speaker said the bickering between county and national leaders was a disservice to the country.

"We are a unitary state that has to work in sync regardless of which party we were all elected under, so let there be healthy discussions," he said.

The duo shook hands, embraced and vowed to end a chapter of bitter exchanges that have characterised their past year in office.

Earlier in the same meeting, Mr Onyonka had pleaded with Governor Arati to consider talks between them.

The senator said he was ready to meet and end the bitter relationship with him for the "sake of the development of the region".

"The Speaker of the National Assembly, who happens to be my former party leader, has been urging me the whole time I have been sitting with him that we need to have talks with the governor so that we can end these fights for the sake of our people," Mr Onyonka told the congregants.

Responding to the senator, Mr Arati admitted that the relationship with Mr Onyonka had not been for the good of the residents.

"As my brother Senator Onyonka said here, I am also very obliged that we engage in constructive politics so that we can move Kisii forward," he said.

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo, who also attended the event, urged Gusii leaders to unite and work together for the good of the community.

MPs Alfa Miruka (Bomachoge Chache), Daniel Manduku (Nyaribari Masaba), Steve Mogaka (West Mugirango) and county representatives from both Kisii and Nyamira also attended the event.

Bonchari MP Dr Charles Onchoke hosted the leaders.

Mr Arati took the opportunity to outline his achievements over the past year, noting that his recent ranking as one of the best performing governors in the country was the result of hard work,

"Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital's revenue has increased from Sh46 million per month to over Sh186 million during the same period," said Mr Arati.

And speaking on the economic hardships facing Kenyans, Mr Wetangula said only through hard work can Kenyans dig themselves out of a financial hole.

He urged citizens, especially those in the arid areas, to take advantage of the continuous heavy rains to grow crops and boost the economy. 

He said President William Ruto was doing everything possible to improve the welfare of every Kenyan despite the hard times facing the country.

"The President is already going around engaging in productive activities aimed at creating the wealth needed to move Kenya forward," he said.

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo urged residents to join the United Progressive Alliance party, saying the community stands to gain more through the party than other outfits.