President Ruto moves to counter Raila Odinga's influence in Gusii region

President William Ruto

President William Ruto chats with Kisii Governor Simba Arati during a thanksgiving service at Nyanturago Stadium on August 20, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto promised the Gusii community several development projects in a move aimed at taming his political rival Raila Odinga, who enjoys strong support in the region.

President Ruto said that the national government will work with the community’s leaders to boost development and grow the region economically.

“I am asking all leaders to unite and work with me. Elections are done after every five years, let’s not make our people fight and create violence,” said President Ruto as he rallied the leaders from Kisii to work with him.

Last Sunday, Mr Odinga was in Nyamira and was hosted by Kitutu Masaba MP Clive Gisairo as he officially opened Engoko centre, a chicken project started by the MP for his constituents. Mr Odinga also attended a fundraiser in the constituency.

A fortnight ago, President Ruto was in South Mugirango and was hosted by area MP and National Assembly Chief Whip Silvanus Osoro for a women groups empowerment programme.

The visits by the two rivals show that they are keen to control a major electoral stake in the community ahead of the next elections.

North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko (UDA) had earlier in the week lamented that despite high profile visits, Kisii and Nyamira counties have been neglected on matters of development and blamed this on what he termed poor local political leadership.

Speaking at Nyaturago stadium in Kisii County during a thanksgiving service, President Ruto called on the opposition to push its agenda in accordance with the laws.

“They are supposed to keep the government in check, provide oversight, ensure things don’t go wrong and help fight corruption. Making our youths fight, creating violence and destroying property through demonstrations is a big no,” said Dr Ruto.

He said he is working with Kisii Governor Simba Arati and other county chiefs to increase food security. “We have agreed with all governors that we will produce food all over the country so that we can eliminate this shame of hunger,” said President Ruto.

On dairy farming, he said the national government is ready to support Kisii County with milk coolers.

“We have some milk coolers, we want to support the dairy farmers in the region. We want you to sit down as a county government and agree with the Agriculture CS and PS so that you give us where to put the coolers,” said Dr Ruto.

The Head of State added that the national government will construct 10 markets in Kisii County.

“When I come to officially open those markets, I will visit Nyamache market which I heard was shoddily done. I want to know the person who did that shoddy work. We had proposed to build a banana market there that will help our farmers put their produce in order,” he said.

President Ruto also promised that the national government will help to equip the mother and child hospital being constructed by the Kisii County government.

He further promised infrastructure improvement, expansion of water and electricity supply and completion of Ibeno Kenya Medical Training College.