Governors Simba Arati and Amos Nyaribo clash over Abagusii leadership

Governors Simba Arati and Amos Nyaribo

Governors Simba Arati (Kisii) and Amos Nyaribo (Nyamira). They are considered the spokespersons of the Omogusii community, according to local leaders.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

Supremacy battles have emerged in the Gusii region after two governors clashed in public over who should be the community’s spokesperson.

While addressing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga at an event on Sunday, Kisii Governor Simba Arati referred to himself as “the official spokesman for the Abagusii people” as he promised to unite the community.

Immediately after he finished speaking, his Nyamira counterpart Amos Nyaribo stood up and questioned who had installed Mr Arati as the spokesman.

The two were speaking during the burial of former North Mugirango MP Benson Kegoro Ogero at his home in Menyenya Settlement Scheme, Nyamira County.

Mr Arati’s claim to be the spokesperson of the Abagusii has been met with stiff resistance, with a number of elderly politicians expressing discomfort and dismissing it as mere grandstanding.

However, the 42-year old governor enjoys strong grassroots support in both Kisii and Nyamira counties as well as in major towns where members of the Abagusii community reside.

Traditionally, the Abagusii have resisted being herded together to follow the social or political directives of an individual. Even during the heydays of the late Simeon Nyachae, it was difficult for the community to accept him as their sole spokesman.

Recent efforts by a section of leaders to front Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu as the community’s leader came a cropper.

At the same funeral ceremony, Mr Arati took the opportunity to extend an olive branch to his political ally turned bitter rival Senator Richard Onyonka, asking him to join hands to bring development to the county. He said if they come together, they will slay the dragon of corruption that had negatively impacted the devolved unit’s development.

Mr Onyonka welcomed the governor’s gesture, stating that he had no problem working with him.

 “My brother Okong’o Omogeni, I know you have asked me several times to engage with Governor Arati. My leader, Mheshimiwa Raila, has just spoken with me and wants me to meet with Simba so that we can work together and bring peace to Kisii. I promise you I have no other agenda,” he said.