Deputy President William Ruto has asked residents of Nyanza to reject President Uhuru Kenyatta and his ‘Handshake’ partner Raila Odinga, saying the two leaders have neglected the region economically.
Dr Ruto stormed Nyanza — a region that has historically supported Mr Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader — with a strong message that the two leaders had let down people from the Lake region.
In a scathing attack on his boss, Dr Ruto said President Kenyatta had joined hands with Mr Odinga to plan on how to deny him leadership in the 2022 elections.
The DP, who received a heroic welcome in Awendo, Migori County on Saturday, said it is very unfair that having supported the two in their quest for leadership, they have now trying to deny him power.
“There are many people here without jobs and businesses. Sugarcane farmers are also suffering. It is because the government has let you down. We must have a government that thinks about ordinary people instead of sharing leadership slots,” said Dr Ruto.
He added that before discussing power, sharing leadership positions and changing the Constitution, leaders must have solutions for the problems bedevilling Kenyans.
The DP was welcomed by Migori Governor Okoth Obado, Kuria West MP Mathias Robi, his Kuria East counterpart Marwa Kitayama and former MP Jared Kopiyo in a meeting snubbed by other elected leaders from Migori.
He held a fundraiser at Awendo Central SDA church before holding roadside rallies in Jogama grounds, Uriri and Rapogi centres. He was later hosted for lunch at governor Obado’s Rapogi home.
Dr Ruto was accompanied by MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango) and Johanna N’geno (Emurua Dikirr) and former South Mugirango legislator Omingo Magara.
“The high cost of fuel is because those in government have forgotten their roles. Bodabodas cannot work because they cannot raise money to buy fuel,” said the DP.
Dr Ruto has visited Migori County several times in the past and only toured Kuria East and Kuria West constituencies, leaving out six constituencies.
He is now pushing his hustler narrative and the bottom up economic agenda in the larger Luo Nyanza, a region that is ODM's stronghold.
Dr Ruto is on a charm offensive in the region through his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.
He said none of the leaders looking for positions ahead of the 2022 General Election, including him, is an angel.
“You know us all. The system and deep state cannot decide leaders. It is only you [who can]. They tried forcing leadership and premiership positions through reggae (BBI), but God stopped it,” said the DP.
In an apparent reference to his boss, Dr Ruto said a group of seven leaders had joined hands with “not so good plans” to bring him down.
‘Gang of seven’
“Those men have planned for me. They have formed a gang of seven people, which is small compared to the huge gang of hustlers I have. They will not defeat us,” he said, adding that he helped Mr Odinga in 2007 to become a prime minister and President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017 to become President.
“They are now together plotting for my failure. It is not fair. I have stood by them, let me now help the hustlers,” he said.
Mr Obado told the DP to speak about the sugarcane industry and the Sony Sugar Factory that drives Migori’s economy.
He also drummed up support for his People’s Democratic Party, saying it will team up with UDA ahead of the next polls.
The Migori governor said the party to watch in Nyanza is PDP and that he will popularise it as he works with DP Ruto to lock out other leaders from the vote-rich region.
“Please speak about Sony. My people have suffered for long and want to know how they will be rescued,” Mr Obado told the DP.
Dr Ruto accused the government of killing the sugar industry through cartels and that it is now pretending to rescue it by privatising factories.
“When I was Agriculture Minister, I streamlined the sugar industry. These people now think they can take and privatise Sony. Sony is supposed to empower Migori farmers economically, but the situation on the ground is different. There is no way the government can do anything without agreeing with farmers and residents,” he said, noting that if Sony Sugar goes down now, its collapse will affect millions of residents.
Earlier, Awendo MP Walter Owino and Migori Woman Rep Pamellah Odhiambo told journalists that as ODM leaders, they would not grace DP Ruto’s function but called on residents to remain calm during the event.
“Ruto is free to come to Awendo and sell his development and political ideology because that is the same reception we want all politicians to get across the country ahead of 2022 General Elections. We also wish well local and regional political leaders who will host him. They will not be missed in ODM,” Mr Owino said.
Ms Odhiambo said, “We believe there is a democratic right for leaders to associate with electorates and we wish he has a peaceful meeting, though he will just be a political tourist as Migori is solidly behind Mr Odinga and ODM party.”