What you need to know:
- Mr Natembeya says he has no time to attend rallies as he has an electorate to take care of
- The governor is expected to lead a delegation of leaders from Trans Nzoia to meet the President to discuss development of the region
- Mr Natembeya skipped the Azimio rally led by Mr Raila Odinga and Ms Martha Karua, in Kitale on February 26, saying he was busy attending to serious county duties
- He says Trans Nzoia county has been branded an opposition zone for many years costing it development wise, hence he won't be a stumbling block
Two weeks after he snubbed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio rally in Kitale town, Governor George Natembeya has distanced himself from the coalition’s mass action agenda, making it clear that he will not take part in its planned countrywide protests.
It is now clear that the Trans Nzoia governor is warming up to President William Ruto, and is expected to meet the Head of State on Wednesday at State House Nairobi.
On Monday, he pledged to work with President Ruto, saying it is time to work for his people and he has no time for protest rallies.
"I am not going to waste time on the politics of other people’s agenda. I want to work with the national government so that our people receive development," he declared at a public event in Kitale town.
State House Delegation
The governor is expected to lead a delegation of elected and grassroots leaders from Trans Nzoia to meet the President to discuss development of the region.
Elected on a Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) ticket, an Azimio affiliate party, Mr Natembeya has defied the coalition's push for mass action and demonstrations.
When he skipped the Azimio rally led by Mr Raila Odinga and Ms Martha Karua, in Kitale last month, the governor’s communication team had said he was attending to serious county duties.
Mr Natembeya did not even send his deputy Philomena Kapkoy, forcing Saboti MP Caleb Hamisi to play host to the Azimio brigade, something that earned the governor serious backlash.
Busy with county duties
He would emerge at a public event the next day to tell his critics off and state that he was “busy” attending to his electorate. Mr Natembeya said then that he had no time to attend rallies as he had an electorate to take care of.
"I was busy yesterday (Sunday) and I couldn't make it to the rally. I don't think it's time for politics now, we should now work for the people," he had stated.
"I gave my best during the campaign and now it is time to deliver," he told the electorate at the launch of renovations at Kenyatta Stadium in Kitale on February 27.
In Kitale on Monday, the governor pledged to work with President Ruto to ensure the region benefits from the government development plan and fast-track economic growth in the county.
Costly opposition tag
According to Mr Natembeya, a former Rift Valley regional commissioner, Trans Nzoia county has been branded an opposition zone for many years, hindering development.
“Our leaders have been in opposition for many years. Look at a constituency like Saboti that has been led by many great leaders, but does not even have a single tarmac road," he said.
Speaking in Kitale, the county boss said he will not be a stumbling block to development in the county by sticking with the opposition. He said financial allocation from the Exchequer supports sustainable development, and he is eyeing more for Trans Nzoia county.
Mr Natembeya decried the high poverty levels in Trans Nzoia county and the larger Western region and called on President William Ruto to revive industries in the region.
"Our people are suffering for staying in the opposition and we can't allow it anymore. Let us work with the President to push for our development agenda," he said.
“It is Raila who taught us about cooperating with the national government and that is why you see Kisumu shining in development and you think it is Nyong’o’s work?” he asked.
The governor has received backing from members of the county assembly.
The MCAs, led by Majority Leader Edwin Koech, said the assembly resolved to work with the Executive for the benefit of the people, telling Mr Natembeya to focus on his development manifesto for Trans Nzoia people.