Coast leaders warm up to President Ruto
For the past two decades, the Coast region has been one of the key bases of the ODM party, which has been at the forefront of keeping the government on its toes.
However, in the coming months, this is expected to shift after Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir and his Kilifi counterpart Gideon Mung’aro pledged to work with President William Ruto’s government, saying it is for the benefit of the citizens in their region.
Mr Nassir said his dalliance with President Ruto is not political but informed by the need to work for Mombasa residents.
For the past month, the first-time governor has been mingling with the elected leaders of the President’s UDA party, including parliamentarians Mohammed Ali (Nyali) and Owen Baya (Kilifi North).
“The President was chosen and elected by Kenyans, the same way I was. When I serve, I serve everyone, those who voted for me, those that didn’t, and those who did not participate in the polls. In the same spirit, when I work, I have to work with everyone. At the end of the day our convergence and focal point should be the people,” said Mr Nassir, insisting that he has not changed his political leaning.
“In the same way, I would wish to be accorded respect by the national government, I need to reciprocate. I have always been in ODM, and I have never shifted political parties. But at the same time, I am the governor and I need to serve every single person regardless of their political affiliation,” Mr Nassir said.
The governor said when his ODM party leader Raila Odinga went to Kilifi three weeks ago to attend a burial, he accompanied him.
“In the same way, I went with the President the next day to bury Mr Baya’s father in Dabaso. Mr Baya is a personal friend and I served with him in the last Parliament. We debated many things being in different political parties, but every single time when it came to coastal matters, we always aligned,” he added.
Mr Nassir said Mr Odinga is a democrat and has no problem with him working with the government.
The governor said Kenyans need to understand the importance of co-existing regardless of political affiliation.
“Were it that I was in conflict with President Ruto, would I have gotten the Miritini Industrial Park licence and permits?” he asked.
He said the agenda of Coast leaders is to protect the interests of the coastal people.
“What will we gain by abusing each other and being at loggerheads or in conflict with the national government? We are not enemies, but we are mature,” he said.
Mr Nassir also dismissed as false claims that he has delayed naming his Cabinet because of pressure from powerful politicians.
“I will soon name my cabinet. I have already advertised. There will be new faces and technocrats,” he said.
For weeks, Mr Ali has been pressing the governor to work with President Ruto to clear what he termed as the rot left by his predecessor, Hassan Joho, including pending bills worth Sh4.2 billion.
The MP said the Head of State will help the governor deal with the drug trafficking menace that is besieging his county.
“This is a new dawn for the Mombasa leadership. We have started cooperation with the county leaders. The era of injustice is over. Mr Nassir, do not waste any second. Come work with the President to develop this county. We will support you to deal with drug trafficking and other ills,” he said.
He added: “Do not fear anything, you were elected by the people. Issues of party politics are during elections. It is now time to work. I know you have challenges. Clean up the mess without looking back. We are waiting to see your cabinet; let them be servant leaders and not ‘tumbocrats’,” he said. Terming Mr Nassir as a development-oriented leader, Mr Ali urged residents to give the governor time because he has a huge debt to clear.
“There was massive corruption in the previous administration and some corrupt individuals are still in his administration. Remove them,” the MP told Mr Nassir.
Mr Mung’aro reiterated that the only way to benefit from the government is to work in harmony with President Ruto.
“Politics is over. I will work with the government to realise development,” he said.