Deputy President William Ruto storms the heart of ODM leader Raila Odinga's Kisumu backyard today, as he begins his three-day Luo Nyanza visit to popularise his bid for the presidency.
In his second tour of the lakeside city after Madaraka Day celebrations, the DP will be popularising his campaign vehicle - the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) - and his bottom-up economic model as he attempts to woo the region to support him.
As part of his trip, he will visit Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay with several UDA leaders and local politicians.
It is still not clear why he has left out Siaya, Mr Odinga’s home county, from his itinerary.
An advance team arrived in Kisumu on Friday and has been preparing the ground for the DP, led by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi.
Dr Ruto has concentrated most of his Nyanza political engagements in the south of the region, making numerous visits to Kisii and Nyamira counties.
Mr Eliud Owalo, UDA national deputy secretary-general, this week’s tour will include meetings with youth leaders and professionals.
“The DP intends to utilise the tour to detail his bottom-up economic model for Kenya in general and in particular articulate his economic development agenda for the Nyanza region,” he said.
Dr Ruto will also meet stakeholders and representatives of key value chains and economic activities informed by comparative advantages of the Nyanza region.
Mr Owalo, who is also in charge of policy and strategy and is the regional coordinator for the DP’s political and economic programmes, told the Nation that Dr Ruto will meet youth and party members and leaders from across Nyanza.
He will also meet UDA grassroots coordinators.
Dr Ruto's tour starts in Kisumu, where he will hold a series of meetings and political rallies before heading to Migori and Homa Bay counties.
An itinerary seen by the Nation shows that the DP will start his Kisumu tour by meeting local youths from different professional backgrounds from 3pm to 6pm. They will hand over the region’s economic blueprint to him.
On Wednesday, Dr Ruto will meet boda boda operators at 9am, and later engage residents at the Kondele market, where he is expected to donate a lorry for a youth group.
It is still not clear whether the DP will go to Nyahera to meet small-scale traders, and make donations, including a school bus to Nyalunya Primary School in Kisumu East.
From Kondele, the DP will head to Migori County, making stopovers at Rongo, Ranen and Uriri before going to Karachuonyo in Homa Bay County.
On Thursday, Dr Ruto will visit Homa Bay town, Muhuru, Sori, Masara and Migori town.
Dr Ruto and his entourage will be hosted in Migori by Governor Okoth Obado, where the two leaders will address a number of rallies and preside over harambees.
This will be his second visit to the county. A month ago, he toured Awendo, where he was hosted by Governor Obado and former Awendo MP Jared Kopiyo, who officially joined UDA.
Governor Obado, who is also the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader, has thrown his weight behind DP Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid despite being a member of ODM.
The DP will wind up his tour on Thursday in Homa Bay by visiting a number of youth groups for his empowerment programmes and drumming up support for his bottom-up economic model.
But he will not visit Siaya, Nyamira and Kisii.
Apart from Mr Obado and Mr Kopiyo from Migori, local politicians who will be in the DP's entourage include former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo of Green Congress Party of Kenya, who will lead the Homa Bay team, businessman Polycarp Ocholla Kamili, who is contesting the Kisumu governor’s seat, and George Ayugi, popularly known as Mbuta, who will head the Kisumu delegation.
The DP's inroads in Mr Odinga's political backyard of Nyanza have not been rosy, with reduced activities being witnessed in Nyanza.
Lack of physical offices, limited funding and hostility from home-grown parties such as ODM and Ford Kenya are making it hard for UDA to penetrate Mr Odinga’s strongholds.
Mr Odinga’s message to counter the DP is also viewed as a way to lock Mr Ruto out of ‘his bedroom’.
During the Sikri declaration, the ODM leader also unveiled an economic blueprint for the Nyanza region as he officially began a journey to unite Kenyans.
Mr Odinga said counties like those in in Nyanza have suffered from economic setbacks as he called for unity, reconciliation, tolerance and hope to enable the region to grow economically.
Among the issues the Orange party leader wants to be addressed are food security, the blue economy, sports, education, youth empowerment, rural transformation, ICT and sports.
Mr Ogindo told the Nation that UDA plans to rope as many politicians as they can into the ‘Hustler train’ ahead of the next General Election.