After disappearing from the public limelight since last year’s general election, former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho resurfaced yesterday, disclosing that he has been battling against health issues and reassuring Azimio of his unwavering support for their activities.
Mr Joho, who is also ODM deputy party leader, said he returned from abroad where he was undergoing treatment and would soon reactivate protests on the Coast to push the government to lower the cost of basic goods.
Speaking in Mombasa after Eid Ul Fitr prayers, Mr Joho said his heart is deeply embedded in Azimio’s and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s ideologies. “I went through some surgery, I am recovering and that is the main reason you have not seen me where you should see me. But I want it to be known that I’m 100 per cent subscribed to the ideologies of the Azimio coalition,” he said.
Mr Joho regretted that he was not in the streets.
“I support Azimio's agenda but am disappointed to see here in Coast, a region considered an ODM zone, leaders are not ready to participate. Soon you will see me in the streets," said Mr Joho.
“The reason for going to the streets is that life has become unbearable, people are suffering, yet the government is playing politics. They should act; as a government you can't keep on talking, you must act.”
At the same time, Joho said one of the reasons he was away is that he had been pursuing his master’s course abroad.
“I will return the Coast region to where it was politically. I am asking those who are moving around making noise over winning our supporters to watch out.”
The region is perceived as Mr Odinga’s base, but President William Ruto has been on a charm offensive to win over residents.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua this week said some people had criticised him for visiting the Coast every week. He rubbished the talk, saying his visits are job-oriented and meant to serve residents.
“I have received complaints that I have made the Coast region my home, but I want to tell them Coast is in Kenya and I, being the one having shares in the government, want to add supporters from this region to the Kenya Kwanza government.”
Speaking in Liwatoni, Mombasa County, while launching six sea-going patrol boats, Mr Gachagua said he wants to increase coastal votes from the previous 44 per cent to about 80 per cent, adding that can only be achieved by “giving people development”.
In Joho’s absence, the region had remained an open playfield, with Kenya Kwanza taking advantage to make inroads. Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua, on their development tours , have been wooing ODM followers.
Mr Joho and Senate Speaker Amason Kingi, who served two terms as Kilifi governor, had been key ODM leaders before the latter joined Kenya Kwanza. Armed with financial muscle and political goodwill, Mr Joho commanded a huge following, especially in Kilifi and Mombasa counties.
Currently, ODM leaders, including governors Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa) and Andrew Mwadime (Taita Taveta), have thrown their weight behind the national government vowing to work with Dr Ruto.