How Nyanza leaders ensured Ruto’s tour went smoothly

President William Ruto and Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga

President William Ruto and Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga share a light moment when they went to officially commission the Homabay Market on January 13, 2023.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

It took a series of meetings by Nyanza elected leaders in Nairobi, Kisumu, Siaya and Homa Bay to ensure President William Ruto’s tour of Nyanza went on smoothly. 

The change of tact by Nyanza leaders, who have been fierce critics of Dr Ruto, has ignited debate on the president’s two-day tour of the region.

The leader’s strategy was two kill two birds with one stone. They were to give the Head of State a rousing welcome and at the same time put on the table demands that must be implemented to boost the economic fortunes of the region.

The leaders also sought to have ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Ruto embrace each other.

In Siaya County, Governor James Orengo asked the President to ‘sit with Raila’ not through a handshake, but in the spirit of brotherhood.

Mr Odinga is said to have met Nyanza leaders in Nairobi last Wednesday. 

The meeting came after the ODM Party leader gave Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition the greenlight to work with Dr Ruto’s administration for the sake of development.

Another meeting was on Friday between Kisumu and Homa Bay counties’ elected leaders with the President.   

“During our meeting with the President on Friday night, we reminded him about the need to complete the projects initiated by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta,” said an MP who attended the meeting.

He said the President assured Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyongó that his government would ensure roads projects like the Kisumu Boys-Mamboleo dual carriageway would be completed. 

On Saturday morning, Dr Ruto met leaders from Siaya before he commissioned the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology Blue Economy Research Hub.

Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi said during their meeting with the Head of State, they presented a raft of projects they wanted his government to implement. 

“We want to thank the President for assuring us that he will look at all the issues we raised with him,” said Mr Atandi.

After the meeting, the President left for the homecoming party of ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Mr Eliud Owalo.

The change of tact by Mr Odinga’s allies has been lauded by their supporters. 

Governors James Orengo (Siaya), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) pushed for the completion of pending projects that will transform the region.

“Through this partnership, the President has set aside Sh1.2 billion for the completion of the Ugunja-Ukwala-Sega Water Project and Sh280 million for the Siaya-Bondo Water project,” said Mr Orengo.

Mr Orengo said the President promised to allocate his administration an additional 20 tractors to complement Siaya County Tractor Services.

The county will also receive a rice milling machine for rice farmers in Alego Usonga and Ujwanga in Ugenya constituencies. 

Despite the Nyanza region voting overwhelmingly for Mr Odinga in the August 9 General Election, Dr Ruto vowed to complete the projects that had been initiated by the Jubilee government.

“In my Rift Valley backyard, Agwambo garnered 25 percent of the votes and in Central where Rigathi comes from, he got more than 28 percent of the votes, but you guys only gave me 1 percent of the votes but I appreciate it however little. Do not wait for another government because this is your administration and will work for you,” said Dr Ruto.

It will be interesting to see the direction the latest dalliance between Nyanza leaders and Dr Ruto will take, especially after Mr Odinga said he would make a major political announcement this month.

The good working relationship with the Kenya Kwanza government is likely to be extended today when Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua presides over the Ninth Edition of the annual Kenya Inter-Counties Sports and Cultural Association games in Kisumu today. The week-long sports event has attracted 32 counties.