James Orengo: Why I have accompanied President Ruto to India

President William Ruto with the Kenyan delegation in India on Monday. 

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • The Siaya Governor has since given an update of a meeting he held with a delegation from the Indian Government.
  • Mr Orengo said he has already briefed the President on the outcome of the MoU with the Indian government.

The presence of Siaya Governor James Orengo in President William Ruto's delegation to India has stirred up fresh political intrigues.

Mr Orengo is a close ally of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga and his presence in the presidential entourage has come as a surprise to many.

Interestingly, Mr Orengo travelled moments after hosting Wiper Democratic Movement Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Mr Odinga’s wife Ida Odinga at a fundraiser in Gem Constituency.

The Siaya Governor has since given an update of a meeting he held with a delegation from the Indian Government. During the meeting, the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

William Ruto and James Orengo

President William Ruto and Siaya Governor James Orengo share a light moment in Urenga, Siaya County on October 6, 2023 during the first day of the Head of State's tour of Nyanza.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

Mr Orengo has also explained that he is in Indian as the head of a delegation from Lake Region Economic Bloc. He said he has already briefed the President on the outcome of the MoU with the Indian government.

“I led a delegation from Lake Region Economic Block, including Governors Stephen Sang of Nandi and Dr Hillary Barchok (Bomet) to appraise President William Ruto on the MOU we signed with Indian government ministries and departments ahead of a meeting between President Ruto and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India,” Mr Orengo said.

“The MOU will establish a Solar Energy Park with a capacity of 280MW, with each of the 14 counties getting between 10-50MW. We are also seeking to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba corridor but at its core is interlinking railway network that connects the 14 LREB counties.”

The counties that form the Lake Region Economic Bloc are Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Nandi and Kericho.

According to the government’s plan, Phase 2B of the SGR, from Naivasha to the lakeside city of Kisumu, will cost Sh380 billion while the last leg, 2C from Kisumu to the border town of Malaba, will cost Sh122 billion.

Mr Orengo further said President Ruto has endorsed both project concepts for further discussions during the Head of State's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Meanwhile, in his official social media pages, President Ruto affirmed his support for the same, promising to make a follow up with his Indian counterpart.

“Met Dr Srinivasa Raju Gannavarapu, CEO Procorp Enertech Private Limited, who has shown interest in investing in LREB Counties. Present were Orengo, Mr sang and Dr Barchok. Good infrastructure facilitates the expansion of opportunities and economic growth. The Bloc has an ambitious plan to link their counties and bring the benefits of connectedness to the people by building the roads that will create prosperity for this and future generations,” President Ruto said.

This is not the first time Mr Orengo has accompanied the President to government functions.

In October, Mr Orengo hosted President Ruto in Siaya County during the Head of State’s tour of Luo Nyanza region.

William Ruto

President William Ruto shares a light moment with Siaya Governor James Orengo at Urenga in Siaya County on October 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Rushdie Oudia | Nation Media Group

Apart from the President, Mr Orengo has also hosted other senior government officials in Siaya County, among them the then Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, who presided over the groundbreaking ceremony of County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP). 

During the President’s recent tour of Luo Nyanza, Azimio governors made a sudden about turn and accompanied the Head of State to public rallies and the launch of several government projects.

While it was not clear whether their move had the blessings of Mr Odinga, the county bosses made the bold decision at a time several ODM legislators had been alienated by the party for associating themselves with the President.

“I want to tell you Mr President that I do not fear anything in politics and that is why I only say the truth. I have only come here because of development and all I want is that we bring an end to tribal politics and ensure that every region is developed equally,” Orengo said on that occasion.

The county boss also took the time to lecture ODM rebels who had accompanied the President on his tour.

“If you are in ODM, like I am, you should be proud of it because it is not a mistake. We must bring political hygiene into our politics,” Orengo said even as he asked President Ruto not to weaponize development.

"Whoever is telling you that you have to be in government to benefit from development is lying to you and does not understand the Constitution. That is petty politics. The Constitution states that the President must visit every corner of the country and deliver development for Kenyans," Orengo said back then.

He also stated that it is important for county governments to work closely with the national government as enshrined in the Constitution.