What you need to know:
- The Head of State made his maiden trip to the region which overwhelmingly voted for his rival Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga.
- His visit is of much significance as he tries to make inroads in the region promising that the Kenya Kwanza government will not abandon them for voting for his opponent.
- The President said he will work for everyone including regions where he faced hostility.
President William Ruto descended on Homa Bay county Sunday with a bag of goodies for residents of Nyanza as he tries to win the hearts of voters with his eyes already set on the 2027 election.
The Head of State made his maiden trip to the region which overwhelmingly voted for his rival Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga.
He visited Homa Bay County on Sunday where he attended a prayer service at AIC Church in Homa Bay town before holding a roadside rally in the town.
His visit is of much significance as he tries to make inroads in the region promising that the Kenya Kwanza government will not abandon them for voting for his opponent.
The region is one of Mr Odinga's strongholds and which is said to have been "neglected" by previous governments for supporting the opposition.
Dr Ruto however is trying to change the narrative by making everyone believe that his government is one and serves all Kenyans.
Work with everyone
The President said he will work for everyone including regions where he faced hostility.
"My government will work for everyone. That includes those who did not support us. I love all of you," the president said.
As a sign that his government has everyone at heart, he promised to visit Homa Bay County for a second time next month.
It will be a historic visit as the previous presidents have shied away from the county.
Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta is known to have visited Homa Bay at least twice during his 10-year term.
Dr Ruto however said his Sunday tour will not be the last as he will be in the county to launch a low-cost housing project that will establish 400 units in the first phase.
"Other phases of construction will come until we build 5000 units. The project will create jobs for local youths," he said.
The Head of State who promised to work with leaders across the political divide reiterated that his administration will not discriminate against any region as he lined up a number of projects to be implemented across the county.
Dr Ruto unveiled plans to revive the stalled projects, construction of major roads and construct low-cost housing, among others, to rekindle the glory of the lakeside town.
"We have an agreement which we made with the people of Homa Bay when I came here for an economic forum. I promise you that I am going to work with all elected leaders to transform our country on the basis we agreed upon," he said.
He said the county has 200 kilometres of unfinished roads which he promised to factor in the next budget.
The roads include Kanyadhiang-Pala- Kadel ring road which he launched in 2018 before the project stalled.
Others are Mbita- Sindo-Magunga-Sori road that connects fishing villages in Homa Bay and Migori counties among others.
He appealed to elected leaders and the residents to put behind the debate that dominated the campaign period and join hands to work for the benefit of Kenyans who are yearning for development and provision of employment to the thousands of youth.
The President also took note of the dilapidated water and sewerage system in Homa Bay.
Leaders who accompanied the president include Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, his Ugenya counterpart David Ochieng, Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama, his Kuria West counterparts Mathias Robi, former governors Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Okoth Obado (Migori) former Kisumu Senator Fred Outa and former Siaya governor candidate Nicholas Gumbo.
Lake Basin Development Authority Managing Director Raymond Omollo, Former Ministry of East African Community Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura, ICT Cabinet Secretary nominee Eliud Owalo and presidential Delivery Unit Director Silvance Oselle were also present.
The leaders hailed the election process saying it was peaceful as Mr Nyoro asked for unity among Kenyans in order to realise development across the board.
"The lake, central and the right valley regions should work together to ensure the country moves to a different level," he said.
Mr Ochieng on his side asked the president to address unemployment and food security which he said are the main issues affecting residents of Nyanza.
Mr Obado, Mr Omollo and Mr Osele on the other hand asked the president to revive collapsed industries like the cottage industry.
Azimio no show
However, elected leaders from Homa Bay County gave a wide berth to Ruto's visit.
Politicians from Azimio Coalition did not show up at the church service attended by Ruto and his team.
Governor Gladys Wanga said in a post on her Facebook page that she was made aware of the president’s visit to the county but explained she could be available to welcome him because of other engagements.
Ms Wanga is in Mombasa with MCAs from the county who are undergoing induction.
"I wish to extend a warm welcome to The President on behalf of the great people of Homa Bay and request him to feel at home," she said.
She added: "I am however out of the country on official duty and will therefore be unable to join HE (Dr Ruto) for the church service and have communicated the same to His Excellency.".
She said the people of Homa Bay have a culture of great hospitality.
Some residents however condemned the move by local leaders to boycott the prayer meeting saying it is an act of political immaturity.
Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (Supkem) Secretary in Homa Bay Nuhu Masud said it would have been in order if a section of leaders welcomed the president.
“Not a single leader was present yet it was the first visit the president was making to Nyanza. It is a sign that our leaders do not recognise the current president,” he said.
Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said he was not invited.
"I got the information late. There should be proper communication channel," he said.
Mr Evans Oloo, a resident, claimed elected leaders from the county have not embraced democracy and still believe in political enmity.
"There is a belief among politicians in the county that they will be branded as moles if they are seen with those who are in the other parties. It is something that should be discouraged," he said.
President Ruto’s visit became public on Saturday evening.
His itinerary was made public in the evening and all security arrangements were put to order.
Some residents questioned why local leaders could not plan to meet the president and share with him some of the challenges that residents face in a bid to have them solved.
Mr Oloo challenged politicians in the county to embrace working with the government.
"There should be political goodwill for any development to be successful. Our leaders will not deliver if they do not want to work with the current government," he said.
“All leaders would have been present if Mr Odinga was the one attending the meeting,” he added.
Mr Michael Odhiambo said the county has lagged behind in development and the only way to make it compete with other countries is if leaders get support from the government.
He said the funds that county governments receive are not enough to sustain the needs of residents.
"Their absence means they still hold grudges from the loss of the election. They should not look at the election loss but work with the government," Mr Odhiambo said.