Raila heads for Western to counter Ruto

Raila Odinga.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • President Ruto has been on charm offensive aimed at luring the region into backing his administration.
  • Raila allies have dismissed President Ruto’s projects as ‘PR stunts.’

Opposition leader Raila Odinga heads for Western today, barely two days after President William Ruto’s five-day visit.

Even though Mr Odinga will be in the region to attend some funerals, the visit has political undertones as the opposition leader is expected to address stopover rallies in what is seen as checkmating the President. Mr Odinga is expected in Busia and Vihiga counties today.

Dr Ruto has been on a charm offensive, launching development projects, which Mr Odinga’s troops have dismissed as “mere public relation stunts”.

He was in Kisii last week, before landing in Western for a rigorous five-day visit, which culminated in a Cabinet meeting in Kakamega and a consultative forum with local leaders and cane farmers.

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya told the Saturday Nation that Azimio troops will be in Western to condole with the families of former Bunyala MP James Osogo and former Central Organisation of Trade Unions chairman Rajab Mwondi in Hamisi, Vihiga, before addressing the public.

“We will be with our party leader (Mr Odinga) in Western and we cannot rule out talking to our supporters there. We will address them at various stopovers,” Mr Oparanya said.

Dr Ruto used his five-day tour to launch development projects in Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega and Bungoma counties, including the inauguration of 220-unit Milimani Estate affordable housing project in Lurambi, Kakamega, the construction of the Bungoma County Aggregation and Industrial Park and a tour of the Nzoia Sugar Company.

He also inaugurated the Emuhaya Sub-County Hospital in Vihiga and commissioned the Sh130 million Bukalama Fish Landing Site in Budalang'i, Busia, and handed over the Sh100 million Male Surgical Ward at Busia County Teaching and Referral Hospital built by the Kenya Defence Forces.

But Azimio has dismissed the President’s tour as inconsequential, claiming no new project was launched. “The tour, despite being presented as a developmental endeavour, was purely a UDA affair—a desperate attempt to resuscitate the fortunes of UDA and its surrogates in Vihiga.

This is particularly pertinent, given UDA’s inability to deliver on electoral pledges, coupled with punitive taxation and high cost of living causing disenchantment among residents and the wider Kenyan populace,” Vihiga senator Godfrey Osotsi said.

He claimed that the proposed projects raised credibility concerns and deceived residents. “In Vihiga, for instance, many of these projects had already been inaugurated or initiated by Dr Ruto during his tenure as Deputy President, while others were attributed to and had already been initiated or inaugurated by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Furthermore, several of the listed projects were funded by Vihiga County rather than the national government, casting doubt on the overarching developmental intent and pointing it more to political theatrics,” Mr Osotsi said.

Prior to Dr Ruto’s visit, Azimio leaders challenged him to explain the position of the Mulembe Nation in his administration, following a pre-election pact with ANC and Ford-K that was to offer a 30 per cent share of government to the region and ensure the tarmacking of at least 1,000 kilometres of roads.