Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has extended the March 9, 2018 handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.
For the first time, Mr Odinga publicly announced that he and Dr Matiang'i had buried the hatchet. He promised to work with the CS.
The two clashed before and after the 2017 General Election over the manner in which Dr Matiang’i handled the opposition leaders and their supporters.
The same was replicated during the recent Bonchari by-election in which ODM's candidate won.
Mr Odinga also brought together Dr Matiang’i and Kisii Governor James Ongwae, noting that he will work with the two.
"We are going to walk together with Fred,” Mr Odinga said.
Another son of Gusii we have walked with is Mr Ongwae, I will walk with both of them," said Mr Odinga.
The former Prime Minister described Dr Matiang’i, whom he referred to as his younger brother, as an intelligent and hardworking person.
"He is a very hardworking minister and one who believes in Kenya and Nyanza as well. He knows his work well and is brave,” said Mr Odinga.
Dr Matiang'i hosted the ODM leader for a fundraiser at Mwongori Secondary School where he is the patron. During the event, Dr Matiang’i was endorsed to lead negotiations on behalf of the Gusii community.
Hundreds of Borabu residents endorsed the CS as the Gusii community's spokesperson, and a link between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
Cabinet secretaries Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Eugene Wamwala (Defense), Health PS Susan Mochache, Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure, Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto and several other top government officials attended the fundraiser.
Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo, his Kisii Counterpart Mr Ongwae, Nyamira Senator Okong'o Omogeni and Woman Rep Jerusha Momanyi were also present.
MPs Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Ben Momanyi (Borabu), Jimmy Angweny (Kitutu Chache North) and Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) also attended the event.
Dr Matiang’i thanked the President for giving him an opportunity to serve Kenyans.
"As we sit right now, the President and Mr Odinga shook hands and that is where the country is. I have sat with Mr Odinga many times and I mean exactly this," he said.
The Interior CS said he will not take his community astray by swaying away from the President and Mr Odinga.
"People should stop threatening us. When politics gathers momentum, we will get deep in our villages, and our votes will speak," said Dr Matiang’i in an apparent attack on Deputy President William Ruto.
He added, “As ministers, we support our President, and we are right behind him. In Kenya's presidential system of government, we are known as the President's Cabinet and that is exactly what we do... supporting him,” said the CS.
He said Gusii is where the President and Mr Odinga are and that is where the majority of Kenyans are.
"You must be a mad man to go where people are running from, you should be where other Kenyans are,” he said.
He said that when he was Education CS, he decided to have a school built in Borabu. The extra-county school has 1500 students from 300.
"We have been working quietly with other stakeholders. We have invested heavily in it. We fixed a day for the harambee and agreed with the board and other leaders to have it today," said Dr Matiang’i.
He said that leaders will be remembered by their service to the people.
An emotional Mr Odinga, had to cut short his speech before inviting Dr Matiang’i for the symbolic handshake. He promised to work with the CS.
"I did not expect this. I did not know what the CS was planning, this is emotional," he said as he revealed that they had earlier agreed to front the CS for the country's top seat but took an about turn after surveying the country's political landscape and concluding that the time was ripe for Mr Odinga's presidency.
"This way, we will be able to remove the hyenas in the forest," he said in apparent reference to beating Dr Ruto in the 2022 polls.