Ruto allies change tack in Nyanza UDA listing

Eliud Owalo, Fred Outa

From left: Education CS Ezekiel Machogu,  Eliud Owalo, Fred Outa and Raymond Omollo.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s relentless efforts to recruit in Nyanza are adding to the ODM party’s headache as it grapples with rebellious members, some of whom have decided to work with the government.

UDA party officials and members have been making forays into ODM leader Raila Odinga’s backyard seeking to recruit members.

In the immediate aftermath of the elections, UDA leaders from Nyanza region were attacking Mr Odinga on every platform they could get, but recently there seems to be a change in tack that seems to be working.

Former Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, who was appointed Chief Administrative Secretary for Administration, said: “We are registering as many people as possible in UDA and we are engaging them on an economic empowerment platform. We are not going to fight them but use the element of persuasion so that our people can change their mindset and embrace the government,” said Mr Outa.

Addressing over 500 beach management units officials in Nyanza at the home of ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo a week ago, Mr Outa revealed another strategy they have put in place to recruit members.

“We are going to use such groupings and meetings to slowly convert our people. We have always wanted to be in government and now we are in one, there is no other we are waiting for,” he said.

The onslaught on Mr Odinga’s support base is being spearheaded by Mr Owalo, backed by other government appointees from the region, including Internal Security Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo.

Mr Owalo has hosted other grassroots groups, such as those of teachers, small-scale traders, elders, religious leaders and farmers to sell UDA. The President’s party has also opened offices in Nyanza.

Former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, who is now the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority chairman, led a recruitment drive in Nyando over the weekend with plans to conduct the exercise across the county. During the exercise at Nyangoma Chief's Camp, they said they had recruited total of 1,300 new members.

Mr Owalo has also been using development in Nyanza to woo members as opposed to attacking Mr Odinga.

“We need to create an enabling environment for the government to implement development programmes in this region. We cannot play politics day in and day out. We want to change things and engage in the politics of development,” said the CS during the event.

In recent weeks, Mr Owalo and other Cabinet colleagues who have visited Nyanza, have poured cold water on claims by Mr Odinga and other opposition leaders that the region is being sidelined when it comes to development by the current regime.

Mr Owalo, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs CS Salim Mvurya, who toured Siaya and Kisumu, said that they were under strict instructions not to discriminate against any region irrespective of who it voted for.

Mr Owalo however urged the people of Nyanza to reciprocate President Ruto’s gesture and goodwill by cooperating with the national government.

He said various agencies dealing with water, electricity, roads and digital economy are currently in Nyanza to lay the foundation for the implementation of various projects.

His Education counterpart echoed the sentiments, urging the people of Nyanza to support the President in his development agenda and the people he has appointed from the region. He dismissed claims that Dr Ruto was favouring a few tribes in public appointments.

 “Let us support the government of the day because we will benefit. Already, Mr Owalo and I are a true testimony that Dr Ruto cares for the people of Nyanza, the same goes for the other appointments, including the recent ones in the university councils,” said Mr Machogu.

He said the Nyanza region needed to change its politics if it is to take power.

“By the nature of my job, I have the opportunity to move in all parts of the country and I have read the mood very early. Let us be strategic and play our cards well so that we continue to be part of the current and successive governments,” said Mr Machogu.