President William Ruto yesterday moved to elbow out Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga from the vote-rich Western region, promising them goodies and State appointments.
The Head of State met with some leaders from the region led by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula.
The meeting was also attended by trade unionist Francis Atwoli, MPs Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Titus Khamala (Lurambi), former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, former Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, among others.
Although those who attended the meeting said it was purely ‘development-oriented’, the Nation understands that there were a lot of political undertones, with those present vowing they will deliver the bloc to the Kenya Kwanza administration.
In the August General Election, President Ruto got 630,282 votes in the five Western counties (Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia), which was an impressive improvement compared to 352,877 votes for President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017.
Apart from Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula, majority of the leaders were from Kakamega.
The Nation understands Mr Atwoli has been pushing for the meeting, with those in attendance saying the trade unionist wanted to reconcile with the President.
Mr Atwoli was Dr Ruto’s fiercest critic during the presidential campaigns, insisting he had no chance of winning against Mr Odinga.
So vicious was his opposition to Dr Ruto’s bid that he frequently advised people in his (Ruto’s) Sugoi backyard to cut down all trees because he feared the Kenya Kwanza candidate would hang himself after failing to win the presidency.
Mr Atwoli changed tune immediately Dr Ruto was declared winner, saying employees will rally behind the current administration.
“It is Atwoli who has been pushing for this meeting because he wanted to reconcile with the President and that is what took place. You saw how they were happy after the meeting. The President agreed that we work together because the time for politics is over and we need to unite the country,” said a source who attended the meeting and asked not to be named.
In respect to appointments, Dr Ruto promised that the region will have its fair share.
“The President assured us that the Mulembe nation will be well represented in his government. He also said he has good plans for Washiali, Malala and Echesa. We are optimistic that out of the 22 or 23 CAS slots, our region will have a good number and the same with ambassadors,” said the source.
Mr Washiali was a bit guarded about what was discussed, saying they only discussed development matters. “We want everyone to be brought on board in this unity journey to see how the region benefits from this government,” he said.
Mr Wangwe said he does not intend to ditch Azimio. “Let it be known also that I am in ODM. There was no politics in our meeting,” said the Navakholo MP.
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi yesterday asked the leaders who met the President to desist from using the Mulembe nation to pursue “personal interests”.