Ruto takes battle to Raila’s doorstep

President-Elect William Ruto welcomes the Movement for Democracy and Growth led by the Party leader David Ochieng.

President-Elect William Ruto welcomes the Movement for Democracy and Growth led by the Party leader David Ochieng (MP Ugenya) into the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

Photo credit: DPPS

What you need to know:

  • Dr Ruto plans to use leaders from the region who are not seeing eye to eye with Mr Odinga to quash his decades-old influence.
  • Mr Eliud Owalo said they plan to “liberate” Nyanza from “a few individuals”.
  • But Mr Odinga’s allies say they will counter Dr Ruto, reminding residents of the need to keep electing only ODM politicians. 

After managing to water down the influence of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Central and former President Daniel arap Moi’s family in Rift Valley, Deputy President William Ruto has now gone for Raila Odinga’s political base. 

Sunday Nation has learnt of a plan to woo more leaders from Nyanza to join Kenya Kwanza in a plot aimed at weakening the Azimio la Umoja leader.

Dr Ruto plans to use leaders from the region who are not seeing eye to eye with Mr Odinga to quash his decades-old influence.

The latest entrant is Ugenya MP David Ochieng, who led a group of politicians in his Movement for Democracy and Growth party, to join Kenya Kwanza.

Mr Ochieng now joins former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who lost to James Orengo in his second attempt at the Siaya gubernatorial race. 

Mr Gumbo crossed over to Kenya Kwanza by virtue of being a member of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), led by former Mandera governor Ali Roba, who recently inked an agreement with the Ruto-led coalition.

‘Liberators’

In Siaya, besides Mr Gumbo and Mr Ochieng, Mr Eliud Owalo has been in Dr Ruto’s camp.

Mr Owalo, in a phone interview with Sunday Nation, said they plan to “liberate” Nyanza from “a few individuals”.

Mr Owalo, an economist, management consultant and strategy expert who has been Ruto’s point man in Luo-Nyanza, said Dr Ruto’s government will be all-inclusive and will integrate Mr Odinga’s base into Kenya Kwanza’s political and economic programmes.

He said they plan to reach out to all Luo Nyanza elected leaders.

“This week, we received David Ochieng, Olago Aluoch, Jack Ranguma and Fred Outa into Ruto’s fold. Eng. Gumbo and others joined us last week. Our next stop is Homa Bay and Migori counties where a critical mass of hitherto Azimio-leaning prominent politicians will be joining us in the next few days,” Mr Owalo told Sunday Nation.

Their development plan for the region revolves around County Economic Charters anchored on the thematic areas of the revitalisation of the sugar sector, optimisation of the fishing industry, and value-addition to farm produce, including cotton and rice.

Mr Owalo, who is also the deputy secretary general of the UDA party responsible for policy and strategy, pointed out that they do not want privileged families to unilaterally decide and casually rotate the leadership of the country among themselves in total disregard for the will and wishes of millions of Kenyans.

“I am still vehemently opposed to and do not subscribe to the school of thought that two or three families should selfishly scheme to rotate the leadership of this country among themselves as a means of perpetuating themselves in power and facilitating their egocentric economic interests. That, to me, would not only be a travesty of justice but also a tragedy of epochal dimensions,” said Mr Owalo.

In Kisumu, ex-county boss Jack Ranguma, former senator Fred Outa and former Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch have all joined the DP’s camp.

Also in Dr Ruto’s camp is former Migori governor Okoth Obado, who has been his long-time ally.

He, together with former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, is key to the UDA supremo’s plans as he is one of the popular leaders in Nyanza.

Mr Obado has called on the people of Nyanza to welcome the election of Dr Ruto as president, saying he is the best bet for the region. He said Dr Ruto will develop Nyanza just like the other areas around the country.

“You remember I told you we should not put our eggs in one basket as we headed for the election. This person who has won the election is a good man and will neither abandon Nyanza nor persecute our leaders. Some of our people who are on his side will ensure this does not happen and we will all benefit,” he said.

The former governor stated that it is not the first time Dr Ruto has stood with Mr Odinga’s backyard, pointing out that he did the same in 2007 when he rallied behind the ODM leader, leading to the formation of the grand coalition government following that year’s bungled presidential election.

Orange troops

But Mr Odinga’s allies say they will counter Dr Ruto, reminding residents of the need to keep electing only ODM politicians. 

“We asked you to vote for only Orange party candidates and we knew why we were saying that. Imagine the embarrassment it would have been, had we voted for Gumbo in Siaya among others. Where would we have hidden our faces? This is why we pushed for ‘six piece’. We knew these people were not honest,” said incoming Siaya senator Oburu Oginga.

Similar sentiments were made by Siaya Governor Orengo, who maintained that the unity of leaders from the region will be key to warding off Dr Ruto’s overtures. 

Leaders such as Lang’ata MP-elect Felix Odiwuor, popularly known as Jalang’o, and Migori Woman Representative-elect Fatuma Mohammed have already revealed that they had been approached to cross over to Kenya Kwanza Alliance but declined the offer.

“I was elected as an independent candidate, but I am allied to Azimio. I want the agents of Ruto to take back the message to him that no amount of money can buy my loyalty to Raila Amollo Odinga. Never on earth will I betray him,” said Ms Mohammed during the swearing-in of Ochillo Ayacko as the second governor of the county.

In the Mount Kenya region, with the help of Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua, Dr Ruto managed to get many elected MPs under his UDA party and Kenya Kwanza coalition. Nearly all those who contested on the Jubilee Party ticket lost.

Most of those who lost were close allies of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga and were pushing for the Azimio agenda in Central.

In Rift Valley, Dr Ruto got the majority of seats, with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, a principal in the Azimio coalition, being a victim after he failed to successfully defend his Baringo senatorial seat.

Two days ago, Mr Gachagua took the UDA campaign to Rongai, Nakuru County, where Raymond Moi, Gideon’s brother, is facing stiff competition from Paul Chebor who is seeking the seat on the UDA ticket.

Training his eyes on the Odinga family, Dr Ruto is said to be assembling a team of professionals, politicians and newly elected leaders to help him wrest the region from the ODM leader.

Unlike the Kenyattas and the Mois who have yet to have elected leaders from the 2022 elections, the Odinga family managed to clinch key positions in Siaya and Kisumu.

Dr Oginga, Mr Odinga’s brother and former East Africa Legislative Assembly member, is the Siaya senator-elect, while his younger sister, Ruth Odinga, won the Kisumu woman representative seat.

Nominated MCA Truphosa Osewe, Mr Odinga’s sister-in-law, also clinched the North Sakwa ward representative seat.

With the seats already in the bag, the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga family from Bondo has its eyes firmly on the presidency, hoping to crown it all with a win by Raila, who has challenged Dr Ruto’s victory in the Supreme Court, praying that the apex court will declare him president-elect.

Clinching the presidency may just complete the Odingas’ trophy cabinet, as the ODM leader has previously occupied two key elective positions—MP and prime minister.

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