What you need to know:
- Dr Ruto is attending a prayer service in Homa Bay town and is expected to thereafter meet residents.
President William Ruto is today visiting Homa Bay County in his first tour of Nyanza region since he took office as the Head of State.
Dr Ruto is attending a prayer service at African Inland Church (AIC) in Homa Bay town and is later expected to meet residents.
The President arrived at the church minutes before 10am accompanied by ICT CS nominee Eliud Owalo, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Ugenya MP David Ochieng, former Migori governor Okoth Obado, former Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma and former Kisumu Senator Fred Outa among other leaders from the region.
Homa Bay County governor Gladys Wanga is, however, not accompanying the President as she is away on official duty.
"I wish to extend a warm welcome to the President on behalf of the great people of Homa Bay and request him to feel at home. I'm however out of the county on official duty and will therefore be unable to join HE for the church service and have communicated the same to His Excellency," she said.
Also Read: Blame game over Raila election loss
Dr Ruto's visit comes at a time when residents of Homa Bay County and Nyanza region are still coming to terms with the defeat of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the August 9 election.
The region voted overwhelmingly for Mr Odinga and his running mate Ms Martha Karua.
Political observers believe the tour of the President to Homa Bay is meant to open doors for him to visit other parts of Nyanza region.
Devolution Defenders Forum Executive Director Michael Kojo said Homa Bay will act as a soft landing for the President based on past experience.
During campaigns, Dr Ruto and other presidential contenders including Jimi Wanjigi faced hostility in parts of Nyanza region where their convoys were stoned. However, Homa Bay stood out as it warmly welcomed politicians across the board.
Also Read: Governor Nyong'o faults Ruto's Cabinet pick
Mr Kojo said the President is using the county as his entry point to Nyanza because of how Homa Bay residents have welcomed politicians who are not aligned to the political parties of their choice.
“He should have visited Kisumu to attend the closure of the music festival but sent his deputy Rigathi Gachagua. He decided to have his first visit to Homa Bay because of good reception in the past,” he claimed.
Mr Kojo added that the President wants to show political supremacy ow that he is the Head of State.
He said the visit is also meant to build confidence in the people of Nyanza that the Kenya Kwanza government will not forget them.
He said Dr Ruto may want the development projects that his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta started to continue.
“Even though he said he will not include leaders from opposition in his government, that does not mean he will abandon what the previous government started,” he said.
Also Read: How Raila lost presidential polls
Mr Kojo added that Dr Ruto's visit is in preparation for the 2027 election as he tries to create a bond between him and voters in Nyanza.
Dr Ruto visited the county only once during campaigns where he promised residents that his government will address the challenges they face.
Some of the residents have presented their wish list to him hoping that he will address them.
Mr Evans Oloo, the county UDA youth leader said Homa Bay has many youths who are unemployed.
He proposed to the government to revive the Kazi Mtaani programme as a short term solution to help youths in the county.
“Youths became idle after the programme was suspended. I hope the President revives it,” Mr Oloo said.
He also asked the head of state to offer a long term solution to unemployment by reviving collapsed industries in the region.
“Most industries that operated in the 1990s like the cotton industry have collapsed. There will be a lot of job opportunities for the youth if the government revives them,” he said.