What you need to know:
- While hitting at the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) brigade led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, the Ruto team said it is only keen on expanding the Executive.
- The meeting highlighted unemployment among youth, lack of direct capital flow and lack of business opportunities for women as well as basic subsistence for the common mwananchi as the local community’s key challenges.
Deputy President William Ruto continued his charm offensive in Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s strongholds on Sunday, with his close allies holding meetings with youths to drive his ‘hustler movement’ agenda.
A delegation led by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and politician Eliud Owalo continued its push to strengthen Dr Ruto's support base in Kisumu County with a working breakfast at Ciala Resort.
Their visit to the county came days after Mr Owalo, who recently decamped from Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress, led campaigns in Siaya County.
Mr Owalo, whose roots are in Rarieda, the same constituency as Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, launched the ‘hustler movement’ coordination team in Siaya on Friday.
It consists of youths, women leaders, small scale traders, professionals, elders, the clergy, people living with disabilities and opinion leaders.
The team has been tasked with spearheading DP Ruto’s 2022 agenda for the presidency.
At the meeting on Sunday, the Ruto team hit out at the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) brigade, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, saying it is only keen on expanding the Executive.
The meeting highlighted unemployment among youth, lack of direct capital flow and lack of business opportunities for women as well as basic subsistence for the common mwananchi as the local community’s key challenges.
“This is an opportunity to move from our ethnic enclaves and tribal chiefs to a national unitary political formation and a progressive development agenda aligned to the needs of the common Mwananchi,” said Mr Owalo, who once was Mr Odinga’s strategist.
The politician also stressed the need for all the groups supporting the DP in the region to work together.
“The consolidated team will spearhead ‘hustler’ programmes and activities in the county, including but not limited to the Bill Ruto presidential campaigns,” he said.
Mr Owalo added that the meeting also discussed the need to change the narrative from tribal politicking to development.
John Odenyo, secretary of the Nyanza Youth Movement for Ruto 2022, said the visit by Mr Sudi and Mr Owalo was aimed at ironing out youths’ issues and bringing together the many groups supporting the DP in the area.
“Mr Sudi asked us to consolidate the more than 15 groups that have been drumming up support for the DP so that we avoid conflicts that may affect our course,” said Mr Odenyo.
He dismissed claims that Dr Ruto’s supporters from Nyanza are only after his money.
“We are not after money but a noble course that will help us. This is a narrative which ODM leaders and supporters have been using to discredit us since they are rattled by the rapid organic growth of youth support for Ruto in this region,” he said.
Present at the meeting were elders William Ndalo and Hezbon Oguk, Nyanza Youth for Ruto Coordinators led by Robert Okongo, Oliver Ochieng and John Odenyo, and members of the Kisumu chapter of the Hustler Nation Movement led by Lucy Ayuma.
Others were the Kisumu County Hustlers Aspirants’ Caucus led by Joy Roberts and local leaders led by councilors Yusuf Masudi, Ouko Kirindo, George Ondere, Sam Ondiek and Dr Erick Ochola, who unsuccessfully contested for the Milimani Market MCA seat.
Mr Sudi has been concentrating on Kisumu as he tries to popularise Dr Ruto in the ODM territory, having hosted a delegation of youths from Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu counties in August.
He was in the company of his Tangatanga counterparts Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati).
In July, the vocal lawmaker discreetly visited Kisumu with Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and met youth leaders. He had attended a dowry payment ceremony in Siaya and toured Kisumu, eating fish at the famous Dunga Beach and interacting with youths.
Mr Sudi said at the time that the visit was solely aimed at selling the DP as the best alternative and that they would visit other counties with the same goal.
The DP is keen on wooing ODM supporters, his targets being the Luo and South Nyanza, Western, Coast and Nairobi.
ODM leaders in Kisumu have downplayed his efforts so far, saying they will have little impact. Prof Ayiecho Olweny, the party’s county coordinating committee chair, insists that ODM’s support remains unshaken.
But the party hurriedly convened a delegates’ conference days to the much-hyped visits by Dr Ruto, at which Mr Odinga criticised the DP and his ‘hustler’ narrative.The apparent goal was to pour cold water on the DP’s plans.
The DP’s planned tour to the region last week did not materialise so the team requested him to urgently take an extensive tour of Kisumu as soon as possible, to interact with his supporters and popularise his candidature and agenda.