Addressing residents who had been waiting for him since morning, the President scolded Nyanza residents for always turning up in large numbers in rallies but not doing the same at the ballot.
“I know you love Baba (Mr Odinga) but the problem is you people just make noise here lying to me but do not turn out during voting. I hope you will not disappoint me this time round. Ensure you come out to the last man to vote for Baba na Mama (running mate Martha Karua),” said President Kenyatta.
He added: “On August 9, do not talk to anyone who does not have ink on the finger. Tell them to go and vote first.”
The President insisted that the only person he can trust to continue with his development agenda is Mr Odinga, who is running against his estranged deputy William Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
He attributed his ability to steer the country smoothly to the handshake between him and Mr Odinga.
The President spoke at Oroba, Muhoroni where he landed to inspect the newly refurbished bridge and was expected to ride a train to the newly constructed Kenya Railways Corporation terminus in Kisumu.
This, however, did not happen since he was pressed for time. He instead flew to the terminus.
While addressing an ecstatic crowd at Oroba, he defended his move to launch various projects in the region, saying it’s his duty and that he was doing it across the country.
He promised residents of Miwani that the government will be establishing a special economic zone to offer job opportunities to locals.
“Do you want politics of insults and anger or development? The driver of development is my friend who is called Baba or Jakom (chairman) or Raila Amollo Odinga,” the President said.
The Head of State is on a tour of the region, which will see him visit Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties to drum up support for Mr Odinga.
Today, the President is expected to award a charter to Kaimosi Friends University and later head to Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma.
But before leaving Kisumu, he is set to preside over the commissioning of the Kisumu Ship Yard and the floatation of MV Uhuru II Wagon Ferry. The utilisation of the revitalised Kisumu Port received a further boost with the construction of MV Uhuru II.
The vessel, according to Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority, will have a total carrying capacity of 1,800 tonnes, which is 540 tonnes more than the refurbished MV Uhuru I.
Apart from the Kisumu Port rehabilitated to a tune of Sh3 billion and the ship yard where MV Uhuru II was constructed, other big push investments initiated in Kisumu include the Sh476 million Railway Training Institute Marine School, new passenger railways terminal and the refurbished 216km Nakuru-Kisumu meter gauge railway line.
There is also the Sh4.2 billion Lake Basin Development Authority Mall, Sh599 million Uhuru Business Park, Sh16 billion Olkana-Lessos-Kisumu power transmission line and the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium.
The 4.5-kilometre Sh2.8 billion Kisumu Boys roundabout-Mamboleo dual carriage road is almost done, same to the Mamboleo interchange, while construction of the 62-kilometre Mamboleo-Kipsitet Muhoroni road has started from the Muhoroni side.
The construction of the Kisumu Africities Convention Centre at Mamboleo showground is on, while works are ongoing at the Sh809 million Ahero-Kisii interchange.
The Sh24 billion Koru-Soin dam, which is expected to solve the perennial flooding of the Nyando river, is also in the pipeline.
Last mile water connectivity in the area, which was supposed to benefit a total of 4,000 households in Bondo town at a cost of Sh250 million, is to be completed and extended.
Road upgrade projects
The town – from where Mr Odinga comes from – also benefited from major road upgrade projects to ease movement as well as open up business opportunities in the area.
Business premises constructed on the road reserves have been served with vacation notices to allow room for the upgrade of the town.
The construction of the 27km Bondo-Uyawi-Liunda road at a cost of Sh2 billion is ongoing. The road will connect the town to other smaller towns and trading centres. The initial arrangement, according to the Presidential Delivery Unit, President Kenyatta was to launch the road before exiting office this month.
Other feeder roads that also got a facelift are within the town, and Opoda farm-Bondo town-Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University. The project was financed by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority.
The road connecting Bondo and Kang’o Kajaramogi also received a facelift after it was refurbished. Kang’o Kajaramogi is the home of Kenya’s first Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Mr Odinga’s father. It is gazetted as a National Museum.
All these projects had been abandoned until after the rapprochement between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta started with the 2018 handshake.
Siaya County also received a modern fish landing site that is part of the presidential flagship projects in Nyanza. It is ready for official launch according to Principal Secretary, State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy Francis Owino.
The site, which is located in Luanda Kotieno, Rarieda sub-county, was constructed at a cost of Sh140 million and will serve 2,000 fishermen.
“The modern facilities are essential in ensuring that the fishermen store their fish as they look for a market. For decades, the fishermen have been forced to sell fish to middle men at throw away prices,” said Dr Owino during an inspection tour.
He added: “This is one of the projects that is so dear to the President and soon they will be launched to begin operation. For decades, the fishing community in Nyanza had been forgotten, the construction of the landing sites is a sign of inclusion by the Jubilee government.”
Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo lauded the project saying tit will change the lives of fishermen in Rarieda sub-county.
“It is a new dawn for the fishing community in Rarieda. This facility will allow the fishermen to sell their product at a favourable price. There will be no hurry in selling fish to the middlemen,” said the legislator.
Until the handshake, the Nyanza region was perceived to have received very little in terms of projects from previous regimes. Afterwards,
the region received a number of big projects.
Other projects that were earmarked for unveiling by the Head of State are the Ugunja-Sega water project, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex and the inland container depot at Kibos.
Compared to previous heads of state, President Kenyatta has visited the Nyanza region more times in his second term in office. A move that has seen the likes of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria lament that the President had forgotten his central backyard and focused all his attention on an area that never voted for him.
Until a few months ago, accessing Opoda farm, Mr Odinga’s home in Bondo, and the one in Riat, Kisumu was as easy as visiting any other homestead – you didn’t need a prior appointment.
That is not the case anymore. Today one has to clearly state his or her mission and the person to be seen, and the host has to give the green light before the mean security personnel at the gates allow entry.
Whereas the state has provided all presidential candidates with security, it is the recarpeting of the roads leading to Opoda a while back that generated a lot of interest, with locals reading this as a confirmation that power was eventually coming home after four unsuccessful attempts.
They are waiting with bated breath for the historic moment, if it happens.
To the residents, the heightened activity around, and interest by the international press, might be a foreshadowing of Mr Odinga’s presidency.
The Nation is also pursuing reports that a number of Opoda farm neighbours may have been approached for possible compensation so as to be relocated. The intention, our sources say, is to create an adequate security buffer zone in the event of his victory.
Homes of presidents are treated as security installations, especially for the period they are in power.
In the past few elections, Kisumu and its environs would at a time like this be witnessing massive deployment of state security to pre-empt any election-related violence. What would follow would be brutal crackdowns that led to death and destruction.
Baby Pendo and tens of others lost their lives in the riots that followed the announcement of President Kenyatta’s victory in 2017.
Mr Reagan Odindo, a resident of Bondo told the Nation that the activities around Mr Odinga’s homes are a good sign ahead of next week’s elections.
Wind of leadership
“We are hoping for the best, the wind of leadership is blowing in our town. We have never witnessed anything of this sort for the past four attempts that Mr Odinga has run for president,” said Mr Odindo.
He added: “Contrary to other elections when we saw military tanks deployment to his strongholds, this time around we are seeing our son getting VIP security services.”
Additional reporting by Victor Raballa