Ruto tours Raila backyard with bag of goodies
President William Ruto will today begin a two-day whirlwind tour of Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard with a bag of goodies.
The President is scheduled to tour Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya counties at a time he and his allies have heightened an offensive to win the hearts and minds of a region that has always overwhelmingly voted for Raila.
During his two-day tour of the region, the President will launch the first phase of the 5,000 affordable housing programmes in Homa Bay county as well as inspect and launch other projects in the region, including commissioning the newly completed Homa Bay Municipal Market.
The visit will also see him commission the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Blue Economy Research Hub and meet local leaders from both sides of the political divide.
Dr Ruto’s allies in the region are said to have prepared a wish list to present to him that includes push for revival of maritime transport connecting the four riparian counties bordering Lake Victoria, revival of the sugar and cotton industries, improvement of the Kisumu Airport to an international standard and completion of the ‘Handshake projects’ initiated by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila.
President Ruto has on many occasions stated that he will work with all Kenyans regardless of their ethnic orientation or political affiliation.
A preliminary itinerary of his visit to Nyanza indicates that he will be in Homa Bay to commission the housing projects and then address the public in town.
He will then fly straight to Kisumu State Lodge for an evening meeting with UDA officials and later local leaders and senior government officials in the region to discuss growth and development.
The visits come at a time when several former ODM governors and MPs in Nyanza have started shifting their allegiance to Ruto’s administration in a new political realignment and dispensation in the region.
The former leaders have consequently vowed to work closely with the Kenya Kwanza leadership to market the President on their electoral turf.
Although they have been facing political resistance and stiff opposition, the former county chiefs and legislators have vowed to soldier on with their mission, saying doing so would be the tipping point.
The leaders are former governors Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Okoth Obado (Migori), Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and former Siaya governor aspirant Nicholas Gumbo.
Some current MPs such as David Ochieng (Ugenya) and Caroli Omondi (Suba South) are also working closely with the Kenya Kwanza administration. This could shift the political balance in Nyanza.
Former MPs include Fred Outa (Kisumu Senator), Rose Nyamunga (Kisumu Woman Rep), Nominated MP Edick Anyanga (Nyatike) and Augustinho Neto (Ndhiwa).
Others are former MPs Silvance Osele (Kasipul-Kabondo), Martin Ogindo (Rangwe), Ochieng Daima (Nyakach), Jared Opiyo (Awendo) and former Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) chairman Odoyo Owidi.
Ruto through his ICT and Digital Economy Csbinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has been wooing the region that voted overwhelmingly for the Opposition to support him.
Owalo will be hosting the President at his home on Saturday, in a ceremony where allegiance politics is likely to play out in the open democratic quest.
During the visit, Ruto will also address the public in various unmarked stop-overs, according to sources privy to his visit but cagey to disclose his every move.
Yesterday, Owalo attended the 101st Anniversary Commemoration of the founder of the Nomiya Church, the late Johana Owalo, who died in 1921 at the Nomiya Church headquarters, at Aboch, Asembo about 200 metres from Akala market.
The CS is a grandson of the late Johana and a son to the immediate former Archbishop of the church, the late Most Rev. Archbishop Gideon Charles Owalo.
Owalo asked the people of Nyanza to give President Ruto a warm welcome assuring them that he is coming with a lot of goodies. “You will see that Dr Ruto means well for you when he lands in Nyanza. Don’t be pessimistic, be optimistic, good is coming your way, all we need is your enduring support,’’ said the ICT minister.
It will be the second time that Ruto will be visiting Nyanza since he was elected in the August General Election last year.
Interior and National Administration PS Dr Raymond Omollo hosted him during his first visit at a fundraiser for a local church, where he promised to launch the low cost housing units.
Omollo urged the people of Nyanza to support the President’s development agenda and assured them of more development projects in diverse areas.
“We have lined up more for the region,’’ said Omollo in a separate interview.
Homa Bay’s new housing project is expected to not only alleviate the housing deficit in the county but also significantly boost the local economy.
The project will cover Oyugis, Kendu Bay and Mbita, State House Spokesperson Mohammed Hussein told the media in Kisumu yesterday.
The affordable housing programme, for instance, Hussein said, is a key plank of the government’s economic transformational agenda. Hussein said it is not only about low-cost and decent housing needs but to create jobs for thousands of youth to stimulate the local economy.
“In this programme, just as the others he has launched, housing parts such as doors, windows, gates, and hinges will be supplied by local Jua Kali associations,’’ said Hussein.
In a press conference held at Kisumu state lodge, the State House Spokesman urged the residents to take advantage of the coming housing projects and many more to do business with the government.
“This will boost the local economy and put money in the pockets of hustlers in Homa Bay county,’’ claimed Hussein.
Jua Kali enterprises will expand and create jobs and wealth for the three million people in the sub-sector. Homa Bay county was the first to sign the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in April 2018.
Homa Bay governor Gladys Wanga, the county has set aside 11.6 acres for the affordable housing project. This support is critical to achieving the president’s housing agenda to house our citizens with dignity.
Already, 39 counties have identified land on which affordable houses will be built.
Hussein noted that it is in line with the President’s commitment to reduce the housing gap, which currently stands at 2 million units.
It targets to increase supply from 50,000 to 200,000, a year and has a robust and active pipeline of 376 projects to deliver over 599,000 housing units across the country.
Already, the President has commissioned 13,076 units of Mukuru in Nairobi, and Kibera Soweto B 4,054 units.
Others are Mavoko Affordable Housing units of 5,360 which underscore the ambitious and sustained plans by the government to ease housing shortage.