Ruto’s headache as he seeks to reward his Kakamega allies
President William Ruto faces an uphill task as he seeks to reward his allies from Kakamega county.
Kakamega is regarded as the bedrock of Western politics and has the highest number of voters currently at over 840,000. But the county has been sidelined over the years with key positions in the successive governments held by residents of Vihiga, Bungoma, Busia and Trans Nzoia counties.
Leaders from the region who held top positions in the county were not from Kakamega yet relied on the county for their support.
These included Joseph Daniel Otiende, Moses Mudavadi and Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi from Vihiga which, interestingly, have the lowest number of voters.
Others were Michael Wamalwa Kijana, Dr Noah Wekesa and Eugene Ludovic Wamalwa from Trans Nzoia, John Joseph Osogo, Julia Auma Ojiambo, Moody Awori, Chris Okemo, Philip Masinde, Dr Mukasa Mango and Yekoyada Masakhalia from Busia and Elijah Wasike Mwangale, Pius Mukhisa Kituyi, Musikari Nazi Kombo and Moses Masika Wetangula from Bungoma.
Former Lurambi MP Dr. Newton Wanjala Kulundu is the only resident of Kakamega who served as a Cabinet Minister between 2003 and 2007. Thus, the appointment of the then Butere MP Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya as Minister for Planning in the 2007 to 2013 Grand Coalition Government by then Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga endeared the ODM leader to the residents of Kakamega who have rallied behind him since then.
President Ruto will be seeking a second term come 2027, and is, thus, keen on battling for a piece of Kakamega through appointments in his government.
A section of leaders and analysts said yesterday that the President should play his cards carefully if he expects to win over Kakamega ahead of the next elections.
“President William Ruto finds himself between the proverbial hammer and the anvil. He has strong allies who are expecting to be rewarded once he announces his new government,” said Fred Harrison Wesonga (pictured), an analyst from the County.“Hon. Benjamin Washiali who has been a staunch ally of Ruto and even declined to defend his seat as MP for Mumias East just to concentrate on campaigns for the President. Can he expect anything lesser than a Cabinet position?” he added.
The President is under pressure to also reward former Senator Cleophas Malalah and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa.
There are also veteran politicians such as Malava MP Moses Malulu Injendi and younger ones like Fred Lusuli Ikana of Shinyalu who are expecting to secure positions in parliamentary committees.
Senator Boni Ikhunyalo Khalwale has already landed the post of Majority Whip.
Supporters of all the leaders have been expressing their confidence on social media that they would land senior positions in government.
Leaders from Kakamega have variously lamented that they were being sidelined by mainly Vihiga and Bungoma yet the county had the highest number of votes.
ANC leader Mudavadi, from Vihiga, is angling for the position Prime Cabinet Secretary while his Ford-Kenya counterpart Wetangula, from Bungoma, has already been rewarded with the post of National Assembly Speaker.
Raila had promised to pick Oparanya as his CS for National Treasury if he won the August 9 elections.
This is is said to have contributed to Azimio-One Kenya Coalition Party’s strong showing in the polls.