Ruto’s backing of Raila for coveted AU chairperson’s job softs hostile Nyanza

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024 02:16 | By
President William Ruto arrives for the official opening of the Second Homa Bay County International Investment Conference in Homa Bay County on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. PHOTO/PCS

President William Ruto was yesterday given a red carpet welcome in Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard largely attributed to the Head of State’s backing of his archival for a top job with the Africa Union.

Ruto’s triumphant entry to Homa Bay came a day after he and Raila were hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kisozi, western Uganda, setting the stage for yesterday’s rapturous welcome for a President who appears determined to build bridges with the Opposition chief by supporting his bid for the chairperson’s post at the African Union Commission.

The reception accorded the Head of State during opening of the Homa Bay Investment Conference was in stark contrast to the previous hostilities displayed by local leaders when the President came calling.
Notably, a host of Opposition MPs from the greater Nyanza region who had previously shunned the President’s forays were at hand to receive him.

They included host Governor Gladys Wanga, her Siaya counterpart James Orengo, area Senator Moses Kajwang’, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma and Woman Rep Joyce Osogo alias Bensouda.
Ruto was all smiles as he freely interacted with the leaders, while unveiling a host of goodies his government has earmarked for a region that has previously accused the Kenya Kwanza administration of marginalising it.

“When I campaigned and slept here in Homa Bay, I promised a government of national unity. And as I promised, you can see for yourself…needless to belabour the point. The writing is there for all to see,” he said amid cheers.

Ruto recalled how the local ODM leadership had previously boycotted his tours of the county, saying he was glad that this time round, they were all present.

“I have come here five times and the ODM MPs have been ignoring me. I am glad today I see them here. That is good. We want to work together for the unity of all,” he said.

“What we want in Kenya is unity. We want a win -win situation,” asserted Ruto amidst applause from the multitude which graced the event.

President recalled how he had previously suffered hostilities from some of the Opposition MPs. “Sasa siasa imeisha. What we need now is transformational leadership. Let us us come together and reason together and see what we can do for Kenya to move forward, trashing our political and ethnic prejudices for the common good of the nation,” Ruto stated.

He announced that his administration had set aside billions of shillings to promote various economic stimulus development projects in the region.

The President called on the residents to support the government as it endeavours to deliver development to the region.

He disclosed that his administration had set aside Sh1.5 billion this Financial Year to construct 11 fish landing sites across Lake Victoria and round the Indian Ocean as they look forward to harness and exploit the hitherto underutilised blue economic potential as a source of food security and maritime business growth.

The sites will be set up in Homa Bay, Migori, Kisumu, and Siaya counties.
In Homa Bay, some of the few fish landing bays are at Nyandiwa, Wakula and Mainuga beaches.

Ruto also explained that his government was keen to promote sunflower seeds production in the lakeside county to boost food and nutritional security, adding that last year, they produced 500 metric tonnes of sunflower.

“Already, we have worked with Homa Bay to boost sunflower seeds production. Last year, we produced 500 metrics tonnes and now we are in the process of ensuring Homa Bay produces up to 200,000 of sunflower seeds on 500 hectares,” said Ruto.

He expressed gratitude that maize production was on the rise in the region and across the country due to the subsidized fertiliser since he came into power, saying this will in turn bring down the cost of living. He also called upon Nyanza residents to venture into agri-business and agro-processing industries through the launch of special economic zones.

Already, agricultural production has posted good returns with the country producing 67 million metrics tonnes of maize, up from the previous 44 million, the President noted.

This year, President Ruto said, the government is focusing on harvesting at least 80 million tonnes of maize.

These development in the agricultural sector would help ease the burden of spending almost Sh500 billion each year on food imports alone, to bridge the domestic production shortfall.

The State, he said, would also focus on production of wheat, rice and cotton to reduce the costly imports, by ensuring value addition in all the production and supplies value chain.

President Ruto officially launched the recently gazetted Riwa Special Economic Zone in Homa Bay.
Present during the function included Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya and his Tourism and Wildlife colleague Alfred Mutua, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah.

More on News