President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have a busy weekend with public engagements in Nyanza region that voted overwhelmingly for the Opposition in last year’s general elections.
Visits to Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties comes as the Raila Odinga-led CORD steps up anti-Jubilee campaigns in rallies and days after the ruling coalition MPs urged the Jubilee leaders to hold more meetings.
Today, Deputy President Willian Ruto will pitch tent in Kisii but Uhuru will join him on Saturday and Monday. Uhuru and Ruto secured over 25 per cent of the valid votes cast in Kisii while Raila, swept a whopping 70 per cent of the votes.
President Uhuru will attend the funeral for Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno’s daughter, Ephline Otieno, on Saturday before heading to the neigbouring Kisii and Nyamira counties on Monday.
Yesterday, Mr Otieno told The Standard that the President had confirmed attendance.
“Yes I can confirm to you that the President will be coming to consolemy family and it is a good gesture. We all have appreciated,” he said.
Kangeso village in Rongo, where Otieno’s home is situated, has been a busy place since Tuesday as security agents from Migori County prepared for the event.
On Monday, the President will tour a number of projects in Nyamira and Kisii counties. The visit is also part of a request made by several Gusii leaders who called on the President at State House few months ago. Nyaribari Chache MP Richard Tong’i said President Kenyatta will hold a leaders meeting in Menyenya, Borabu constituency and address roadside rallies at Kijauri and Keroka markets then head to Kisii School for the celebrations in his Monday visit. Uhuru is also expected to commission the construction of Kijauri-Manga-Raitigo Road.
Other issues likely to feature during the visit include the construction of Mogonga-Kenyenya Road and construction of the Suneka airstrip.
“We expect a huge turnout to welcome the President to the region on Monday. The tour is part of the requests we made to the President during our early meetings,” said Tong’i.
Borabu MP Ben Momanyi and Information Communication Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi will host the President in Nyamira County before he moves to Kisii County to mark the Kisii School’s 80th anniversary.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae said several other dignitaries are expected at the ceremony.
“This is a special occasion because a number of key leaders in the country will be in attendance having passed through the school during their different academic years,” said Ongwae.
The visits come barely two weeks to the Bonchari by-election (June 23), with Jubilee backing Ford-People Candidate Zebedeo Opore.
Today, Ruto will be at Riokondo Boys High school in Bomachoge Borabu Constituency, Kenyenya District, where he will conduct a Harambee. He will then proceed to the neighbouring Bomachoge Chache Constituency for another fundraiser at Tendere Girls Secondary School.
While in Migori, Uhuru is likely to share the platform with Raila and other CORD leaders.
“I want to tell you that Raila is not a political coward to fear attending an event also attended by people he might have had political differences with. The President is welcome in Luo Nyanza but we believe there will be no political fireworks as this will be mourning moment,” a close ally of Raila from Luo Nyanza told The Standard.
Uhuru’s visit will further stoke speculation about his growing ties with Otieno, whom the President recently appointed as the special envoy to South Sudan.
Dalmas has declared he would form another political party to face off with Raila’s Orange Democratic Party in 2017.
This will be Uhuru’s first visit to Migori County as Head of State and the second to Nyanza. He visited Kisumu and Nyando soon after he was sworn in when he attended the burial of former Knut secretary general David Okuta.
“We do not expect the President to visit Nyanza only during funerals. As the President of the Republic, Uhuru needs to visit all parts of Kenya and ensure that his Government is delivering on the promises he made,” said Suna East MP Junet Muhammed.
Dalmas said he was mourning the death of his beloved daughter and would welcome all those who would condole with him.
“I am concentrating on giving my daughter a befitting send-off. My family is in mourning and I expect those who will attend the funeral to be humbled and keep politics aside,” said Dalmas.
Ruto has forged a close working relationship with the county government of Kisii. The DP has also been in Migori. In March, area governor Okoth Obado, who is battling the nullification of his election at the Supreme Court, hosted him.