Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga to welcome Ruto during Nyanza visit
President William Ruto’s visit to the Nyanza region this weekend will place opposition leaders between a rock and a hard place as they try to balance between supporting their party leader Raila Odinga and embracing state-funded projects for their constituents.
The President is expected at the lakeside region, opposition leader Raila Odinga’s home ground, for a four-day development tour.
Among the counties he will visit is Homa Bay where he is slated to launch a number of development projects that will mainly help fishermen.
The area borders the expansive Lake Victoria.
The Head of State’s visit is expected to put opposition leaders in a dilemma as they try to balance between accompanying him and sticking to calls from their party leader who has criticized the President for launching devolved projects in counties.
Most leaders in Homa Bay support Mr Odinga who insists President Ruto is using devolved projects for political gain.
Instead, Mr Odinga, a former prime minister, prefers the Head of State to ensure funds are sent to devolved units to fund projects that will be launched by governors.
Governor Gladys Wanga, who is likely to accompany the Head of State during the tour in Homa Bay, defended herself in advance.
She welcomed the Head of State to her county.
But she clarified that it should not be mistaken that she supports Kenya Kwanza.
She said plans by the government should unite the Luo community so that the region can benefit from what the government offers.
The governor argued that the county is Mr Odinga’s political stronghold but should equally benefit from development projects initiated by the government.
“Homa Bay has both ODM and UDA supporters. Political differences should not divide us at the expense of development,” the county boss said.
Ms Wanga said she still supports her party leader and is ready to do as Mr Odinga commands, including holding demonstrations against the government.
But she also clarified that her administration is ready to collaborate with the government for development.
“I am in the opposition but also ready to work with the government for the development of our people,” Ms Wanga said.
Residents challenged their leaders to accompany the President.
This is after past visits by the Head of State were marred with controversy when some leaders claimed they were not invited to accompany the head of state.
Human rights activist Micheal Kojo said the meeting has been made public and no leader should claim that they were not invited to the presidential event.
“The leaders were elected and they represent the people. They should put our interest before the president,” he said.
Mr Kojo said the opposition leader should be at the forefront in welcoming the president.
He said the two have worked together in the past and should collaborate for the benefit of Kenyans.
“We should not be forced against working with the president. The Head of State is free to go anywhere he wants,” he said.
Meanwhile, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) allied politicians have asked their Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) colleagues to shun politics during the President’s visit.
UDA is the ruling party while ODM is the main opposition party.
The UDA members said that the time has come for all the elected leaders in Homa Bay to shun politics and focus on development.
All eight MPs in Homa Bay were elected on the ODM party ticket but only one, Caroli Omondi of Suba South has publicly announced he is ready to work with President Ruto.
Former Members of the County Assembly (MCA) Juma Awuor (Homa Bay Homa East) and Julius Nyambok (Homa Bay Central), UDA Homa Bay Woman leader Tabitha Nyandiek, Homa Bay Town Constituency Chairman Jacob Ochola, and Secretary Erick Osoro said elected leaders in the county should collaborate with the government to spur development.
Mr Awuor said too much politics impedes development.
He said development can only be achieved well if leaders in the county cooperate with the government.
“Politics is already overtaken by events. Let our leaders start working with the government during the forthcoming visit on development,” Awuor said.
Mr Osoro appealed to the President to bring electric motorbikes to Homa Bay to enhance employment creation for the youth.
Meanwhile, Mr Nyandiek urged women to utilise the opportunities that the government has started to empower them.