President Uhuru Kenyatta’s last minute decision to skip Migori County during his tour of Nyanza region has stirred debate as politicians prepare their wish-lists for the Head of State.
The President and his deputy William Ruto were scheduled to visit Kuria on Monday before heading to the two Abagusii counties.
The Kuria tour was cancelled following claims that elders who were scheduled to host Uhuru were sharply divided.
Kuria, Kisii and Nyamira are considered swing vote blocs hence the frequent visits by both National Super Alliance (NASA) and Jubilee Party leaders.
Sources say the President and his deputy were expected to launch the Motemorabu-Masaba road in Kisii and the Migori-Kehancha road in Migori before addressing the Kuria community in Isebania.
But Mathias Robi, the Jubilee point man in the region, downplayed the cancellation and attributed it to the President’s impromptu visit to Kenyan troops in Somalia.
This was a different story from what reliable sources and a senior administrator in the region told The Standard. They said the tour had been cancelled on recommendation following a meeting between the Kikuyu Council of Elders and their Kuria counterparts in Migori at the weekend.
“There are serious and deeply-rooted clan politics in this region that must be ironed out before the President can come to Kuria,” a senior Government official said.
But Mr Robi said the elders’ meeting was organised by only one clan, adding that he was not aware of it.
Trouble began brewing two months after Mr Ruto got a hostile reception in Isebania on the same day that ODM leader Raila Odinga had a parallel rally in Isebania and Nyatike to mobilise voter registration.
On January 19, Robi, the Kuria West MP and a close ally of Ruto’s, was forced to flee after a charged crowd turned hostile just hours before Raila was set to hold a rally at the same place.
Raila accused Ruto of trying to derail his rally that day, forcing heavily armed security officers to come in and restore order.
Ruto then held a rally at Moi Nyabohanze Girls Secondary School where he gave out Sh1 million in cash and promised to send Sh4 million more in aid of building a dormitory.
In anticipation of Uhuru’s visit and possibly to do a ground check, the Kikuyu Council of Elders held a closed-door meeting with Jubilee officials in Migori and representatives from the two clans in Kuria on Saturday, with the other clans reportedly giving the meeting a wide berth.
The Kikuyu elders chairman, Wachira Kiago, said Jubilee got 32 per cent of the votes in Migori, the bulk of which came from Kuria, which is why they were out to consolidate the Kuria vote for Jubilee in the area.
“We are also here to preach peaceful campaigns not only in Migori but also across the country,” Mr Kiago said.
Charles Nyangi, the Isebania MCA elected on a TNA ticket and the Leader of Minority in the Migori county assembly, said Robi was threatening some of them, saying they would not get Jubilee Party tickets.
“We want Jubilee to give us a national representative because the party is divided in Kuria and might cost the party positions and votes. Our leaders at the national level are each pulling from their own ends thus dividing the people and the party,” Mr Nyangi said.
He added that despite voting Jubilee in 2013, the community did not get any major positions in the national government and said they felt cheated.
His counterpart from Makerero ward who vied on a URP ticket said if Jubilee continued to take them for granted, they would mobilise the Kurian community out of the coalition.
Meanwhile, Gusii leaders have called for peace as the President visits the region to launch a number of development projects worth over Sh2 billion starting tomorrow’.
South Mugirango and Kitutu Masaba MPs Manson Nyamweya and Timothy Bosire said they did not want to see a repeat of what happened in Mombasa early last week.
However, Mr Bosire said the top Jubilee leaders’ visit was a mere public relations and campaign trip.
“The President had five years to launch all these projects but he chose to ignore the community. We welcome him to the region but let him tell us what he has done and not what he intends to do because his time is up,” he said.
The President will launch key water projects funded by African Development Bank in partnership with the national government. A project in Kisii County that has not gone down well with residents is the rehabilitation of Suneka Airstrip.
Nyamweya warned that no amount of incitement and financial influence will make the community voting for Jubilee.
“Some of these projects are funded by International organizations. Let truth be told. All development projects funded by the government through busget approvals. This is done by parliament and not the executive,” he said.
— Reports by Scophine Otieno, Eric Abuga and Stanly Ongwae