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How Ruto plans to storm Nyanza

By Harold Odhiambo | May 17th 2021
Deputy President William Ruto point in Nyanza met at a Nairobi hotel to plan what they described as their economic strategy for the region. [File, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto’s quest to infiltrate the Nyanza region ahead of next year’s elections is gaining momentum as his new allies in the region stepped up efforts to popularise him.

The leaders, most of who are considered ODM rebels after falling out with party leader Raila Odinga, are pushing for a generational change in the region’s leadership and a new economic path in their efforts to market the DP.

Last week, leaders who included one of Ruto’s point men in Nyanza, Eliud Owalo, met at a Nairobi hotel to plan what they described as their economic strategy for the region. 

They said their strategy will form the basis of their negotiations with other presidential hopefuls ahead of 2022. According to them, anyone seeking the support of the region will have to enter into a pre-election economic pact with them.

This comes as Raila struggles to calm a storm that recently rocked ODM leading to Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo being kicked out of a key parliamentary committee. 

Many former foot soldiers of Raila attended Friday’s meeting convened by Owalo, who is also a former aide to the ODM leader. They include those who decamped after losing ODM nominations in the 2013 and 2017 elections, among them former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo.

Ranguma is hoping to challenge Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o for the Kisumu seat.

Citizen’s Convention Party (CCP) leader Grace Akumu, who confirmed to The Standard that she has joined Ruto’s camp, also attended the meeting.

A source who did not wish to be named said those present were warming up to join United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is associated with the deputy president. 

“We want to challenge ODM’s dominance in the Nyanza region. Our goal is to rally the region to support Ruto’s presidential bid,” said the source. 

The politician claimed that they have the blessings of Ruto to organise the meeting with one of the agendas being to look for ways to attract more Nyanza leaders to their camp.

The strategy also involves attracting professionals from the region who will help compile the economic needs of the region in a document that will form the basis for Ruto’s campaigns in Nyanza. 

The group issued a statement saying it was reviewing Nyanza’s economy with the aim of finding ways to improve it.

Owalo accused unnamed leaders from Nyanza of being preoccupied with the pursuit of political power and failing to address the economic problems of the region.

Luo Nyanza has supported Raila since his first attempt at the presidency in 1997. In 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta, with the help of the former secretary-general of the disbanded. The National Alliance party Onyango Oloo tried to make inroads in the region, but residents voted for the opposition leader. 

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