Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa defends his ties with Ruto amid criticism

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa. [Nathan Ochunge,Standard]

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has hit back at his critics who have accused him of joining the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party led by President William Ruto.

Barasa, who is an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) governor, said he has a good working relationship with the President for the sake of development and does not need to seek permission from anyone to work with him.

"Shame on you to those out there (political detractors) saying I have joined UDA. I am an ODM governor but I have a good working relationship with the President for the sake of development," he said.

He spoke at Mukulusu village in Shinyalu Sub County during the burial of Mzee Charles Musonye on Sunday.

The governor said he supports the President's development agenda and will continue to work with him for the next five years.

"I want to affirm our support to the President when it comes to development matters and that's the work we are going to do for the next five years," said Barasa.

He said Ruto means well for the people of Kakamega and that his tour of the region was meant to bring development projects not politicking.

"It is you (voters) who elected MCAs, MPs, Women Rep, Senator and even me as your governor and Ruto as the President. Since we are serving the same people, the constitution recognises collaboration between national and county governments," said Barasa.

He added: "As governors, we don't have to apologise to anybody for working with the President. When we do that, it is the only way we are going to have meaningful development in Kakamega and the region at large."

Barasa said during Ruto's five-day tour of the region, the pronouncements he made about Mumias Sugar Company had seen 'sugar barons' withdraw all cases challenging its revival.

"You saw after his decree on Mumias sugar, everything started moving swiftly. The government has written off sugar debts and has promised to invest in cane development as a way of reviving the sugar sector. That's what we want and not political rhetoric," said Barasa.

Ruto had announced the writing off of debts owed by state-owned sugar companies to a tune of Sh117 billion.

Billionaire Jaswant Rai, owner of West Kenya Sugar Company and his brother Sarbjit Singh Rai of Uganda's Sarrai Group had been fighting for control of Mumias Sugar.

Sarbjit had taken over the sugar mill about a year ago, but Rai had contested the lease arrangement in court among other companies. But after Ruto's pronouncement over the issue, all the cases had been withdrawn.

"Those sugar cartels must get out of Mumias and withdraw all cases they have filed against the sugar factory," Ruto had said, adding that 'we shall entertain no court case against the company."

Others who have vowed to work with Ruto are Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo and Busia Governor Paul Otuoma, both from Azimio la Umoja party.

Ottichilo had said the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (Beta) was a noble idea enshrined in devolution, saying it was the main reason they would work with the government 100 percent.

"Politics is about people and economic empowerment. Let's plan for 'ourselves' and when we 'come together, we shall make a big change because Ruto means well for us," Otuoma had said.