President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto will next month tour western Kenya, only days after opposition chief Raila Odinga’s five-day visit to area.
Though planned earlier, the President’s trip will certainly be used to counter Mr Odinga’s charm offensive in which he discredited the Jubilee administration and rally the region’s voters to back the governing coalition.
During his five-day tour, Mr Odinga accused the Jubilee administration of neglecting the area, entrenching corruption and extrajudicial killings.
The ODM chief was also keen to take credit for the projects which the President is scheduled to launch during his trip.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washili said the President will launch development projects in the water and education sectors, including awarding a Charter to the Kaimosi Friends University in Vihiga.
“Jubilee has been in the process of helping western region and has not sidelined it. Vihiga, for instance, has benefited from a water project of Sh1.7 billion and the President will personally launch it,” said Mr Wamalwa.
Mr Washiali said President Kenyatta will also tour the Webuye Paper mills.
“We are looking forward to the visit which will involve activities to revive key development projects in the region including the Pan Paper mills factory in Webuye,” said Mr Washiali.
The President is also expected to launch the Sigiri Bridge in former ODM secretary general Ababu Namwamba’s Budalangi constituency.
Speaking in Budalangi on Friday where he hosted Education Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, Mr Namwamba, who resigned from the ODM post citing frustration by Mr Odinga and his allies, welcomed the President to area. The President commissioned construction of the bridge in 2014 after a boat tragedy that claimed several lives.
The two ministers, Dr Matiang’i and Mr Wamalwa, will on Monday tour Vihiga to assess the project ahead of the visit.
The ministers will pay Governor Moses Akaranga a courtesy call before heading to Kaimosi Friends University College that was gazetted in September 2014.
Mr Odinga has for the past week been waging a spirited campaign to sustain his grip on the region which voted for him in the last election but which is under intense pressure by local leaders to abandon him.
Loss of the region will not only injure his presidential campaign but also his stature in the Cord coalition where he has partnered with former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula.
Mr Odinga’s five-day tour was meant to calm a restless region which is under pressure by local leaders to pull out of the Orange party and chart its own cause.
“Jubilee has not done the kilometers of roads it promised. I initiated this Busia-Malaba Road yet they now want to come and lie to you people that they are bringing you development. Tell them off and ask them where they have been all this time,” Mr Odinga said in Busia.
The tour saw the Cord leader, who was accompanied by a battalion of coalition politicians, address a series of rallies in Vihiga, Busia and Kakamega counties which are under intense pressure to decamp from ODM for Jubileee.
Two weeks ago Mr Namwamba quit his position as secretary-general while Funyula MP Paul Otuoma resigned as vice-chairman.
Besides, senior politicians such as Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, have been rallying the Luhyia to abandon Mr Odinga and vote for one of their own.