• The President landed in Homa Bay county on Friday for a two-day tour of Nyanza region to inspect development projects.
• But the tour appears to have offered the country a rare glimpse of what could be in the offing in the political scheming of Raila Odinga.
The change of tact by the Azimio brigade in regards to the Luo Nyanza tour of President William Ruto has sent Raila Odinga's critics in the region back to the drawing board.
The President landed in Homa Bay county on Friday for a two-day tour of Nyanza region to inspect development projects.
But the tour appears to have offered the country a rare glimpse of what could be in the offing in the political scheming of Raila Odinga.
Soon after he lost the presidency at the August polls, a group of UDA-friendly politicians in Nyanza embarked on a spirited campaign to 'dethrone' Raila from what is considered his political stronghold.
The loss spelt a leadership "vacuum" which they hoped to fill.
A crop of leaders, mainly past poll losers in Siaya, Migori and Kisumu counties positioned themselves as the president's men in the region.
In Homa Bay, the UDA leaning leaders include Evans Kidero, Martin Ogindo and Odoyo Owidi among others.
In Migori, former governor is the most vocal and is joined by Omondi Anyanga, Dalmas Otieno among others.
In Kisumu those leaning toward UDA include former governor Jack Ranguma, former senator Fred Outa and former nominated senator Rose Nyamunga among others.
This team has in the recent past employed a political strategy of being combative, vilifying and attacking Raila at will in a bid to get the president's attention.
The most vocal in this team has been the immediate former LBDA chairman Odoyo Owidi.
The 'rebel' leaders seemingly hoped to capitalise on Ruto's tour to advance their ambition by taking the frontline during the president's visit.
However, Raila appeared to have caught critics in his backyard off-guard by imploring his brigade to go easy on the president during his tour of the three counties.
In a surprise move, Raila's lieutenants were at the forefront in according Ruto arousing welcome to Nyanza.
Like they did in Kabunde airstrip where elected leaders from Homa Bay lined up early to receive the president, a host of elected leaders from Kisumu county were on call Friday evening to welcome Ruto in Kisumu.
By encouraging Azimio leaders to engage the president directly and present to him issues bothering the electorates, Raila may have successfully edged out his fiercest of critics from Luo Nyanza that were pro-government.
The move by both the president and Raila's brigade to work together to spur development across the region, could have come as a shocker to this team.
Like those in Jubilee administration who found themselves displaced during handshake era, this team may have to rethink their political strategy moving forward in order to remain relevant.
The strategy to warm up to the president and government was employed by Raila following the handshake with former president Uhuru Kenyatta .
He used the same strategy during the merger and cooperation between his NDP and former President Daniel Moi.
The new calculations could signal a change of strategy by Azimio leadership as it focus on 2027.
Raila reportedly met elected leaders from the region ahead of the president's visit in Nairobi on Wednesday.
He is understood to have asked the leaders to ensure the president is given a befitting welcome during the visit for the sake of development.
However, Ruto's visit was loaded with political undertones with his deputy Rigathi Gachagua hinting that they were looking for friendship in the region.
Addressing the public in Homa Bay, the president and his deputy assured the region that they will not be marginalised.
"We know you support Baba. But even Baba is ours. We will ensure this administration respect and treat him as a dignified national leader. If Baba is ours, then you too belongs to us,'' the deputy president said.
Ruto also noted that he was willing to work closely with elected leaders from the area regardless of how the region voted .
"We want to unite the country and ensure we move forward together. No region would be left behind in regards to Kenya Kwanza's development agenda," he said.
Although launched in Homa Bay by the area elected leaders, Kisumu immediately followed the script.
Led by Kisumu governor Anyan'g Nyong'o, MPs Jared Okelo (Nyando), Joshua Oron (Kisumu Central), Dr James Nyikal ( Seme), Shakil Shabir (Kisumu East) and senator Tom Ojienda made sure they made Ruto feel welcome in the lakeside city.
They also attended a luncheon at Kisumu State Lodge hosted by the President.
Later they had a meeting with the president during which they presented a raft of issues that they would want to see addressed on behalf of their supporters.
Leaders from Migori, led by governor Ochilo Ayako also had a separate meeting with the president at Kisumu state Lodge.
This was a complete departure from the way the region and its leadership has received Ruto in the past .
Last October, while in Homa Bay, he was shunned by the Azimio elected leaders and while campaigning late 2021, his convoy was pelted with stones as rowdy Odinga's supporters scared him out of Kisumu’s Kondele area.
On Friday, the president commissioned a multi-million modern municipal market at Homa Bay town.
He also launched the first phase of the affordable housing project in the county that will see 5000 units built.
During the visit, the president and his deputy received various gifts from the excited residents as a way to showcase the community's hospitable nature.
The president also announced plans for various development projects by his administration for the area .
Among them, the president said a fish market will be constructed in Homa Bay. The market that would include fish processing unit would be commissioned in December
Infrastructure, agriculture and water projects also received a boost as the president announced that his government will team up with the county government and the local leaders to ensure key but dilapidated roads and the water problem is fixed.
He also promised to ensure new piers are built and pledged to revamp all stalled government projects in the area.