While the development agenda dominated the itinerary of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto’s tour of Nakuru County, the visit was meant to consolidate their support ahead of 2017 elections.
In the two-day visit, the two continually urged their supporters to ensure Jubilee party remains united to ensure their re-election.
At their first stop in Molo, Mr Ruto said Nakuru holds a special place in his heart and that of the President, given the role it played in the formation of the Jubilee Government.
Jubilee Alliance, which is made up of The National Alliance (TNA) party and Mr Ruto’s United Republic Party (URP) was officially united at Afraha Stadium.
“It is the people of Nakuru who started Jubilee, and that is how the government of Jubilee was born and we thank you Nakuru people, we are telling you the Jubilee Government does what it promises,” the deputy president said.
“I want to ask you Nakuru people, do you want us to unite or go back to wrangling? Do you support that we should unite and work together? He posed to the crowd, to a resounding yes.
“That is why we are saying in 2013 we formed this government using a coalition but in 2017 we want to unite in one party with one leader, Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, so that we can unite all regardless of their tribal or religious backgrounds,” he said.
The region voted overwhelmingly for Mr Kenyatta and was second after his home county of Kiambu in delivering the highest number of votes in the 2013 elections.
Last year, the Jubilee leadership resolved to dissolve all the Jubilee parties and form the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).
The two principals criticised Jubilee rebels in the Rift Valley opposed to the merger, declaring that there was no turning back on their plans to go to the ballot box next August as a united party.
This is the message they reiterated at all stops they made from Eldama Ravine, through Molo, Elburgon, Njoro and Nakuru town on Wednesday and Thursday, the climax being a breakfast meeting at State House Nakuru on Thursday where they hosted over 500 county leaders.
There were numerous winners and losers during the visit. Nakuru Town MP David Gikaria appears to have scored high. The first-time MP was the master of ceremony.
Governor Kinuthia Mbugua followed the proceedings on the periphery.
The governor and Women Representative Mary Mbugua will rue this visit for a long time to come after they were heckled in front of the President and his Deputy. Some residents feel Mr Mbugua got what he deserved.
“Governor Mbugua has himself to blame for this embarrassment as he has failed to fulfil his promises. He will definitely suffer the consequences because the President and his Deputy have now realised the ground is hostile and they may be forced to back another horse for the gubernatorial race in Nakuru,” said Mr Simon ole Nasieku, the chairman of Nakuru Peoples Accountability Forum.
Among those who accompanied the President was National Transport and Safety Authority chairman Mr Lee Kinyanjui who lost to Mr Mbugua in the last election. He has already declared interest in the seat.
Another winner was Nakuru Town West MP Mr Samuel Arama, the only Cord MP in Nakuru Town.
Mr Arama, who has declared support for the Jubilee Government, received the President’s nod on all his development requests for his constituency.
The visit also exposed disunity among the local leaders. It also appears that county leaders did not sit down to prepare a common memorandum to present to the Head of State.
Their requests were made haphazardly with every leader who had a chance to speak outlining their own agenda.
This was Mr Kenyatta’s first official visit to the county since he was elected to office in 2013.
Other leaders present at breakfast session included MPs Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Nelson Gaichuhia (Subukia), John Kihagi (Naivasha), Nderitu Mathenge (Gilgil), Jacob Macharia (Molo), Joseph Kiuna (Njoro) and county Speaker Susan Kihika. Rongai MP Raymond Moi did not attend.
In Baringo County, the government launched the Sh4.2 billion Chemususu dam water distribution project.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who is Kanu chairman, gave the presidential tour a wide berth.
There has also been growing discontent in numerous Jubilee strongholds that despite voting overwhelmingly for Jubilee, the government has continued to ignore them.
“This visit is meant to assure supporters that they have not abandoned them and this is demonstrated by the multi-billion-shilling projects to be undertaken,” said Mr Joseph Muruka, a political analyst.