The presence of Siaya Governor James Orengo in President William Ruto’s delegation to India has fueled further political intrigue.
Mr. Orengo is a close ally of the leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, Raila Odinga, and his presence in the presidential entourage surprised many people.
Interestingly, Mr Orengo traveled moments after hosting Wiper Democratic Movement Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Mr Odinga’s wife Ida Odinga at a fundraiser in the constituency by Gem.
The Siaya governor has since provided an update on a meeting he held with a delegation from the Government of India. During the meeting, both parties signed a memorandum of understanding.
Mr. Orengo also explained that he is in India as head of a delegation from the Lakes Region Economic Bloc. He said he had already informed the President about the outcome of the MoU with the Government of India.
“I led a delegation from the Lakes Region Economic Bloc, including Governors Stephen Sang of Nandi and Dr Hillary Barchok (Bomet), to assess President William Ruto on the Memorandum of Understanding we signed with the ministries and departments of the Indian government ahead of a meeting between President Ruto and the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi of India,” Mr. Orengo said.
“The MoU will establish a solar power park with a capacity of 280 MW, with each of the 14 counties receiving between 10 and 50 MW. We are also looking to extend the SGR corridor from Naivasha to Malaba, but its core lies in an interconnected rail network that links the 14 counties of the LREB.
The counties that form the Lakes Region economic bloc are Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Nandi and Kericho.
According to the government’s plan, phase 2B of the SGR, from Naivasha to the lake town of Kisumu, will cost Sh380 billion while the final stage, 2C from Kisumu to the border town of Malaba, will cost Sh122 billion.
Mr Orengo further said that President Ruto approved the two project concepts for further discussions during the Head of State’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, on his official social media pages, President Ruto affirmed his support for the project, promising to follow up with his Indian counterpart.
“I met Dr. Srinivasa Raju Gannavarapu, CEO of Procorp Enertech Private Limited, who expressed interest in investing in LREB counties. Present were Orengo, Mr. Sang and Dr. Barchok. Good infrastructure facilitates the expansion of opportunities and economic growth. The Bloc has an ambitious plan to connect its counties and bring the benefits of connectivity to the people by building roads that will create prosperity for current and future generations,” President Ruto said.
This is not the first time that Mr. Orengo has accompanied the President to government functions.
In October, Mr Orengo welcomed President Ruto to Siaya County during the Head of State’s tour of the Luo Nyanza region.
Apart from the President, Mr. Orengo also received other senior officials of the Siaya County Government, including the then Commercial Cabinet Secretary, Moses Kuria, who presided over the groundbreaking ceremony of the County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP).
During the President’s recent tour to Luo Nyanza, Azimio governors made an about-face and accompanied the Head of State to public rallies and the launch of several government projects.
Although it was unclear whether their decision had Mr Odinga’s blessing, county leaders took the bold step at a time when several ODM lawmakers had been alienated by the party for associated with the president.
“I want to tell you Mr. President that I am not afraid of anything in politics and that is why I only tell the truth. I came here only for development and all I want is for us to end tribal politics and ensure that every region is developed equally,” Orengo said on the occasion.
The county chief also took the time to lecture the ODM rebels who had accompanied the president on his tour.
“If you are in ODM, like me, you should be proud of it because it is not a mistake. We need to bring political hygiene into our politics,” Orengo said while asking President Ruto not to weaponize development.
“Anyone who tells you that you have to be in government to benefit from development is lying to you and does not understand the Constitution. This is petty politics. The Constitution stipulates that the president must visit all corners of the country and ensure the development of Kenyans,” Orengo said at the time.
He also said it is important for county governments to work closely with the national government as provided for in the Constitution.