Joho calls for unity, urges Coast region to rally behind him
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has renewed efforts to remain the Coast political kingpin as he trains his sights on the Uhuru Kenyatta succession race.
He’s set to hold a series of rallies with first-term governors in the region to ensure residents get a bigger share of the national cake in the next government.
The Coast, just like North Eastern, has been conspicuously missing in the ongoing high-profile talks on Kenyatta succession— including recent talks at State House Mombasa and Nairobi.
The two regions have also not had representation in the ongoing coalition-building efforts, thanks to their lack of a clear regional political kingpin, clannism and other forms of divisions.
But speaking during the burial of Henrietta Shako, a relative of Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja, Mr Joho at the weekend vowed to rally local leaders behind ODM, where he’s the deputy party leader as it seeks to form coalitions with other parties.
“I am negotiating a 2022 formula that will be announced soon to stop any plans by any party to infiltrate the region that has over the years supported ODM party and its leader Raila Odinga,” he said on Saturday.
“The scramble for over two million votes in Coast will be determined by our unity and I will work with all like-minded leaders here and at the national level to deliver this,” he added.
Mr Joho has already convinced Mr Samboja, who was elected on a Wiper ticket, to work with ODM.
The Taita Taveta governor is widely seen as a replacement for Kilifi’s Amason Kingi, who recently ditched the Orange outfit for Pamoja African Alliance (PAA).
As Mr Joho leads the ODM charge and Mr Kingi the PAA onslaught, Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) is also making inroads in the region.
PAA has kicked off a registration drive and has opened party offices across the six counties.
Fighting for the people
The Mombasa governor said leaders must demand a place on the high table and fight for the interests of their people by speaking with one voice on national issues.
“We are negotiating on behalf of the region. We must decide to either remain followers or be counted in the national political arena. Let no one lie to you that we are destined to be mere followers, we want one of our own in State House in future,” Mr Joho said.
“It’s important to be in the middle of the conversation; in decision making and setting up of the Memorandum of Understanding. We must do things that will earn this region the respect it deserves,” he added.
Read: We are equal to the task, say first-term senators seeking governorship
Also read: Raila’s ODM loses grip on Coast stronghold
He warned residents against falling for Dr Ruto’s hustlers’ narrative and called for unity in charting their political future. The governor termed the ‘hustler movement’ a political scheme being used by its proponents to lure the region then dump it after the election.
He accused the DP of taking Coast people for granted, saying local leaders will retreat to discuss their interests ahead of the 2022 polls.
“I am asking you not to be lured by cheap narratives. Let’s not be carried away by someone who simply plays with our emotions without a clear agenda for us. We want to govern together with other leaders, therefore we cannot support someone who makes us believe that we are just destined to be followers,” Mr Joho said.
Dr Ruto has lately intensified his campaigns in Coast and enjoys the support of several lawmakers, including Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Kinango’s Benjamin Tayari.
“It surprises me that some people can decide the direction of this region without consulting us. We don’t want someone who constantly reminds us how poor we are. Leaders must come with concrete solutions that are implementable, sustainable and realistic,” Mr Joho said.
He regretted that the region had been failed by successive governments since independence due to disunity.
“Just look at the government today and see. In the history of this country, we usually have just one Cabinet secretary from Coast. Why did those coming to you now fail to give you positions in government yet they have influence in the administration?” he posed.
Mr Samboja urged residents to consolidate their position in ODM and support Mr Odinga’s presidential bid.
The Taita Taveta boss has never attended Wiper party’s meetings and has been cold to Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, but has been hosting Mr Odinga while working closely with Mr Joho since he was elected.
Mr Musyoka is usually hosted by deputy governor Majala Mlagui, the chair of the Young Wiper Democrats, when he visits the county.
“We would rather stand with Raila because I am convinced without any reasonable doubt that the person who has fought for this country for all these years will have our interests at heart,” said Mr Samboja.
He dismissed Dr Ruto and urged residents to support leaders who have stood with them for years.
“I hear people mentioning the hustler movement; how do you call someone with a chopper a hustler? We must stop being in the opposition. We will ensure the region benefits from the next government,” Mr Samboja said.