Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on Monday termed himself an influential person by virtue of his good relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
It was yesterday that the president went to Liwatoni in the county and commissioned the Kenya Coast Guard Service for the protection of Kenya’s resources. He was pictured with leaders including Deputy President William Ruto, Tourism minister Najib Balala and Governor Joho.
President Kenyatta and Mr Joho were once foes who tore into each other publicly.
In Liwatoni and during a Jumuiya ya Kaunti Za Pwani Conference at Pride Inn Hotel, which also took place on Monday, however, they exchanged pleasantries and cracked jokes, a demonstration of burying the hatchet.
In Liwatoni, the president showed up with Mr Joho just days after they met in Paris, France.
In his address, he backed the governor’s call for seafarers to be given the recognition they deserve so they can reclaim their glory.
“Sisi tunataka kuwapa maisha mazuri ndiyo muweze kwenda kuoa, mpate bibi kama ilivyokuwa (We want to help you live better lives so you get married as was the case in the past),” he said, after Mr Joho noted that the seafarers were so powerful that families easily allowed them to marry their children.
Mr Joho, who is seemingly outshining other politicians in the coastal region, described himself as influential when he was given the chance to speak before the president during the conference.
At that function, the two could not hide their camaraderie, with President Kenyatta giving the governor a listening ear.
Mr Joho bragged about how he helped Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, who got stuck in Italy after his passport was stolen, to get temporary travel documents.
“Mr president, an old person can also lose his passport. That is what happened to my colleague. But being influential and because I am sitting next to the president, I used the opportunity to call the Foreign Affairs ministry. I told the ministry to find the governor and make sure he found his way back home,” he said.
Amid claps and cheer, he went on to say, “I am next to the president here. That means I am influential, so can’t I help my colleague to get his travel documents to return home?”
The governor praised President Kenyatta, terming him a man of action, who is serving the nation with dignity.
“Mr president, you have talked about this before and you have done it. You have managed to repossess several chunks of land. Now the only thing you can do is to put a caveat on the recovered public land so that it is not grabbed again,” he said.
President Kenyatta ordered the Fisheries department and the National Land Commission (NLC) to recover and secure all fish landing sites in Kenya by next year.
He noted that many of the sites and other public properties are in the wrong hands as they were acquired illegally by private developers.
Mr Ruto, who also attended the conference, appeared to be at ease with Governor Joho, who says he will give him a run for his money in the 2022 presidential race.
They were all in a jovial mood as they went for a photo session at the hotel.
During the conference, the Mombasa boss invited other governors to speak but strictly controlled their time.
Tana River’s Dhadho Godhana, Granton Samboja of Taita Taveta and Lamu’s Fahim Twaha attended the event. Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya only attended the coast guard launch.
When the president addressed the delegates, he thanked Governor Joho for hosting the conference and Mr Kingi for agreeing to a change of venue.
“I thank Governor Joho for inviting us and other governors. It is not that we did not want to be in Kilifi; there were many functions in Mombasa,” he aid.
“Siku nyingine tutakuwa Kilifi (We will go to Kilifi on another occasion).”
However, the head of State however lashed out at the governors and asked them to work together.
“Mr Godhana, you are not competing with Joho or Samboja. We are not competing with anyone. If we succeed in reviving tourism, agriculture and the livestock business, we will move forward with hope,” he said.
Mr Joho’s communication director, Richard Chacha, termed the friendship between his boss and the Commander in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces a fruitful venture aimed at implementing government projects in counties.
Mr Chacha added that the friendship is pegged on the handshake between the president and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.
It will spur development in Mombasa, he said.
“It is good that the two leaders are now speaking on the same issues, issues that touch on the people. Basically, the governor is happy with this new-found friendship. It will enhance some projects,” he said, adding the county will benefit from regional projects funded by the government.
“We depend on the national government in undertaking some county projects. With the two leaders walking together, all these projects will be realised.”