Cans of explosive rotten worms are beginning to explode in the face of the race for the Busia County Senatorial seat. Interestingly the personalities involved in the emerging battle were all directly or in-directly involved with the dynamite at the centre of the explosives.
The dynamite that has been waiting to explode for more than three decades is the multi-million shillings more than 800 acre moribund piece of land in Nasewa that the government purchased in the 1990s ostensibly to construct a first sugar factory in Busia County.
To date that has never come to pass, but now senator Amos Wako and one of his campaigners Peter Odima and activist Okiya Omtatah who is also eying the Busia County senatorial seat are at each other’s throats over this land whose past trials and tribulations both Odima and Wako were all involved in.
To start with Odima a former Personal Assistant to former Nambale legislator and cabinet minister Chris Okemo were both directly involved in completely failing to secure an investor to construct a sugar factory on this land after the effort was initiated by the previous area legislator Phillip Masinde whom Okemo replaced.
For the three terms that Okemo was in parliament with Odima as his P.A right from the start the construction of this factory was their perennial theme song to cheat voters to vote for Okemo, but every term ended with nothing for show until when they were bundled out of office.
The situation was so bad that at one time Okemo with Odima’s advice in desperation told voters in campaign rallies as he sought the second or third term to parliament that if he failed to secure an investor to construct the factory he would commit suicide by hanging himself on a then famous oak tree near where this land is located.
The bottom line remains that all this was happening while Okemo who had then heavily invested in the troubled giant Mumias Sugar Company, was reaping the benefits of his investments. That was while thousands of sugarcane farmers in Busia County who had heavily invested in farming sugarcane in anticipation of a factory were losing out by the hundreds of millions of shillings annually.
Indeed at the same time Mumias Sugar Company which was charged with processing sugarcane produced by farmers from the county was already exploiting the land by planting and harvesting sugarcane from it in question and pocketing the proceeds without question year in year out.
As a matter of fact by the time Nairobi governor Evans Kidero took over management of MSC as the Chief Executive from the Booker Tate Plc, Okemo who had close relatives in senior key positions at the company and Odima relocated their operational base from Buyofu to the managerial club at Mumias Sugar.
It is also a matter of fact that after Masinde presided over the establishment of the defunct Busia Sugar Company to expedite the construction of the hungered for sugar factory at Nasewa and its sister company Busia Out Growers Sugar Company (BOCO) for the county’s sugarcane farmers, Odima and Okemo presided over their total collapse.
By the time the Busia Sugar Company collapsed, it was claimed by MSC that the defunct company owed it (MSC) Kshs. 100 million it had advanced BSC for sugarcane development programmes not only in Busia County, but also the neighbouring Siaya where the failed factory was supposed to have its tentacles up to.
It is these alleged Kshs. 100 million loan to BSC that have come back to hound senator Wako and his chief campaigner Odima – who by the run up to the last general elections had irretrievably fallen out with Okemo who was beaten by Wako for the county’s senatorial seat at the last general elections.
It’s now that Odima’s verbal wars have already erupted on social media platforms trying to claim credit for saving the land from grabbers when in essence it is common knowledge that he was actually fighting for his own bellie.
Ironically this time round, Okemo has re-emerged on the county’s political radar after staying in limbo for nearly five years trying to reclaim the Nambale constituency seat from his cousin John Bunyasi on a Labour Party of Kenya ticket which is strongly embedded with the ruling Jubilee party.
However, well before those elections (2013) at the machinations of Kidero at Mumias Sugar, there were overt attempts by MSC or characters hiding behind that company and another one called Kaplony to sell the more than 800 acres of the Nasewa land to allegedly recover the said loan – Kaplony being the then prescribed buyer.
This where Wako’s son Julius Wako was drawn into the whole mess since he was listed as one of the directors of Kaplony, not forgetting the fact that Wako also had massive shareholding interests in Mumias Sugar after the government privatised it in the year 2000/2001.
That is when Omtata the usually self-styled activist entered the fray – rushed back to his home county, organised farmers’ protests, filing legal action to prevent the proposed sale and making a lot of noice through the Media. Of course Odima was also not left out of the fray among a host of his fellow opportunists.
The Odima led opportunists all made financial killings from the entire imbroglio but mercifully especially through court action Omtatah and his group were able to stop Kidero and Kaplony’s machinations from the land being sold out.
When the matter got to a heated raving rage, Wako who was still the Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya reportedly used his powerful position to remove his son Julius’ name from the list of directors of Kaplony which was in the thick of the mess.
Considering the fact that both Wako and Okemo, were both powerful personalities from Busia County having huge vested interests in Mumias Sugar, it is no wonder that they both made no efforts to secure investors to construct a sugar factory in Busia County on the Nasewa land which still remains moribund to date.
Instead thousands of sugarcane farmers were forced to sell their produce to Mumias Sugar and in the process subjected to incurring huge losses in exorbitant transport costs in transporting their sugarcane over long distances for processing at the Mumias factory including spillage and thefts along the way.
Indeed it was initially planned that the then proposed Busia Sugar factory would be the largest and ultra-modern facility in Kenya with possibilities of it being managed by the Booker Tate Plc which was then managing Mumias. However, through high level powerful manipulations, that diffuser technology factory was constructed at Mumias while Busia was left hanging.
There was also the talk of transferring one of Mumias Sugar’s Mill “B” to Busia to start up the factory, but that was not to be since Mumias was too hungry for the sugarcane from Busia because of its expanded processing capacity and at the same time exploiting the Nasewa land.
It must not be forgotten that the government during the retired President Daniel Arap Moi administration purchased the more than 800 acres of land from local families who were compensated to buy land elsewhere to pave way for the then proposed factory.
-Stay Tuned As Angaza News Serializes The Nasewa Land Saga