The fight for the Busia County’s gubernatorial seat has dramatically intensified piling massive heat on the incumbent Sospeter Ojaamong whose political future might easily be determined at the party nominations long before the ballot.
Though Ojaamong boasts of having amassed massive wealth over the last four years, to stand on his own, his fallout with Senator Amos Wako who financed his campaigns during the 2013 electioneering over his highly questionable style of leadership and bad resource management has rendered him vulnerable.
This time round he is facing historic challenges posed by highly qualified professionals, with apart from their sterling CVs well-earned financial might that are threatening to explode with deadly political consequences for the incumbent.
The powerful pack is comprised of the current Agricultural Financial Corporation (AFC) Chief Executive Lucas Meso, immediate former National Irrigation (NIB) Chief Executive Eng. Dan Barasa, former Kisumu County Commissioner and career administrator Humphrey Nakitare, Funyula legislator Paul Otuoma, Director of SOW construction Company Eng. Vincent Sidai, former cabinet minister and MP Nambale Chrisanthus Okemo among other professionals who are yet to declare their interests.
Currently the raging onslaught from the jubilee opposition against the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) incumbent is led by the AFC Chief Executive Meso because of his past clean and sterling performance professional record and popularity on the ground though he has not officially declared entering the fray.
The Chief Executive is also yet to declare his choice of political party though he is facing mounting pressure coming from residents living all over the county that he jumps into the fray on a National Super Alliance (NASA) ticket while Jubilee is also desperately rooting for him to be either their candidate or retain him at the helm of the leading state corporation’s financial institution for farmers.
He is closely followed by the immediate former NIB Chief Executive Eng. Barasa who has already declared his candidature for the Busia County Governorship on a Jubilee ticket.
However Barasa’s candidature is being directly linked to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pressure through his second wife and Member of Parliament for Thika Town Wambui Ng’ang’a as well as his acrimonious departure from the plum job at NIB for alleged financial irregularities involving multi-billion shillings meant for Galana Irrigation Project among others.
It appears that the Jubilee Kingpins are torn between Meso who could guarantee them the capturing of the highly strategic border district. A County which in essence is the economic lifeline for Uganda and the multi-billion shillings imports and export that flows from that country to Mombasa and from Mombasa to Kampala. The other dilemma is retaining him at the AFC helm since he is the only remaining Chief Executive heading any state corporation from the county.
Deputy President William Ruto is on record publicly saying at a harambee function at Butula Sub County’s Bukhalalire area hosted by Mr. Meso last year that: “Mambo ya Bwana Meso na Barasa Kuhusu ugavana wa Busia mwaka ujao (2017) tutaamua wakati ukifika. (The matter concerning Mr. Meso and Mr. Barasa vying for the Busia Governorship next year (2017) we will decide when the time comes).” Both Meso and Barasa were at the function.
The latest entrant into the fray is a politically frayed used material the former Nambale MP Okemo who stood for the county’s senatorial post at the last general elections and heavily lost to former Attorney General Amos Wako.
Interestingly Okemo is trying to make a political come back to try and oust his own nephew Ojaamong on an obscure party that was recently reportedly bought from its owner veteran politician Prof. Julia Ojiambo also from Busia County – the Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) which is widely considered to be an external appendage of the ruling Jubilee party.
However, the story does not stop there Ojaamong’s real woes begin right from ODM itself where despite having very close relationships with the Odinga’s who are the de-facto powers behind ODM. He will be facing equally vicious challenges right within the party’s primary to elect its candidate to fight it out with the Jubilee choice at the balloting level.
Ojaamong’s ODM opponents are led by Dr. Otuoma who with his Budalangi counterpart Ababu Namwamba have for a long time been highly forceful in publicly interrogating Ojaamong’s extremely wanting style of leadership and mediocre management style.
The duo is determined to knock out the incumbent at the Primaries by totally locking him out of their constituencies. Mr. Meso and Barasa though likely Jubilee favourites – combining their forces to lock out the governor from their perceived Butula and Matayos strongholds supported by Matayos legislator Geoffrey Odanga.
It is expected that other powerful aspirants like Humphrey Nakitari who will be facing the incumbent at the ODM nominations level will be firing their bullets in tandem to dislodge Ojaamong crowned by Senator Amos Wako also of ODM from Matayos who financed his campaigns at the last general elections.
There are also un-confirmed reports that Nakitare is leaning towards Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya in possible fears that ODM has its owners considering Ojaamong’s known old close ties to the Odinga’s.
This was indeed a critical issue at play during last year’s acrimonious fallout between Otuoma including Namwamba and on the other hand Raila that only turned Otuoma back to the fold after serious assurances from the ODM leader that there will be no “Sacred Cows” favoured during ODM nominations for candidates to contest for all elective seats at this year’s general elections.
The stranglehold on the besieged Ojaamong is expected to be coalesced into a deadly noose in the Nambale constituency of his maternal Uncles where he will he hounded out by Geoffrey Mulanya an ODM candidate at the last general election supported by a team of wealthy professionals and businessmen among others.
However the finale blow is supposed to be triggered from Teso North by the area MP Arthur Odera. He made it on a URP ticket at the last general elections and don’t see eye to eye with Ojaamong. Fired on by Ojaamong’s fiercest contestant at the 2013 elections Eng. Sidai from the same Teso South Sub-county with the incident thereby leaving his own home MP of Teso South Mary Emase also of URP to drive the last nail in the governor’s political coffin.
It must not be forgotten that at the last general election Ojaamong used his party influence in ODM to rig the nomination of his preferred candidates to get the party’s nomination tickets to contest. Therefore to which Emase and Odera were deliberately denied only to come back on URP tickets to floor the governor’s chosen nominees both in Teso North and his home ground Teso South.
However a defiant Ojaamong still boasts that he welcomes as many opponents against him as they want to come and he will finance them all right from the nominations requirements, campaign kitties, transport, materials, T-shirts and food all the way through to the ballot paper and he will floor them all.
He says he is not afraid of taking on anybody challenging him head on since he has the necessary powerful financial muscle to execute his battles against his opponents.
“I am not a worried man because in case I am beaten at this elections I will just go back home in the village to rear my chickens there is no big deal,” he says.
However considering his tainted image right from the handling of official business at the county office, surrounding himself with questionable cronies, questionable private life crowned by the concurrent multiple raids on his homes and offices both in Busia and Nairobi by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption (EACC) agents it remains to be seen how he will survive the onslaught.