The entry into the Nambale constituency politics by its former Member of Parliament and cabinet minister Chrisanthus Barnabas Okemo is likely to have its consequences on the incumbent John Bunyasi and his competitor Geoffrey Mulanya, though chances of his wining are extremely narrow.
After being bundled out of politics at the last general elections by Senator Amos Wako who trounced him to win that seat, Okemo has over the last five years largely kept out of limelight or active politics not only the Nambale constituency but also the entire Busia County.
Having contested the Senatorial seat at the last general elections, the man popularly known as Otswolitswoli (cunning) has this time round gone back to contest against his own immediate cousin, the incumbent Nambale legislator John Sakwa Buynasi.
The most interesting thing is that Okemo a man who is used high profile politics and political parties has chosen an obscure little political party that has since its inception never successfully fielded a candidate to make it into parliament – the Labour Party of Kenya (LPK).
During his previous terms in parliament, he made the very first and second entries on the then powerful ruling party Kanu before defecting to ODM under highly questionable circumstances when he made it to parliament the third time after swindling the ODM nomination certificate from Bunyasi and staging a massive blanket handouts dishing and bribery spree.
To start with the party itself which was recently taken over by former ODM Secretary General and Budalangi legislator also from Busia County, Ababu Namwamba has lost a lot of credibility in Busia county politics by officially being an affiliate of the ruling Jubilee party – that is in a county that is overwhelmingly pro National Super Alliance (NASA).
That is a wrong start for a politician like Okemo whose performance during his tenure as a first three term MP in Nambale constituency was extremely wanting, apart from over-dependence in dishing out money at electioneering time to voters, disappearing from the constituency for five years, bribing Electoral Commission officials – literary bribing his way through all huddles.
The popular fact on the ground is that any political party affiliated to Jubilee has sold out to the predominantly GEMA and Kalenjin outfit and has a millstone hanging around his/her neck in fear of the Jubilee Dons hauling them to face the law for whatever their misdeeds may be.
However, the most critical question at the moment is that what impact or consequences is Okemo’s entry into the race for the Nambale constituency seat going to have on the incumbent Bunyasi who will be defending his seat on Amani National Congress (ANC) ticket and his other competitor Geoffrey Mulanya who won the ODM ticket?
Therefore it is important to consider whether Okemo still has the influential personality and the financial might to swing voters to vote him back to parliament. The fact is that the overdependence on the monetary handouts syndrome that enslaved the constituency’s voters for nearly two decades ran its course.
At the same time his perpetual absence from being active in the constituency’s and county’s politics since he lost his bid for the senatorial slot at the last general elections has indeed taken its toll on him, not forgetting that he had become a perpetual absentee MP in the constituency by his last term in parliament – without any tangible development projects to count on.
The worst being his total failure to influence the government or investors to construct a sugar factory on whose promises he was first elected to parliament, despite serving in the cabinet for a decade and the government having bought land on which to construct the facility complete with a nucleus estate.
That said and done it is a well known fact that by the time of going to the last general elections, he had completely fallen out with some of the most important point men who had been ensuring his election to parliament through crook or right.
The most critical having been his former Personal Assistant Peter Khasamule Odima who defected to support Wako but previously had played all the dirty and clean politics to ensure that Okemo made it back to parliament. Indeed most of his lieutenants and supporters have since been reportedly defected to support Mulanya.
Mulanya who at the last general elections contested for the same seat on an ODM and lost to the incumbent who stood on an otherwise obscure United Democratic Front (UDF) party has an uphill battle to dislodge Bunyasi because of the development record he (Bunyasi) appears to have achieved over the last four years.
However, the most critical equation is the clan factor considering that he comes from the Bamenya clan, against Bunyasi and Okemo’s largest tribe not only in Nambale constituency but also within the Bakhayo community of Busia County.
This may be a double edged sword which may strike a killing for him to gain entry into parliament during the forthcoming general elections, or a deadly missile that may completely destroy his second attempt to get into that August House.
It may strike a killing for him considering on how he plays the game considering the fact that Okemo and Bunyasi are paternal cousins from the same Abaguri clan whose vote could be divided between the two. It also gives him an advantage to lure the support from the other clans like Bakhabi, Bamaani, Bakhoone among others.
Mulanya must also not forget the fact that Bunyasi is a son in-law into his own Bamenya clan which he could easily use to make in-roads into to destroy his possible political foundation within the clan, not forgetting the possibility of losing some of the supporters he may have inherited from Okemo.
The money factor in Nambale constituency is a major issue that has effectively seen the rise and fall of many politicians since the creation of the handouts syndrome during Okemo’s tenure, therefore it may be correctly assumed that Mulanya has pitted himself against two personalities who may have more financial clout that he may have.
It is not just having that clout, but it is also a question how to use it effectively and efficiently to lure voters to your side, Okemo may have perfected the art but it is clearly that he lost the effective and efficient machinery which used to exploit it successfully to his (Okemo’s) benefit.
However, it has also clearly emerged that Bunyasi is no longer a novice and that having gained experience right from his first attempt to go to parliament in the run up to the 2007 general elections and thereafter.
What is clear is the fact that although chances of “Otswolitswoli” making it back to parliament this time round are extremely narrow because of some of these issues including the fact that many of his clansmen are looking at him as a spoiler and should have gone for a more senior post – what is clear the negative or positive consequences of his entry will hit Bunyasi and Mulanya squarely in the face.