Sharp battle lines in the race for the Busia County gubernatorial seat have already been stenciled out. Though there are five aspirants for that powerful and lucrative seat, it has clearly emerged that the battle will be between two aspirants.
That is between the sitting and defending governor Sospeter Ojaamong of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Funyula constituency legislator Paul Otuoma who is craving to occupy that office as an independent candidate.
However there highly critical issues firing the ground that may easily tilt the brewing storm for the seat against Otuoma when all factors are considered. Ojaamong has been highly criticized for alleged poor performance during his four year tenure as the boss, but argues that his development record is there to prove his case despite the criticism.
The other issue that he has been put to task to explain are allegations that his employment record of personnel in the county government greatly favoured personalities from his Teso community.
And lastly that he mismanaged the county financial resources and in due course amassed massive wealth that he is allegedly going to wield at the forthcoming general elections to stay in power.
On employment it has emerged that starting from his cabinet more than half of its members were from the larger Luhyia communities of the county, while virtually all departments were equally balanced at all levels with personnel from both communities.
On the question of corruption, though agents from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission raided the governors’ offices and residences in dramatic raids nearly two years ago and made off with a lot equipment and files – their findings are yet to be made public.
However, Otuoma’s wars with Ojaamong did not start this year but right from the time of composing the County Government cabinet and Assembly leadership and personnel soon after the last general elections.
At the moment questions are also erupting all over about his own development record in Funyula in the ten years he has been in office first as cabinet minister of the grand coalition government and then Member of Parliament.
One of the most critical queries that have erupted are Otuoma’s usage of the grand coalition’s Economic Stimulus Programme millions of which were channeled to his constituency but there is hardly anything to show about the funds usage.
Then which were the companies that were awarded those funds to implement the projects and how were the projects identified? How are the directors of the beneficiary companies connected to Otuoma?
The same questions are being posed as far as the allocation of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) are concerned and the companies that were awarded the tenders to implement these projects, procedures, amounts involved, the quality of these projects and their geographical locations Funyula North versus South.
The story does not stop there since there also burning queries on his choice of the CDF management Committee and its leadership versus the involvement of his cronies and close relatives right from when he was elected into office to date.
Coming back to the differences between Otuoma and Ojaamong since the last general elections, it is indeed an open secret that Otuoma forcefully championed for and heavily successfully influenced the appointment of the current County Assembly Speaker Bernard Wamalwa.
It must also not be forgotten that Wamalwa was instrumental in fighting for the election of Otuoma against former Vice President Moody Awori while Otuoma was constantly on the run in fear of police arrest and incarceration.
That was in connection with the brutal murder of two civilians who were pulled out of the Sio Port Police station by heavily armed gangsters and shot dead a few meters from the police station in which Awori tried to implicate Otuoma hence his being on the run when he was supposed to be on the campaign trail – but somehow won.
It was from this background that Wamalwa found himself at the helm of the Busia County Assembly and with pressure from Otuoma floodgates raptured to flood in excessive employees not only from Otuoma’s clan but also his backyard.
The then Assembly’s Finance Committee Chairman Godfrey Odongo whose position was in support of the Executive with arguments that the excess personnel were illegally employed and could they be factored in the budgetary allocations for salaries?
He was un-ceremoniously bundled out of his position by an Assembly vote influenced by Otuoma who financed a majority of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) to execute his demands to protect his constituents in illegal employment.
This state of affairs continued right from the inauguration of the County Assembly soon after the last general elections and has continued to date without any resolution as the illegals continue drawing millions of shillings in salaries and allowances.
The issue indeed became so thorny that when Wamalwa reportedly raised the matter with Otuoma at the beginning of this year, Otuoma distanced himself from the matter and told him to carry his own cross as the Funyula legislator prepared to fight for the gubernatorial seat.
This development has since resulted in a bitter fallout between the two who were once bosom buddies thus forcing Wamalwa to turn to Ojaamong for help. That said and done Otuoma is facing rebellion in his Funyula constituency home base – this raises the question whether effectively beat Ojaamong without a firm home foundation or base which the latter seems to be enjoying?
The sharp political acrimony between the two personalities erupted in the run up to this year’s general elections political parties’ primaries. A highly flawed process that saw Ojaamong trounce Otuoma with bitter protests from the latter that saw him opt out to stand as an independent candidate.
That seems to have been just the beginning of the anticipated battle at the general elections on August 8th that can easily turn out to be an anti-climax or a mirage for a storm that never was. What is emerging with Wako’s involvement is consolidation of the Teso vote, with Ojaamong sure of getting support from his uncles in Bukhayo including supporters from Funyula, Budalangi and a bit from Butula home ground for his deputy and now new running mate.
That is because considering from this background of the two leading contestants who is a better devil than the other – Ojaamong or Otuoma? This is a critical question that hundreds of thousands of voters and professionals are posing to Busia County Senator Amos Wako who is reportedly spearheading the financing of Otuoma’s war chest to grab the gubernatorial seat?
There are also erupting burning questions about what connections Wako has with Jubilee and particularly state house and its quest to capture Busia County because of its strategic positioning with Uganda?
What secret connections are Otuoma and some his closest allies are they having with Jubilee operatives directly or indirectly connected to the Deputy President William Ruto? What role is Uganda’s Presidency Yoweri Museveni having in trying to wrest Busia County from being an opposition stronghold?
Then why is the Eng. Barasa the Jubilee candidate not mounting a well organized and coordinated powerful campaign machinery in the county considering the fact that he knows selling Jubilee there is a highly tenuous up-hill battle?