The political battle lines in the fight for the various elective posts in Busia County are drawn. However, of all the elective seats, that of the governor’s job has commanded more fire power in what is expected to be a bruising even violent battle.
As the political campaigns officially start unfolding this week in preparation for this year’s August 8th general elections, in Busia the temperatures in the fight for this seat have been constantly rising to fever pitch long before the party primaries which witnessed the highest fever came to pass.
The biggest irony of the whole unfolding political imbroglio is the fact that despite the county having hundreds of influential professionals and politicians the emerging developments are being virtually hoarded by three politicians who have their own axes to grind.
These are led by the county’s senator Amos Wako since emerged as the Kingpin of the county’s politics and the reigning bad governance. He is followed by the incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamong who is desperately fighting for his political life to clinch a second term as he is relentlessly hounded to be ousted from office by Funyula constituency legislator Paul Otuoma.
The duo fought a bruising battle in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries last April, but Otuoma lost to Ojaamong under highly suspect circumstances in an exercise that was extremely flawed before the Funyula legislator rushed to get clearance to vie for the same post as an independent candidate
Though there are other candidates some of whom are even more qualified to run that county than the above mentioned duo, they are apparently being relegated to the back-burner as Otuoma/Ojaamong takes centre stage heavily fueled and fired by Wako the Kingpin.
The other highly qualified candidates who have been cleared to vie for that post are led by the immediate former Kisumu County Secretary and Commissioner, Humphrey Nakitari from Matayos Sub-county who has been cleared by the Amani National Congress (ANC).
He is followed by the immediate former National Irrigations Board (NIB) Chief Executive Eng. Daniel Barasa Kidwoli who got clearance from Jubilee to vie for that seat without having any competitor gunning for the same through that party also from Matayos Sub-county.
Then there is Francis Oyatsi a career financial professional who was once Chief Executive at Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma county and former Finance Manager at the troubled giant Mumias Sugar Company who is gunning for Busia County’s gubernatorial post on a United Democratic Party (UDP) whose home roots are in Butula Sub-County.
The other two personalities are fairly un-known in the county’s professional and political fraternities – they are Michael Otieno Oloo who has been cleared to vie for that seat on a Ford Kenya ticket also from Butula Sub-County and Benjamin Onyango Okwara on an MDP ticket apparently from Nambale Sub-County.
The biggest irony of the un-folding political imbroglio is the fact that Wako who created Ojaamong as governor and gave that seat on a silver platter at the last general elections, has turned his fire power against his own protégé who he wants out of office through crook or right. Indeed as Ojaamong sat back to enjoy his beer in the 2013 elections Wako was constantly on the campaign trail to campaign for himself as senator and Ojaamong for the now highly contentious seat.
This time round his choice protégé is Otuoma whom Wako is apparently heavily financing with support from other un-confirmed external sources, just like he did for Ojaamong at the last general elections – Wako’s beef with the governor is reportedly rooted in the bad, crude and mediocre governance the county has experienced under the leadership of Ojaamong including gross financial mismanagement of the county’s finances.
There could be other hidden reasons, but at the moment they have not yet exploded into the public domain, but may easily explode during the pitched battles on the campaign trail as it kicks off properly this week.
The worst aspect of Wako’s choice of candidate to dethrone Ojaamong compared to the other candidates even if he is the county’s Kingpin is extremely wanting because right from his own Funyula constituency Otuoma is on the firing line by his own constituents for grossly underperforming during the ten years he has been in office as MP and cabinet minister in the grand coalition government.
This state of affairs is crowned by the crude and biased manner Otuoma influenced the illegal over-employment of more than 120 personnel at the Busia County Assembly after influencing the appointment of his chief campaigner in the 2007 general elections, Bernard Wamalwa to get the Speaker’s job at the Assembly.
These employees were exclusively from his Funyula constituency, but worse still from his own sub-location and clan from the south of the Sub-County. Therefore, the most critical question arising with Otuoma’s candidature for the county’s gubernatorial seat is – if he grossly under performed during his ten year tenure as MP what guarantees are there that he will perform as governor?
The other critical question is that if the legislator influenced the exclusive illegal employment of his own clan’s people and cronies at the county assembly, what will stop him from doing worse things when he gets the governor’s job? Indeed these illegal employees in the year 2014/15 all the way to the 2016/17 sharp differences between the county executive and legislature.
The emerging scenario is the fact that Otuoma’s choice of Commissioner Solomon Abwaku from Teso North has also become a matter of major concern in a situation which is now apparently pitting the County’s Teso community versus the more than five Luhya communities of the county – that choice is seen as a spoiler who has come from nowhere to spoil for the incumbent.
It has since emerged that Wako has personally tried to dissuade the other aspirants from the Luhya to step aside and let Otuoma face it out with Ojaamong but hit a stone wall. They flatly refused and insisted they will be on the ballot come what may with the end result being going public to accuse the senator of forcefully trying to impose leaders on the people of the county.
This state of affairs considering the emerging Luhya versus Teso political divide squarely throws Wako’s designs into a disintegrating spin with the former having six candidates against only one from the Teso community, not forgetting the fact that Ojaamong is maternally uncled among some of the Luhya’s of both Nambale and Matayos Sub-counties who are likely to vote for him despite his governance failures.
When all is said and done of the whole lot of seven who are gunning for this gubernatorial seat Nakitari clearly stands out as the best administrator considering his professional background not only in the provincial administration and the Kisumu County government but also on the matters of integrity compared to the incumbent and the others.
Ojaamong’s failures are only too apparent right from the time when he was Amagoro constituency legislator to the current messes at the county government just like Otuoma’s. Eng. Barasa, his acrimonious departure from the helm of the NIB concerning financial governance issues is a well-known story that does not need re-telling but only googling.
The situation is no different from that of Oyatsi – right from Mumias Sugar Company all the way to Nzoia. Busia County’s administration, just like the other two candidates for Ford Kenya and MDP – their names speak for themselves as they are yet to prove their abilities to the county’s electorate.
As for the county’s Kingpin Wako the hundreds of thousands of voters have not forgotten that for the many decades he served as the country’s Attorney General he is yet to show what development achievements he executed for the county, leave alone supporting the education of its gifted children or securing employment for them.
Having apparently failed also to execute his oversight duties, he is also yet to explain his son’s involvement in the attempted illegal acquisition of the Nasewa land which the government bought in the 1990s for the construction of a sugar factory that never was – that is crowned by his loud silence over the legal battles that are crippling the only sugar factory to be successfully built in the county at Busibwabo.
While at the Attorney General’s office, there also emerged the thorny issue of the Luhya and Teso boundaries that fired up temperatures between the two communities, but after resolution Wako was accused of having used his position to influence the boundaries to favour the Bakhayo of the then Nambale constituency.