The country’s general elections are looming next year, the much talked about 2022 – political temperatures and fevers are expected to start soaring to fearful levels this year among those interested in elective seats across the country right from the Presidency, Senate, the National Assembly to the County Assemblies.
Our focus on Busia County in Western Kenya’s constituencies is already indicating that the incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) for the Busia Counties’ seven constituencies will be having uphill battles defending their seats from highly motivated new aggressive well heeled entrants.
The constituencies are North and South Teso, Nambale, Matayos, Butula, Funyula and Budalang’i at the far south end of the county on the shores of Lake Victoria.
The current sitting MPs are Raphael Wanjala Budalangi, Dr. Oundo Mudenyo Funyula, Geoffrey Odanga Matayos, Joseph Oyula-Butula, John Bunyasi Nambale, Edward Oku Kaunya Teso North and Geoffrey Omuse South Teso – who may be in trouble because reportedly Governor Ojaamong is going to fight to reclaim that seat.
Starting with Matayos Constituency which hosts the county’s headquarters and one of the most populous, Geoffrey Odanga who has been having it easy since the constituency was hived out of its Neighbour Nambale this time things seem not to be going so easy.
The irony is the fact that powerful professional career personalities are from Matayos even after it was hived out of the larger Nambale Constituency, but they chose a high school principal to lead.
Matayos played and continues to play a central role in the county’s politics right from producing the 1st cabinet minister Phillip Masinde who hails from Nangwe area near Busia town the county headquarters.
The emerging facts are that in the last two general elections the current area MP Odanga who emerged from being a high school principal to a National Assembly legislator has been having weak opponents to beat him at the polls.
Being a teacher he reportedly used the Matayos Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to develop and improve many educational institutions – but also that is being put to task and queried by his opponents in the 2022 general elections over its usage.
During the last general elections Odanga who contested on an ODM ticket, reportedly did not have strong opponents that included Catherine Omanyo aka Kipepeo and Policarp Onyango who stood on UDF and Jubilee tickets respectively.
After losing the election loser candidates went completely off the constituency’s political radar with Onyango being given a job at Statehouse by his Jubilee party unlike Ms. Omanyo who wasn’t lucky at all.
However, Odanga having served two terms with little to show this time round may find himself in big trouble as the entrance of Humphrey Nakitari and former National Irrigation Board chairman Eng. Dan Barasa may complicate things for him.
It is also a veritable fact that Nambale/Matayos residents have a tendency of giving an MP only two terms apart from Okemo whose political fortunes were crumbling but managed to rig himself in for the third term.
Eng. Dan Barasa
Other candidates whose names are being mentioned for the 2022 race include Ms. Omanyo who is out to make a second attempt and a new entrant Phaustine Barasa – a career teacher and the current Busia County CEC for finance but who voters in the constituency have accused of only employing her relatives.
She was recently mentioned in a scandal where she is said to have influenced the employment of more than 10 of her relatives as Revenue clerks at the Busia County. If others are going to emerge with time, it remains to be seen.
According to insider sources Nakitari has stayed in the cold for too long together with the masses on the ground and is now raring to go for the seat with no qualms or fear. “He has a powerful and forceful knack to relate with the electorate compared to Odanga who already has lost his base support across the constituency”, said Peter Magero a resident of Nasewa in Matayos.
What is clear is the fact that Matayos constituency that straddles the Busia – Kisumu Highway is the heartbeat of not only the county’s highly qualified and experienced personalities, but also controls the dynamics of the county’s politics and economy, a highly cosmopolitan entity like Kisumu where Nakitari was reportedly a highly, effective, efficient but also competent leader despite the county’s volatile politics.
Indeed Matayos constituency also happens to be home to the country’s longest serving Attorney General Amos Wako who also made history serving under two Presidents, the late Daniel Arap Moi and his successor Emilio Mwai Kibaki – now the county’s two term senator.
The story does not stop there since it is a constituency with highly experienced professionals who have served both in the public service and the private sector, the most notable being former Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh a career provincial administration professional who went through the ranks before being appointed P.S. under the coalition government.
Nakitari being a seasoned professional and a career administrator rose through the ranks to become a District Commissioner before moving on to become the first County Secretary for Kisumu is the man people are saying is to watch in this constituency come the 2022 general elections.
Eng. Barasa who is another professional from the area also contested for the Busia County’s gubernatorial seat during the last elections and lost to the incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamon’g.
The other powerful professional personality from the area is former Managing Trustee of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the late Martin Kunguru whom was seen as a man of the people.
Kunguru was a leading personality of the then feared Seven Tigers of the larger Nambale constituency who were cut down systematically and ruthlessly from their high level positions by former area legislator Chris Okemo who was also a cabinet minister in Moi’s government.
Okemo feared for his political survival after flooring Masinde who was also the then minister for Labour also from the same Matayos constituency formerly the larger Nambale Constituency.
That was especially through the then also powerful Bukhayo Welfare Association that catered for the interests of the larger Nambale constituency people, indeed one of its founder leaders was Kunguru who Okemo feared as a major political threat to his political aspirations – Okemo also made sure that the welfare association was killed though it catered for the interests and needs of Nambale people.
The biggest irony of the whole business is the fact that Okemo who had held Nambale constituency in a deadly stranglehold for three terms was bundled out of politics in the county by none other than a Matayos personality Mr. Amos Wako on his first attempt at elective politics to get the Busia County Senatorial seat after he (Okemo) abandoned the constituency politics in 2012 .