Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Thursday, 06 Oct 2016 07:33 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The recent report by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission on ethnic diversity in employment by county governments examined only the domination of small tribes by bigger ones in the regions. If only NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo had flipped the question, Busia County would have topped the charts for a unique kind of representation where the minority rules.
Despite being from the minority Iteso community, Governor Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong's administration is perceived as stacked by officials from his ethnic group. So much so that the question of ethnic balance has emerged as among the yardsticks on which the governor is being judged as the 2017 general election approaches.
At least four aspirants have declared interest to vie for Ojaamong's seat, two of them in ODM, Ojaamong's party. The governor won the seat by a big margin in 2013 and is still the candidate to beat this time around, but issues of ethnic imbalance in employment, corruption and a controversial performance record are his major tests.
He is most likely to face a very stiff challenge in the wake of complaints by some local leaders that his development record is wanting. Some of his rivals have gone to the extent of deducing the ethnic composition of the county administration in an effort to show that the majority Luyia groups in Busia have been marginalised.
Ojaamong is also accused of allegedly misusing the county’s resources at the expense of development, with some leaders vowing to present a Bill in the county assembly to bar any would-be governor from misappropriating the county’s resources if elected.
However, the governor has defenders too, among them Bunyala North ward MCA Fred Bosco Musirimba who is also the county project implementation committee chairman. Musirimba says Busia County government has achieved tremendous development since the onset of the devolved system of government, adding that Ojaamong's critics have a sinister agenda and are doomed to fail.
Those who have shown interest in the seat include Ojaamong's 2013 rival, Engineer Vincent Sidai, who contested the seat under the then Musalia Mudavadi-led UDF party, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, who is also ODM national vice-chairman, former Turkana DC Humphrey Nakitare, who is currently a county secretary with the Kisumu County government who will vie for the seat under ODM ticket and Lucas Messo, the current managing director of the Agricultural Finance Corporation, who is yet to declare which party he will run on.
While Ojaamong is most likely to win the nomination, he will have to work extra hard during the campaign trail to win the heart of Busia residents considering that the support of the Iteso community in Teso North and South sub-counties isn't sufficient to assure his victory.
Other sub-counties such as Bunyala have proved tough for the governor. Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, who has since moved to head the Labour Party of Kenya, had campaigned for governor Ojaamong in 2013, but of late the two haven't been on good terms politically, a move that is likely to deny the governor votes from the area.
However, Governor Ojaamong still enjoys considerable support from ODM strongholds which include sub-counties such as Samia, Matayos, Butula and Nambale. What remains now is the eagerly-awaited nomination process that will determine who among the five gubernatorial aspirants will carry ODM flag in Busia County.
If the party contest is open, the persons likely to give Ojaamong a hard time during the campaign trail are none other than Eng. Sidai whom he defeated with a small margin in 2013, and Funyula MP Otuoma.