January 20th 2018

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Homa Bay in leadership crisis as Governor Awiti faces popular rejection

When the CORD leader's entourage arrived, there was no county government official to receive him, prompting Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to play the host.

By Samuel OwidaTuesday, 29 Nov 2016 19:36 EAT

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti is staring at a popular revolt as his leadership and authority comes under scrutiny from ordinary residents. For three days in a row, the local county administration has been confronted with shows of popular resistance led by youth leaders opposed to the high level corruption and nepotism that afflict Homa Bay.

The public discontent with the governor was laid bare last weekend when the second annual commemoration of the late senator Otieno Kajwang’s death was marked by heckling and boos that forced the governor to cut short his speech at an event in his own backyard. A crosssection of leaders were stunned as the surging crowd started becoming unruly to anybody associated with county government. Governor Awiti came face to face with the public hostility at Waondo Primary School as CORD leader Raila Odinga watched in disbelief.

Attempts by Suba MP John Mbadi, a supporter of Mr Awiti's, to prevail with the angry crowd to allow Mr Awiti finish his speech landed on deaf ears as some people in the crowd hurled bottles at the podium forcing the governor to climb down and flee from the scene. Mr Awiti had requested to be allowed to greet the gathering so he could leave for Homa Bay Stadium, the venue for the next rally to be addressed by Mr Odinga.

But on his arrival at Homa Bay Stadium, his entourage was greeted with hails of stones sending everyone in his team scampering for safety. His attempts to plead with the crowd was met with boos and jeers from a charged youths and he eventually was forced to jump into his car and sped off from the venue and drove towards Kendu Bay as his car was pelted with stones.

When the CORD leader's entourage arrived, there was no county government official to receive him, prompting Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to play the host. It came hot on the heels of an earlier incident in which, area MP Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) was wrestled down to the ground by one of the activists leading anti-Awiti government Mr Washington Ogalo who had a scuffle with the MP after engaging in a bitter exchange of words.

Two executive members of county government Eliud Otieno (Agriculture) and Nicholas Koriko (Transport and Infrastructure) were stoned and wrestled from the podium as they took to their heels in anticipation of danger. In Kendu Bay, his home turf, Mr Awiti had a rough time to control the crowd as the same devil followed him. Though there was no violence, the heckling took centre stage.

Yesterday, county headquarters was under siege after youths stormed the premises and flushed out officers accusing them of letting down the governor. The youths led by a Mr Othene made everyone to flee for their dear life. County Revenue Officer and Chief Officer in charge of Transport and Infrastructure, Chris Agong were on the receiving end as they were reportedly roughed up and their personal effects damaged.

No one was at the scene for the better part of the day as the goons power reigned. But in the afternoon, the youths held a meeting with Governor Awiti in his office for hours and left after presenting a memorandum containing a list of officers who must sacked for ineptitude.

The writer is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Homa Bay County

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