Busia communities tough choice for Ojaamong post

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 00:00 |
Sospeter Ojamoong.

The race to succeed Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is shaping up, with less than a year to the 2022 General Election with different aspirants playing safe.

It is widely expected that it will be a reincarnation of the age-long rivalry pitting the Teso and Luhya communities that dominate the border county with nearly a million people. 

Members of the Teso community have successfully exploited divisions within their Luhya counterparts to win the influential seat.

Governor Ojaamong, a close ally of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief Raila Odinga, enjoys the bloc support of the Teso community and often relies Nambale constituency to provide the swing vote. 

Nambale where Ojaamong’s mother hails from, hosts a considerable population of Teso immigrants.

Besides the Nambale swing vote, the governor has been picking his running mates from the populous Marachi sub-group of the dominant Luhya.

Those who have so far shown interest in the seat includes Ojaamong’ deputy Moses Mulomi, Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi, Woman Representative Florence Mutua, Senator Amos Wako and former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma.

Mutua and Wako are strong ODM stalwarts while Bunyasi is a strong Amani National Congress (ANC) insider.

Otuoma in 2017 pulled out of ODM and vied as and independent but he has been warming his way back to the Orange party, which remains dominant because of the county’s proximity to Luo Nyanza.  

Others are former Agricultural Finance Corporation Managing Director Lucas Meso and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) General Manager for Infrastructure Development Vincent Sidai who lost to Ojaamong in 2017 and 2013 respectively.

Ojaamong, serving his final term has set his eyes on the Teso South parliamentary seat held by Geoffrey Omuse.

Sidai is expected to battle for the ANC ticket with Bunyasi, a key ally of Musalia Mudavadi.

Final term

Ojaamong’ and Omuse, who has been aligned to Deputy President William Ruto have been engaged in a war of words with the latter accusing the former of deserting the Orange Party that took him to parliament.

“Claims by the MP that the Orange party will not hold transparent nominations are a figment of his imaginations.

The party has three channels at branch and party headquarters for dissatisfied candidates to appeal the outcome,” the governor told journalists on September 1.

“Allegations that the MP has left the party are far-fetched,” he added.

The governor assured various candidates who are seeking the seat on the Orange party’s ticket that they will have transparent nominations and that they were free to join the party saying wananchi will decide on one candidate.

On assertions by the Teso South lawmaker that he should expect baptism by fire should he go after his seat, the county chief said he was not scared of such threats describing his opponent as political amateur.

In his succession, Ojaamong has endorsed Mulomi for the seat says can steer the county to prosperity as well as maintain ethnic harmony.

“I am concerned about the unity of the people. I will therefore hand over power to that person I know will continue uniting the county.”

“Busia, being a cosmopolitan town, needs someone who can bring all the communities together like I have done.

That is why we have had a peaceful county,” Ojaamong said in what has come to be his signature tune.

Preferred candidate

Ojaamong says he is the de facto leader of the Teso community and those seeking to replace him must contend with the fact that he may rally the more than 100,000 registered Teso voters to back his preferred candidate.

“The person I am going to support will be the next governor. I will not hand over the government to our enemies,” he told People Daily.

 “Moses Mulomi is the best deputy governor in the country. He is always available whenever I am away to ensure the government runs smoothly,”

“However, my top priority at the moment is to ensure all on-going projects are undertaken professionally and completed in time to achieve the governor’s legacy.” 

Mulomi who will also be seeking the ODM ticket has downplayed the influence of his cousin and Nambale MP Bunyasi who angling for the seat.

Meso, whose term as Managing Director at Agricultural Finance Corporation ended last year has been holding meetings in his Butula constituency home base and neighbouring Matayos to consolidate his base. 

“I am in the 2022 gubernatorial race. My relative, the deputy governor Mulomi is also eyeing the same seat we shall look for a way of moving forward together.

“The governor and his deputy have built for us a foundation and have done well. We shall hold onto that foundation to steer the county to greater heights,” Bunyasi said.

Bunyasi is banking on his development record to propel him to take the top seat of the county.

Ms Mutua, who chairs the National Assembly’s committee on education, is banking on her county networks including women and youths to push her to helm of the county.

Wako is also said to be eyeing the seat and has kept his cards close to his chest with reports indicating that he may team up with Otuoma ahead of August 2022.

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