It’s rightly said that politics is a game of numbers; to win an election, an aspirant only needs to convince more people to vote for him rather than his competitors.
But in Busia County, things are not that cut and dry as the ethnic factor turns out to be a thorn in the flesh for aspirants seeking to succeed Governor Sospeter Ojaamong as governor. The numbers contest in the county is between the Luhya and the Teso.
Seven aspirants have thrown their hats into the ring, including Woman Representative Florence Mutua, Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma and Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi. Others are former Agricultural Finance Corporation Managing Director Lucas Meso, Senator Amos Wako and Kenya Ports Authority’s Vincent Sidai.
Mr Ojaamong is from the Teso community and served as MP of the former Amagoro Constituency up to 2013 when he was elected as the first governor of the county.
Their turn to lead
With eight months to the next General Election, calls for a rotational governorship are now emerging, with leaders from the Luhya community claiming it’s their turn to lead the border county.
Only one of those who are seeking to replace Mr Ojaamong are from the Teso community – Mr Sidai.
Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga said that, before the local authorities, the mayor position was rotational, and so the same should apply to the governor and deputy governor positions.
“Should a governor come from the Teso, his deputy must be a Luhya and vice versa. And this is how we agreed when we elected the outgoing governor. Since the Teso have held the governor seat and the Luhya have enjoyed the deputy governorship, we need to reverse the trend in 2022,” Mr Odanga noted.
Mr Ojaamong, who says he is concerned about the unity of the people of Busia, had earlier said he would only pass the county mantle to a person he believes can steer it to prosperity and maintain tribal harmony.
“I know all these people who want to succeed me. But I’ll lead my people into electing a person I know will continue uniting the county because Busia is a cosmopolitan county,” he said.
Later, he announced that his preferred successor was his deputy Mr Mulomi, perhaps agreeing with the rotational leadership demands.
On several occasions, the governor has rallied support for Mr Mulomi, saying, the deputy governor would continue implementing his (Ojaamong’s) agenda.
Speaking during the burial of Mr Mulomi’s son at Nyapera village, Mr Ojaamong said: “I’ve seen many aspirants here for the 2022 governorship contest including Engineer Sidai, Bunyasi, Otuoma and my deputy governor.
“I can visualise that Mr Mulomi has what it takes to fit into my shoes. I’m optimistic that BBI will create positions for other aspirants at the national level”
“Mr Mulomi and I are working peacefully unlike in other counties. I’ll delegate 80 per cent of my duties to him this remaining term to enable him learn to absorb the heat of the office,” he continued.
In another forum, Mr Ojaamong warned other aspirants to prepare well, saying, beating his deputy won’t be as easy as they think.
In August 2020, while speaking in Matayos South Ward, Mr Ojaamong assured Mr Mulomi that his support will give him an added advantage over the other aspirants because he has the support of many people.
“If I put my support behind you, there is none of these aspirants who can defeat you,” he said.
Mr Ojaamong is seen as the de facto leader of the Teso community and is likely to rally the more than 100,000 registered voters from Teso to back his preferred candidate.
His endorsement of Mr Mulomi is seen by some as a ploy to put in place a friendly person to hide his shortcomings at the county’s helm as he is accused of doing little in terms of development.
“The governor knows he has a lot of audit queries that will haunt his administration after he exits... and wants someone who will cover him.
“Having worked with Mr Mulomi, he’s sure the deputy governor will automatically conceal a lot of the mess they have committed together,” said Mr Michael Opari, a resident.