Where is Governor Cyprian Awiti?

Governor Cyprian Awiti

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti at a past event.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti's long absence from the public eye and his office has attracted the attention of locals and leaders in equal measure.

Being an election year, most of his counterparts are busy trying to influence their succession or secure a place in the next dispensation but for the governor, who is serving his second and last term, the situation is different.

Mr Awiti was last seen in public on April 18 during the burial of former Kenyan ambassador to Qatar, Paddy Ahenda, in Kabondo Kasipul. This was also after weeks of being away from the public eye.

Some say he could have skipped the event had Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential hopeful Raila Odinga not attended.

Could he have already resigned to fate about his imminent retirement and does not want anything to do with the public? Some are asking.

While he remains aloof, county workers are on strike and demanding an audience with him, but Mr Awiti is nowhere to be seen as activists asked him to salvage the county from its problems.

Interface Community Help Desk chairperson Evance Oloo and Homa Bay Bunge la Wenye Nchi leader Walter Opiyo said the absence of the county chief puts Homa Bay in an awkward position where government services are suspended.

They said failure by Mr Awiti to show up at the office for consecutive weeks is having a ripple effect on service provision as other county officials are also boycotting duties because their boss is not around.

"His deputy Hamilton Orata is equally away. I am sure there are several executive members and other senior officers who are out of office as well," Mr Oloo said.

Set a bad precedent

According to the activists, junior staff will also start reporting to work late or fail to carry out their duties.

"We will get to a point where offices will be closed and this is just because of one person who has failed to lead by example," Mr Oloo said.

The greatest concern that residents have is whether Mr Awiti’s flagship projects will start operating before he leaves office.

In his first term between 2013 and 2017, Mr Awiti launched several projects meant to boost the county's economy, create jobs and put Homa Bay on the map as one of the industrialised counties.

Some of the projects he started are an animal feed plant in Arujo in Homa Bay town and a maize mill in Kigoto in Suba, which have all stalled as their completion date is overdue.

Others were a potato factory in Kabondo Kasipul and a pineapple factory in Kochia in Rangwe, both of which were just ideas on paper with no physical work on the proposed sites.

Mr Oloo said it is impossible to complete the projects already started and hand them over to the governor before he leaves office in August.

"What he could not do in the last nine years cannot be done in three months," he said.

Mr Tom Mboya, a resident, argued that Mr Awiti is taking advantage of his status as an outgoing governor.

“He has nothing to lose, that is why he does not care how his county is fairing,” he said.

But an official from the governor's office, who did not want to be named, dismissed the claims, saying Mr Awiti has been engaged in official duties.

“The fact that he is out of office does not mean that he is not working. He has been engaged in a number of activities including attending the Council of Governors meeting,” the officer said. 

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