Deputy Governor Kutima accuses Oparanya of betrayal

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (right) and his deputy Prof Philip Kutima at a past press briefing. Oparanya will retain his deputy in run up to polls. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kakamega Deputy Governor Philip Kutima has accused his boss Wickliffe Oparanya of dishonesty, as he sought to explain why he ditched the ODM party for the newly formed DAP-Kenya in his quest to become the next county boss.

Prof Kutima, Governor Oparanya’s deputy for the last nine years, accused him of sidelining him as the succession politics in the county intensify.

Other leaders from the county who have abandoned ODM recently include nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, who joined DAP-Kenya, and Prof Ruth Oniang’o, who moved to United Democratic Party (UDP) led by former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo.

Ms Shiyonga was nominated by ODM ticket in 2017 and aspires to run for the county’s woman representative seat while Prof Oniang’o is angling to unseat Mr Tindi Mwale as Butere MP.

Mr Oparanya, who is also the ODM deputy party leader, is serving his second and last term as governor.

Prof Kutima is among the aspirants who are warming up to succeed Mr Oparanya in the August 9 General Election.

The two have been close allies, and at one point Mr Oparanya drummed up support for Prof Kutima as the best person to succeed him.

But Prof Kutima has described his boss as a person who is not straightforward and he cannot rely on his support.

“When he comes to my Malava backyard, he tells the people that he is supporting me. But when elsewhere, he talks bad of me and praises another aspirant. I cannot wait for the last-minute embarrassment and that is why I decided to switch to DAP-Kenya as I prepare myself to take over the leadership of Kakamega County,” he said.

He regretted that he had worked with Mr Oparanya and wondered why the governor betrayed his loyalty at the last minute.

Prof Kutima was removed in August last year from the ODM leadership, where he served as the county party chairman, and was replaced by Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito after a delegates’ meeting that was held in Kakamega town.

Supporting another aspirant

He claimed his removal was an elaborately planned scheme to scuttle his aspirations for the governorship.

“I started sensing danger mid last year and when they plotted and removed me from the county ODM party chairmanship, I knew there were greater plans to cripple my ambitions by denying me the party ticket. That is how I decided to take a bold step and look for another party that will propel me to the ballot,” he said.

He said that after the ODM National Delegates Conference, he got wind that his boss was supporting another aspirant against the promise he had given to the people of Malava.

“Given a free and fair nomination, I would win the ODM ticket but who can allow for the free and fair nomination in the party?” Prof Kutima said.

Asked whether he would relinquish the deputy governor position after ditching ODM, Prof Kutima said he would work to the end of his term.

He noted: “But when it comes to the election period, I will go my way and prepare to meet with the choice of the ODM party at the ballot. I have no doubt that I will win the election because the IEBC is fair and credible.”

He said that if there is another nomination in DAP-Kenya, he was confident that it will be free and fair unlike in ODM where he claimed the results were predetermined.

“I am not afraid of nominations and should Lugari MP Ayub Savula contest the governorship position (under the) DAP-Kenya party, then people will decide who to represent them between him and me at the nomination stage. But I am sure of beating him,” he added.

Prof Kutima boasts experience managing the county after working with Mr Oparanya for the last nine years, saying he understands how the county runs unlike his competitors who will be coming in as new starters.

Mr Oparanya had initially said ODM would give the ticket to a strong candidate with the capacity to deliver the seat.

During the launch of Azimio la Umoja in the Western region in Kakamega, Mr Oparanya said all aspirants who wished to contest the governorship in the county under ODM would agree and propose the strongest of all to fly the party flag.

He did not respond to the Nation’s phone calls, text and WhatsApp messages seeking comment on the claims made by his deputy.