The Nyamira senatorial contest is shaping up into a tough race ahead of the August 2022 polls, with the incumbent Erick Okong'o Omogeni fighting to retain his seat.
Three other aspirants are fighting to unseat Mr Omogeni, who says he is confident he will keep his position. The senior counsel prides on his strong resource mobilisation skills for the county.
His critics, however, say that as a senator, he has not played his oversight role in the county well and that he has spent most of his time in court corridors instead of executing his mandate as a lawmaker.
But he has denied the claims, saying his performance record speaks for itself and that in politics people are bound to say anything.
Former Nyamira senator Kennedy Mong’are Okong’o (Ford Kenya) is fighting to make a comeback and just like Mr Omogeni (ODM), he will have an uphill task explaining to voters why he condoned massive looting of county funds as the first senator by the then administration.
In 2017, Mr Mong’are did not defend his seat but vied for the governor’s seat and lost to the late Governor John Nyagarama.
Mr Nyambega Mose (United Democratic Alliance) and Mr Adams Mochenwa (Democratic Party) are also in the race.
Factors that will shape the contest include the clan factor, party affiliation, individual qualities of the aspirants and performance record.
Mr Omogeni, Mr Mochenwa and Mr Mong’are come from the Bogirango clan and will split the votes from there. Mr Mose is the only aspirant from the Bogetutu clan.
Mr Mose has come out as Mr Omogeni’s strongest rival, just like in 2017, but his undoing is that he is affiliated to UDA, a party associated with Deputy President William Ruto and which has an uphill task fighting the Azimio la Umoja wave in Nyamira.
Mr Omogeni won the 2017 General Election with 72,629 votes under ODM. Mr Mose used the Wiper ticket and came second with 54,593 votes.
Mr Omogeni says he has been instrumental in fighting for resources for Nyamira County.
“I have been singled out for passionately fighting for tea and coffee farmers, particularly in bringing more earnings to the growers. I have brought the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to the ground [several times] to listen directly to farmers,” said Mr Omogeni.
He added that he donated more than 20,000 tea seedlings to widows across the county and used his networks to bring high-profile guests to the county to conduct successful harambees for schools like Gesiaga Secondary School, Nyakeore Secondary School, Tindereti Primary School and others.
“I have used my networks and status of senior counsel for the benefit of my people, a record unmatched. I have trained many women on enhancing business skills and sponsored them to attend meetings like devolution conferences,” he said.
He added: “Let my track record be compared with the former senator and I will emerge top and outstanding. My representation in the Senate is superb and in recognition. I have been elected chair of the Justice and Legal Affair Committee. My people should reward me with a second term.”
If re-elected, Senator Omogeni plans to continue championing devolution and developing the county.
“I will further champion farmer’s needs and ensure they benefit more. Agriculture is the main economic activity of Nyamira residents and progress in this sector is a plus for the county,” he said.
Mr Mong’are, in an interview with journalists, asked the people of Nyamira to elect credible leaders who can develop the county and protect them from people who are out to exploit them politically and economically.
“Cases of corruption, nepotism and clanism have engulfed the county. We must get rid of these vices,” he said as he cautioned voters against being lured with money and other incentives.
Mr Mose, a Nairobi-based advocate, says Nyamira County receives a lot of devolution funds and it is important to have a senator who will properly play the oversight role for the devolved unit.
“If we are to move forward as a civilised county, we must be on the lookout. I will work with members of the county assembly to ensure accountability in the devolved unit,” said Mr Mose.
Mr Mochenwa, a lands survey engineer, said poor oversight of resources in the county is to blame for underdevelopment, hence the need to change leadership.
He said there is a need to elect leaders who have people's interests at heart, noting that the allocation of funds was not the issue.
“According to the number of projects, we have done less in development. We cannot attribute it to poor leadership alone but the county assembly and the Senate have failed in executing their roles,” he said.