Busia Governor Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong. (Photo: File/Standard)
Seven aspirants have declared their interest to unseat Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, with campaigns pointing to a bruising battle.
Ojaamong and Funyula MP Paul Otuoma will first fight for Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.
But the governor seems to have a head start. Last July, the party leader Raila Odinga endorsed Ojaamong for second term during a tour of western after the resignation of Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and Otuoma as ODM secretary general and vice chairman respectively.
Otuoma later returned to ODM and regained the vice chairman post.
Other contestants are Vincent Sidai who will be making a second stab, Humphrey Nakitare who recently resigned as Kisumu County Secretary and former Nzoia Sugar Company Managing Director Francis Oyatsi. The three will be competing for the Amani National Congress party (ANC) ticket.
The seat has also attracted Lucas Meso, the managing director at Agriculture Finance Cooperation, and Dan Barasa, a former managing director of National Irrigation Board both who are eyeing Jubilee Party ticket.
Ford Kenya party candidate is Michael Oloo.
The cosmopolitan county is a NASA stronghold. During the last polls, ODM won the three parliamentary seats namely Budalang’i, Funyula and Matayos while URP took Teso South and Teso North.
Ojaamong says he is banking on projects his administration has accomplished to drive his re-election agenda.
However, the Funyula lawmaker says the governor has failed to initiate any meaningful projects in the county.
Ojaamong insists that he deserves a second term in order to fulfill his entire manifesto.
The governor cites technology used in the 110 boreholes project that has enabled wananchi get free water, 1,600km roads opened within the county and purchase of construction equipment including tractors, rollers and caterpillars.
“I have played my role effectively as a governor and I am banking on my scorecard performance to be re-elected. My administration has carried out a number of projects starting from water sector, infrastructure, education and health,” Ojaamong to The Standard.
Ojaamong further says his government has constructed over 200 early childhood development education classrooms and has put up a drug store in Matayos constituency that can stock three-month medical stock.
He says his administration purchased seven ambulances and was instrumental in pushing for the first medical training college in Busia that will admit 120 students to train as nurses this month.
“Busia is on the right track and we have ensured every sector has benefited from devolution funds. We also have revolving funds for bright and needy students, farm inputs supplied to farmers which has increased acreage and equipped youth empowerment centres,” adds Ojaamong.
Ojaamong challenged his competitors to outline their manifestos to Busia residents and tell them what they can do instead of engaging in divisive politics.
“My competitors can clearly see what I have done. Let them offer what they can do best but to say my administration has failed is a lie. Some of them are busy talking negatively about my administration yet their past records is well known,” he said.
Otuoma, who is serving his second term as lawmaker, says he has what it takes to replace the incumbent and his priority will be to empower women, distribute resources equally to all those residing in the county, create jobs for youths and initiate development projects.
“I want to offer good leadership at the grassroots in terms of resource distribution, development initiatives and creation of wealth and empowerment of women and youth. I believe I have what it takes to achieve all that and my quest to be Busia governor is unstoppable,” said Otuoma.
Otuoma reiterated that his administration will address corruption which has left many residents impoverished and revive collapsed industries that went under, including Mulwanda and Nambale ginneries and revival of the fishing sector.
“I intend to revive all collapsed factories as means of creating employment because their downfall continues to affect the county’s economic growth. I will also fight corruption which has been the order of the day in Busia,” Otuoma added.
Mr Nakitare, who has served as a civil servant, says his administration will ensure devolution is fully implemented and resources well distributed in the seven sub-counties. He also promises to fight corruption.
“I will deal with corruption firmly. I don’t believe in tribalism and I will strive to bring the county together. Today’s resources are holed at county headquarters. I guarantee that resources will be equally distributed to the grassroots,” said Nakitare.
He said he would streamline Malaba, Funyula and Busia border points, improve infrastructure and make Budalangi a tourist destination.
“I will encourage opening up of the border points like in Funyula to ease the traffic snarl menace in a bid to bring revenue and put them in good standards. Health facility for rural mothers and widows will be constructed,” he said.
In last polls, the county had a pre-election negotiated democracy in terms of sharing elective seats among the seven constituencies.
Ojaamong says he is ready for nominations adding that ODM will support him owing to his strong network and his loyalty to the party.
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“I hope it will be a free and fair exercise. I am the incumbent so that is a plus to the party. I have never neglected the party and I have supported party’s programmes in the county alone. These are some of the issues that will give me an upper hand but above all wananchi will decide,” said Ojaamong.
The Funyula legislator has assured all aspirants that party nominations will be free and fair and maintaining that he is in ODM to stay and whoever loses should not decamp.
“I am in ODM and I will take on Ojaamong in the primaries. I am confident I will defeat him during the party’s nominations. I hope he will not decamp but remain in the party,” said Otuoma.