One of Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) loyalists, Mr Opiyo Wandayi, is facing an uphill task in his quest to retain his Ugunja parliamentary seat as rivals, some of them from National Super Alliance (Nasa)-allied parties, line up to wrest it from him.
Three candidates: Mr Otieno Alur of Ford-Kenya, businessman Tom Nduku and lawyer M J Okumu — all independent candidates — are hell bent on unseating Mr Wandayi.
Ugunja Constituency was hived off the massive Ugenya Constituency in 2010, making it the sixth and smallest (in size) constituency in Siaya County.
At the time, the current Siaya Senator James Orengo was Ugenya MP.
In the 2013 General Election, Mr Wandayi became the first MP for Ugunja Constituency on an ODM ticket while Mr David Ochieng was elected Ugenya MP.
Mr Wandayi’s loyalty to ODM party leader and Nasa presidential flag-bearer Raila Odinga has since earned him a plum position in the Orange party, when he was nominated the ODM political affairs director.
The MP’s new position has brought mixed fortunes for him, as he has to juggle responsibilities arising from his national position and those touching on service to his constituents.
Mr Wandayi rose to the limelight in his lead role in ‘The Firimbi Movement’ — an opposition MPs’ lobby that at one time sought to disrupt President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address in the 11th Parliament.
The incident led to his suspension from the House for close to one year, as punishment.
Despite all these shortcomings, Mr Wandayi still believes that he served the Ugunja residents well, maintaining that he deserved to be re-elected so he can continue implementing his development agenda.
He argues that he diligently played his roles as a legislator, for the benefit of his constituents and all Kenyans.
“My politics revolves around the people and I am guided at all times by what is in the best interest of my constituents,” he said.
He lists his achievements as including the successful implementation of the constituency’s eight-pillar Strategic Plan, which he argues has played a significant role in transforming the education, health, infrastructure and water services in the constituency.
“I have achieved a lot in the last four and-a-half years, including the prudent use of NGCDF allocation and strategic partnerships with the private sector,” he added.
Nonetheless, the MP faces a barrage of accusations from his rivals, among them that he interfered with the ODM nominations.
Mr Wandayi however insists that the ODM certificates were issued to genuine winners in the nomination in Ugunja.
But his rivals are not taking his bragging lying down and have intensified their campaigns to wrest the seat from him.
Mr Alur says that his agenda and manifesto have bolstered his political stature, placing him in a key position to win the seat come the August 8 polls.
He accuses Mr Wandayi of neglecting his role as MP and giving more priority to national politics.
He termed Mr Wandayi’s year-long suspension from the House as having disgraced Ugunja voters.
“In 2013, I garnered over 13,000 votes but Mr Wandayi’s poor performance in the past four years has tripled my support. I will beat him in the polls because he has nothing to show for his tenure,” Mr Alur said.
The candidate also points an accusing finger at his rivals, including Mr Wandayi, for alleging using youths to intimidate him in his campaigns, accusations the others have denied.
“No one or nothing can stop me from liberating Ugunja residents from bondage imposed on them by Wandayi’s poor development record. The residents’ perceptions and demands have changed,” Mr Alur said.
If elected, the candidate says, he will give priority to provision of clean water to all homesteads in the constituency by sinking boreholes.
Mr Alur adds that he will invest in education by using his influence as MP to reach out to local and international investors as well as the county and national governments to boost learning in the constituency.
“This will help me fulfil my development and education agenda and ensure that learning conditions and lives of Ugunja Constituency residents are improved,” he said.
Mr Nduku backs Mr Alur’s claims that Mr Wandayi has failed in his tenure as MP, citing what he terms the poor state of roads and schools in the constituency.
He argues that the MP has failed to effectively use the emergency funds allocated in the CDF to rehabilitate dilapidated classrooms and build bridges.
Mr Nduku says that his leadership will be keen on making Ugunja Constituency an exporter of food instead of the current scenario in which all the food sold at Ugunja market is imported from other regions.
“It is high time Ugunja residents vetted their leaders and elected development-conscious ones who are keen on improving their livelihoods instead of those fond of serving their selfish interests and that of their political party,” Mr Nduku said.