Despite five candidates being cleared to vie for the Mumias West parliamentary seat, the contest however appears to be a three-horse race.
The race pits incumbent Johnson Naicca (ODM) against Festo Fadamula of the Amani National Congress, Jubilee’s Rashid Mohammed, Julius Odongo (Independent) and Mr Mohammed Mukhwana of the United Democratic Party (UDP).
As the campaigns enter homestretch, with candidates doing all they can to woo voters to their side, Mr Naicca finds himself boxed into a corner.
As the incumbent, his opponents have unleashed all manner of ammunition against him, accusing him of doing little to develop the constituency during his time in office.
However, the MP has not taken the accusations lying down.
“I did a lot in my four-year period as MP. I’ve played a major role in improving education standards in the region by constructing classrooms in numerous schools,” he says.
He further claims to have helped set up a police post at Musanda as well as an AP camp in Buchifi and Otiato markets.
He points out that he has also enhanced the security sector by putting up a police post at Musanda, administration police camps at Buchifi and Otiato markets, thus improving the region’s security.
“I have also erected solar lighting systems in several market centres, which has allowed traders to work late hours,” he goes on.
“I have also done a lot to improve the livelihood of my constituents. I, therefore, request them to give me a second chance to enable me complete the development projects I started. New leadership will cause these projects to stall,” he adds.
Mr Mohammed, the Jubilee candidate, however differs.
“In 2013, we voted along party lines. ODM then gave us a person who has been unable to develop this region.
“It is high time this changed. I am appealing to them to, therefore, elect me because of my ability to develop this constituency,” he says.
“The fact that I am in the President’s party speaks volumes. I can assure you that this will only translate to more development projects to this region,” he went on.
Mr Mohammed said if elected, he will prioritise the improvement of infrastructure in the region as well as standards of living by starting income generating activities for the locals.
“Mumias West needs fresh blood and leadership that will allow residents to participate in the decision-making process by stating the development projects they want to be implemented in order of priority,” Mr Mohammed says.
Mr Fadamula, on the other hand, promises transparency and accountability in the management of the constituency’s affairs.
“The great journey to salvage Mumias West from under-development has begun.
“It is about who can amicably approach issues affecting our people and address them,” he says.
The plight of sugarcane farmers has emerged as a major factor that could decide who the region’s next representative will be.
Mr Mohammed, who was at one time ODM’s youth leader before defecting to Jubilee, says: “The incumbent failed to help find a solution to the problems facing Mumias Sugar Company, yet the factory is located in his constituency.”
READ: Mumias Sugar to get Sh3bn more in bailout
He further took issue with Mr Mukhwana for failing to address the revival of the sugar miller when he served as a Kenya Sugar Board director.
Mr Mukhwana however scoffed at the accusations.
He said while at the Sugar board, he ensured that the miller was allocated enough funds to sustain its operations.
“Mumias financial woes began after the Kenya Sugar Board was dissolved.
“My role as a director at the former KSB saw a number of bridges constructed to facilitate transportation of sugarcane from the fields to the miller,” Mr Mukhwana says.
Mr Mukhwana added: “The forensic report by audit and consulting firm KPMG gave accounts of how the sugar factory was brought to its knees.
“Every process at Mumias was abused for the benefit of a few individuals,” he said.
Mr Odongo, on the other hand, promises to initiate small-scale manufacturing industries to provide employment opportunity to the increasing number of jobless youth.
Mr Mohammed said if elected, he will prioritise the improvement of infrastructure.