Sacrifice is not a popular concept in this country. It is associated with opportunity loss.
With our culture of self-betterment and self-interest, political sacrifice rubs the wrong way. Most politicians talk and yearn for more: Not of giving away. It is no wonder that most of them want to force themselves on the electorate, using every means at their disposal to stay in power.
Yet, sacrifice is supposed to be immanent. It is not something to regret. In February 1985, responding to the offer of freedom from former South Africa Prime Minister PW Botha, Nelson Mandela said he was not less “life-loving than you are. But I cannot sell my birthright, nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free.”
That is why, guided by the political sacrifice and public interest, I conceded defeat at my residence in Webuye last Friday morning. This was despite overwhelming pressure from different quarters that I dispute the outcome of the governor race, which put Ford Kenya’s Wycliffe Wangamati ahead of me by slightly more than 20,000 votes.
There is little doubt that Bungoma’s was a fierce battle: It pitted the establishment against an opposition that, as is always the case, was full of ruthlessly dirty tricks and propaganda. In a region that has historically been an opposition bedrock, selling the Jubilee agenda was not a walk in the park.
Initially, no one wanted to hear of Jubilee or see its red-branded materials. The region was basically a ‘Jubilee Tawe (No)’ zone. It was hostile. Time after time, its supporters would be attacked by the opposition. One such case was at Kibingei in Kimilili, where my campaign coordinator was killed and his son shot at.
The threats and attacks did not deter our quest for Jubilee dominance in Bungoma politics. With selfless devotion, well-defined strategies, self-discipline and hunger to achieve, I garnered more than 176,000 votes.
Indeed, under my captaincy, Jubilee’s intense forays in the region saw President Uhuru Kenyatta get 127,000 — approximately 30 per cent of the total votes tallied. This is way above the 2013 figure of 43,000 — representing a 195 per cent increase. At that time, opposition chief Raila Odinga got 185,000 votes. Propped up by the innumerable development projects that my government and Uhuru’s set up, Bungoma produced four MPs — Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Fredrick Kapondi (Mt Elgon), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West) and John Waluke (Sirisia).
Given the meritorious performance of the Jubilee Party in a traditionally left-wing political setup within a short period, there are strong pointers that Bungoma would turn out to be a red-zone by 2022. Bumula, Webuye East and Tongaren are certainly ripe for a political initiation.
But how can this be made possible?
The national government has to step up its development forays in the region, ranging from health, water, education, roads to power connections, among others. The ongoing tarmacking of the 28km Musikoma-Buyofu-Mungatsi road must be speeded up. So should the Kapsokwony-Namwela, Chwele-Lwakhakha and Brigadier-Naitiri roads.
Certainly, the completion of these roads will open up Bungoma for more trade and investments, pushing down poverty levels further. But getting these works done, and completed in time require goodwill and teamwork from both the national and county governments. This is because while the top government is Jubilee, Bungoma is now under Ford Kenya, one of the opposition outfits under NASA.
Crucially, Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto have a civic duty of bringing not only Bungoma but other Western leaders to the table. An inclusive government, as early as this year, is a crucial ingredient for an indisputable win for Jubilee in 2022.
As indicated in my concession speech, my loss in the governor race does not severe my ties with Bungoma: This is my home, and I have an obligation to transform it. I look forward to supporting and guiding my successor as he steers Bungoma to greater heights. Wherever he deviates from his promises, I will obviously seek to hold him to account.
Going forward, I am more than determined to paint Western red and advocate more development in the region.
With the country at a crossroads, Raila should concede defeat and allow the country to move forward.
is the first governor of Bungoma
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