Bungoma County gubernatorial aspirant Alfred Khang’ati (Right) with Bumula constituency parliamentary aspirant Patrick Wandabusi. (Photo: Titus Oteba/Standard)
The Bungoma gubernatorial seat is likely to be one of the most hotly contested positions in the western region.
The seat has so far attracted four aspirants, including the incumbent, Ken Lusaka.
Former Kanduyi MP Alfred Khang’ati will try his luck on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket while Wycliffe Wangamati (businessman) and Consumers Federation of Kenya Secretary General Stephen Mutoro will first battle it out in the Ford Kenya primaries.
Mr Lusaka is seeking re-election on a Jubilee Party ticket.
However, it is not yet clear if opposition affiliate parties under NASA will field their respective candidates or if they will settle on one individual to give Lusaka a run for his money.
While Lusaka has insisted that he deserves a second term to complete the projects he started, his rivals think he has let down Bungoma residents.
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“My development track record speaks for itself and locals know what I have done. Those who think I have done nothing don’t understand what development is. That is why I am seeking re-election to be able to complete what I have started,” Lusaka said.
He cited infrastructure, an improved health sector, better farming practices. and three classrooms for pre-school learners in every ward as some of the development projects his administration has accomplished.
“Bungoma is not where it was when I took over. Roads in the county’s towns were full of potholes. I have done a lot and as the first governor, the first term was challenging since we were putting structures in place,” he added.
Lusaka, who is also the Jubilee point man in the western region, told his rivals to outline their development agenda to the electorate instead of criticising his administration and achievements.
“My competitors should brace for a tough battle because some of them are coming into the race to look for positions and not to serve the people of Bungoma. They are busy making wild allegations about my administration without giving people their agenda on what they want to do,” stated Lusaka.
Khang’ati will be making a second stab at the Bungoma gubernatorial position. He said that he was the most qualified and competent because of his experience in the public and private sectors that would enable him to take Bungoma county to great heights.
He accused Governor Lusaka of abetting corruption in the county.
“I look forward to providing responsible leadership devoid of corruption when elected,” said Khang’ati, who is a land economics graduate from the University of Nairobi.
He claimed that Lusaka’s administration has ignored youth, women, and less privileged individuals in the society. He said his past performance has not been tainted by corruption.
“My second focus will be to streamline health and education and empower youth and women who have not benefited from county jobs and tenders,” added Khang’ati.
Wangamati named his three pillars as optimum resource allocation, zero tolerance for corruption, and equity for all people.
“I am in this race in order to create jobs for residents and enhance the county’s economy through partnership with the private sector,” he said.
He notes that Bungoma is strategically located but continues to lag behind as a result of poor infrastructure.
“Bungoma has not been able to optimally leverage its strategic position to gain maximum benefit from the robust movement of goods worth billions of shillings passing through the area,” he explained.
Wangamati added that his administration would ensure that youth and women benefit from the 30 per cent tender and contract rule at the county, in line with the Constitution.
Wangamati’s candidature was endorsed two years ago by Senator Moses Wetang’ula and he has since been traversing the county campaigning.
Mutoro said he was best suited to beat Lusaka, adding that he wants to write off the wrongs of the current regime.
“I believe I am strong, clean, and I have not been mentioned in any scandal. I want to undo the great damage corruption has done in this county. My ultimate goal will be to create wealth and employment for the youth,” said the Cofek secretary general.
He stated that his administration would work to attract investors and create a conducive environment for them.
“My idea is to work with investors and create a good environment for them because no county can get jobs without public-private partnership. Reforms in infrastructure, education, and health will also be my top priority,” said Mutoro.
And last week in Bungoma, Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa endorsed Lusaka’s re-election and urged the local residents to support him, saying he had initiated many development projects.
“Lusaka has set a firm foundation for Bungoma and I want to support and encourage him as he seeks re-election. Those writing off Lusaka and Jubilee in Bungoma are on their own,” said Wamalwa.
On whether the NASA affiliate parties would have a joint candidate, Khang’ati said “we don’t want to go to that direction and I can openly say ODM is going to the ballot with its candidates in various elective posts. We have already paid nomination fees and if we are forced to go that route, there are many options for us.”
Also, a section of leaders want Senator Wetang’ula to go for the gubernatorial seat but he has insisted that he is still in the presidential race.
Kabuchai/Chwele Ward MCA Barasa Mukhongo opined that Wetang’ula should battle it out with Lusaka.
Mukhongo further claimed that it would be easier for Wetang’ula to win the gubernatorial seat than the more competitive presidential race.