A dark cloud of uncertainty has encircled the Homa Bay county with giants putting their best fits to battle it out in what has been described as the fiercest gubernatorial race in Nyanza with big names expected to swear it out in succeeding Cyprian Awiti who is serving his last term.
Considered an ODM home turf, the seat has attracted Homa Bay woman representative Gladys Wanga and former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who are seen as the top contenders.
Others who have also declared their interest for the seat include ODM National Chairman John Mbadi, Senator Moses Kajwang, who are all eying to win the governor seat, Isaiah Ogwe, Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori, former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, serial fake gold scammer Jared Otieno Kiasa among others.
There are credible fears that if the political giants don’t shelve their ambitions and goes on to contest then they’ll miss out on being in parliament. There have been lobbying for the sitting MPs to rescind their ambitions to keep the party representation solid in parliament. Wanga, Kajwang and Mbadi have particularly been approached to hold on to their parliamentary seats for them to be appointed CSs in the next government should BBI sail through and Raila Odinga become the President. Both have stood their grounds to go ahead with the race. Wanga chairs the National Assembly Finance Committee, while Kajwang is in the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee which he once served as the chair for two terms.
Oyugi Magwanga will be giving the seat a second shot after coming close to winning in 2017. Viewed by his proponents as reformist, Magwanga will be relying on his development records from his days in parliament while campaigning. Jared Otieno Kiasa, Mr. Moneybags has been painting the village red with money through his Jared Otieno foundation in popularizing his featherweight bid.
Isaiah Ogwe is super corrupt and dirty, he is not the favourite but he has looted enough to finance a couple of MCA aspirants to sell his candidature.
Political analysts have however narrowed down the race to a two-horse with Kidero and Wanga going after each other’s necks. Kidero a late entrant into the race, popped up when Wanga’s shine was at its peak and the race was hers to lose. His entrance has caused jitters in both parties that were caught off guard and had to restrategize.
Known for his deep pockets, the embattled former Nairobi chief is speculated to have set aside over Sh6B for his campaigns with his loyalists saying he’s on for the takes and nothing under. While Wanga has been campaigning on several development projects that she authored, Kidero is being seen more based on his wallet, and little on his perceived track record in Nairobi. Critics have faulted Kidero for ‘relegating’ to village politics in vying in Homa Bay after the luxurious Nairobi county, they argue that he should instead go for higher seat like the presidency, but the former Governor has been spending most of his days in court perhaps he hasn’t been able to sit down for himself and think much about it.
The billionaire who’s also embroiled in a divorce case with his wife is known to being one of the biggest financiers of ODM making things look a bit more awkward given that Wanga is one of Raila’s close confidants, the conflicting interests puts not only the party in awkward situation but the party leader too as he must be seen as neutral.
Many also view Kidero as a braggart , a spoiled man who’s not in anyway in touch with the ground. His mit ku stints in Mumias which he was accused of contributing towards its collapse and Nairobi whose coffered were left emptied taking him to court continues to bite him back.
Due to her aggressiveness and great mobilization prowess, Raila has often trusted Wanga with major responsibilities in the party. During the 2017 general elections, Wanga together with Oburu were charged with overseeing ODM affairs in Nyanza including ensuring smooth party primaries and smooth ticketing, they were trusted with handling the finances and nitty gritty details of the party.
She has also been tasked with BBI mobilization and the recently held meeting in Kisumu bringing together Luo Nyanza politicians and community leaders. In the recently held by election in Matungu constituency where ODM came a close second to winning, Wanga was tasked the role of chief agent for the party while Raila was in Mombasa the same times for BBI coastal tour.
If anything, she has earned her worth.
While her campaign machinery in Homabay are up and running, critics are also out in full swing poking holes in her gown. Some have smeared the legislator of being close to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, they claim she is working with him at a time when there’s a rift in the handshake over BBI with ODM accusing Statehouse of interfering with the secretariat. Critics have been using Wanga’s recent meeting with Matiang’i in Nyamira to campaign against her.
Sincere gratitude to my colleague @PeterMunya, CAS Chris Obure, PS @susan_mochache, Gov. Amos Nyaribo, Sen. Okong’o Mogeni, MPs @gladyswanga, Mburi Apuri, and Shadrack Mose for answering the call to support the church and responding in such a tremendous way. pic.twitter.com/WTEKgkTUEQ— Dr. Fred Matiang'i (@FredMatiangi) March 7, 2021
Another weak link in Wanga’s campaign team is her own brother Robert Nyasuna who’s been micromanaging the entire secretariat. He is the chief strategist a master of everything something that has not gone down well with many. Nyasuna also served as Wanga’s secretary in parliament between 2013-17 during her first term, he then moved to Kisumu working with Nyamunga.
Nyasuna has particularly been called out over incompetence, with those in the know trashing him as not being fit for the major position he’s holding. “A Shari is Wanga Kuria bure”. He wants his hands on everything that he has no idea about and doesn’t take advices from others.
Robert is also the one who micromanaged Wanga’s 2018 tournament but would only spend most of his nights in Tourist Hotel Homa Bay drinking and entertaining women. During the 2017 elections when Wanga was responsible for the Nyanza presidential campaigns, a number of aspirants cried foul as he would approach them for handouts in exchange for preferential treatment.
Known for his insatiable appetite for campaign money, he has always found his ways to being the manager of her sisters campaign, he’s said to take a cut from every campaign tender that comes in. All merchandise tenders are take by the family.
Wanga’s campaign has been left exposed by poor shock absorbing skills, because propaganda is at an all time high, the team has cheapened their course by responding to everything said against Wanga instead of skillful and tactical response, this is politics and not church service.
Wanga recently came under fire from Kenyans after it emerged that she was amongst the 16 MPs who traveled to Dubai on a financial training course.
This came at a cost around Sh10 million for business class tickets, hotel accommodation, per diems and the cost of the course. The MPs, including the Finance committee chairperson Gladys Wanga, took a five-day ‘masterclass’ in Public Finance Management. The course was conducted by Zoe Talent Management, one of the many HR companies in Dubai that offer such courses.
This trip was absurd. Firstly, there is supposedly a ban on foreign travel at the moment because of government’s cash flow crisis. Surely the parliamentary Finance committee should have respected that! Secondly, Dubai is a Covid hotspot with much higher rates of infection than Kenya.
Wanga also got into a heated exchange with Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo as the county supremacy battles spilt into Parliament.
The two MPs who have had long-standing differences, engaged in a spat on the floor of the House.
Gogo took on Wanga, claiming that the Woman Rep has developed a habit of traversing her constituency and launching development projects without her knowledge.
With the battle lines now clearly drawn, the race for Homa Bay remains a shit storm, who will blink first, will egos get the bigger share of the cake than strategies? And with only months to the elections, there’s so little time and so much to do, more so there’s no space for making mistakes.
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