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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Coffin for Governor Akaranga

Services were paralysed at the trouble-torn Vihiga County Referral Hospital when in a twist of events, a coffin was mysteriously dumped at the entrance of the county headquarters to the shock and amazement of many following a strike by healthworkers at the facility.
The health workers downed tools demanding payment of their February salaries. Besieged governor Moses Akaranga who addressed the workers on the first day of the strike asked them to accept working in the crisis-riddled county or go back to their homes. The governor has recently been at the centre of yet another storm from businessmen and traders after it emerged that he was planning that they buy and hang his portrait in their shops and offices at a fee but he quickly made a 180-degrees turn.
On the second day of the strike, the mortuary which had been closed was jammed with bereaved relatives who could not pick bodies of their next of kin sparking protests at the mortuary. After waiting in vain for the opening of the mortuary, angry relatives, carrying a coffin marched to the nearby county offices where Akaranga’s office is located and dumped the coffin at the entrance of the offices demanding to be addressed by the governor.
They went into frenzy and shouted that Akaranga had surrounded himself with political brokers and family members who were motivated by self-interests at the expense of service delivery to residents of Vihiga.
We have since established that the governor’s son Aston Akaranga, an employee of National Assembly, using companies registered in the name of his Kamba wife is using the companies to clinch lucrative business at the county. She is said to have control over procurement and accounts department where she harasses anybody who fails to play to her game. As a result, she is in supplies and road construction with her firms being paid upfront as workers protest over salaries.
Insiders within the county offices claim it is part of this payments and kickbacks Akaranga has been able to buy huge chunks of land and construct a house in his rural village. The house master bedroom has water heaters bullet proof glass windows and makes it the only of its kind in Western province. Even that of Musalia Mudavadi cannot match. He plans to construct a swimming pool, an automatic electric gate and surveillance security lights with hidden cameras which can pick someone at a distance.
That corruption is at the centre of the happenings at the county is no longer a secret. An invoice by a businessman from Emuhaya who happens to be close to the governor is being circulated. The over Sh3million invoice involves seminar, food and drinks offered. The number of those who attended has been raised. A plate of food costs each Sh2000, soda Sh200 per bottle with bottled water costing Sh300 per bottle.
Surprisingly, the same person is demanding Sh60 million from the county for road projects. Tender to supply tissue bananas and tree seedlings was awarded and paid in advance. Farmers up to now, despite preparing their farms mid last year to plant bananas are a dissillusioned lot. They have not received banana stems.
Construction of a radio station which was given to a well known political broker with no knowledge in the electronic media industry has stalled.
The said broker whose financial status are in doldrums forcing him to call a harambee to pay college fees for his wife has formed a lobby group to campaign for Akaranga 2017 re-election.
Another beneficiary from the county is a Nairobi-based firm Stimal Office Supplies. Akaranga is accused of practicing nepotism and openly lobbying for a son of his friend Ondego to land a docket in the health department despite his academic papers being questionable. Roads at the county headquarters are in bad shape. This is all happenning as a reverend of Pentecostal Assemblies of God who on daily basis enjoys a full bottle of red wine in the evening claims to be running the county. Political brokers have invaded his office some even creating office space for themselves and being on the county payroll with no official duties to perform and with no letters of appointment.
As Akaranga works on his re-election plan, he has openly stated he will not have his deputy Caleb Amaswache as his running mate. His allies say Amasweche is more of a liability than an asset to governor. He is accused of frequenting social joints with female friends where he orders for drinks as he enjoys his rumba music. Akaranga and his deputy are often found at Roddys Place on Luanda-Busia highway. Commonly referred to as Yokozunna (because of his body size), Amaswache liking for kisses when drunk is the talk at the county. He is also said to be a mean man.
Already, Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu has declared he will oppose Akaranga. On the other side Wibur Otichillo, the Emuhaya MP is under pressure to run for the seat on Cord ticket. Cord in 2013 fronted Kennedy Butiko for the seat but has since defected to Maendeleo party. Professionals from the county allied to Cord are said to be fronting for Otichillo and George Khaniri for senator. Khaniri is planning to defect to ODM.
Back to the coffin saga, the governor did not leave his office and efforts by his political adviser Fridah Chahale to address the protesters  failed as she was booed down. Later on, the chief officer for health Andrew Ondego addressed them and accompanied them to open the mortuary.
Addressing the press later, Kenya National Union of Nurses Vihiga branch secretary Caleb Maloba and chairman Zadock Miheso said the striking workers will not resume duty until they are paid their salaries.
They said the workers performed duty in difficult circumstances with supply of water and electricity at the health facility disconnected. They claimed senior officers intimidated them to resume duty yet they were fighting for their rights.
In Nairobi, an NGO official Jonnies Asimekha has been tasked to work on modalities and time frame to start collecting signatures, organise demonstrations on the ground to force accountability in the use of county funds. Already a lobby group Vihiga for Change with officials and membership spread across the five constituencies is being worked on. Asimekha is the coordinator. Its first task is to move to court and challenge Linet Abdalla’s occupation of the office. Things seem not to be a bed of roses for the embattled governor.