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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Church, clannism to say next Homa Bay governor

Although ODM is the party of choice for the residents of Homa-Bay county and other parts of the greater South Nyanza, the next contest for the coveted position of governorship in the region will between the three churches with the largest following in the region.
     The three most influential churches include the Catholic, SDA, the Anglican and the Legio Maria comes fourth with Muslims coming fifth.
     The reason why it will be the battle between the three major churches with the largest following in the region is because each church, directly getting involved in the election campaigns would want to indirectly sponsor one of their own flock as member of their church.
     It has happened before in this region when in 1960s in Kisii during the snap election called by the then the governor of Kenya Sir Patrick Renson, the Catholic church openly asked its followers rally behind the late Lawrence Sagini, then a schoolteacher, while the SDA advised its followers to back the late James  Nyamweya then an advocate of the High Court. Owing to the numerical numbers of the Catholics, Sagini triumphed over Nyamweya.
     Clanism also played a pivotal role in the election. Clan politics in Kisii is known as “Obonyumba” in which the winner always depends on his clan to clinch an elective position irrespective of his or her suitability.
      In the next general election, the three would-be aspirants for the governorship position are three political giants for Homa-Bay county who include the incumbent Cyprian Awiti who is Catholic, Sammy Wakiaga, SDA, and James  Rege,Anglican.
    Rege is the MP for Karachuonyo constituency. Awiti also hails from Karachuonyo and the two are expected to divide the local votes, though the area has the largest registered votes with a record 134,000 voters covering Kasipul, Kabondo, and Karachuonyo. Karachuonyo alone has 65,000 registered voters and the old Kasipul-Kabondo constituency before its sub-division had registered the highest number of voters at 79,000.
      Among the three, only Rege has declared his interest in the governor’s seat currently held by Awiti. Wakiaga has yet to disclose his interest publicly, though his agents and proxies have already hit the ground. Wakiaga hails from Suba region which has registered voters numbering 60,000. His chances of clinching the position will depend on the SDA church and its followers, arguably the majority in the Southern Nyanza region.
     Wakiaga’s track record of development will also count a lot, especially when one takes into account how he has single- handedly built several ultra-modern SDA churches  across the county in which he is known to have parted with his personal fortunes running into millions of shillings.
    Governor Awiti has changed the face of Homa-Bay county through the installation of streetlights in all market places and trading centres using solar system. Awiti’s concerted efforts by the way of economically empowering the youths and women by providing these groups with tools of work valued at millions of shillings a not be gainsaid
    Awiti is standing on stable ground despite the recent inclusion of his name in the list of shame which was tabled in parliament in which he is being accused for not having followed the procedures in procurement and that he has squandered close to Sh200 million, which he had paid to some business people on dubious deals.
     He has vehemently denied having committed any wrong doing. But the electorates are anxiously waiting for the outcome of his interrogation and investigations by the EACC sleuths.Wakiaga whose wife Susan was recently appointed to a parastatal job by president Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have used his influence to have Awiti on the list.l
        Rege has the best track record as the Karachuonyo constituency MP where he has the most shining scorecard in development activities, especially by single-handedly sourcing for medical equipment for the hospitals band health centres based in rural areas. He is the only MP in Homa-Bay whose constituency CDF local committee is managed by university professors and other academicians for fair disbursement of the devolved government money meant for rural development..
     The MP was among those branded as rebels after they protested against the direct nomination of Moses Kajwang’ during the recent by-election in Homa Bay for the senator to take the seat left vacant by the demise of Otieno Kajwang. The direct nomination sparked off the strong protest by the electorate who felt they were being denied their constitutional and democratic rights to elet a Senator of their own choice.Raila has no time for Rege but gets on well with Awiti after he delivered the seat.
       Other MPs who joined Rege in the protest included Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Augustine Neto (Ndhiwa) and George Oner (Rangwe). The direct nomination exercise was endorsed by the ODM supremo Raila Odinga to the chagrins of the voters. The incident prompted the national ODM chairman John Mbandi to issue a stern warning to those who stayed away from the party campaigns for its  preferred candidate Moses Kajwang’ who eventually won the controversial by-election of  disciplinary action being taken against them.
       Going by the statistics and figures, SDA church has the largest following, mostly in Rachuonyo regions, Mbita, Rusinga, Kabuochando Kasipul Kabondo, followed closely by the catholics while the Anglicans are just a paltry few scattered in West Karachuonyo, Mbita and Awendo area of Migori county. Catholics are found in Karachuonyo West and Karachuonyo East and parts of Kasipul and Kabondo areas.
     Taking all the above reasons into account, the forthcoming contest for the Homa-Bay governor’s position looks like a battle of giants between the three men who are also resourceful with sufficient means to deploy and oil their campaign.
    As things stand now,Awiti is the man to watch come 2017.ODM candidate will carry the day with church,clannism coming second.