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Oparanya support for deputy raises eyebrows in Kakamega

By People Reporter
Friday, June 18th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) endorsed his deputy Prof Philip Kutima (right) on Monday. Photo/PD/File

Denis Lumiti 

Last Monday’s endorsement by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya of his principal assistant  to succeed him in next year’s elections has kicked up a major political storm in the county.

Oparanya’s critics claim he wants to continue managing the county’s affairs by proxy.

While some argue that the incumbent’s nod is a plus to Deputy Governor Prof Philip Museve Kutima’s chances, others feel it is of no value. Some of the aspirants yesterday dismissed the endorsement, saying it was only meant to appease Kutima.

“Since declaring interest in the seat, I have never sought endorsement from anybody, including the governor. I am my own man and dealing directly with the ordinary voter,” said Lugari MP Ayub Savula.

He added: “My roots are in Malava and I can assure you that I will beat Kutima even in his own polling station.”

Kutima hails from Malava besides another contestant, Leonard Shimaka. 

Savula also traces his roots to the constituency, which has the highest number of votes in the county. His parents, however, relocated to Lugari.

Previously viewed as a dark horse in the race, the former Jomo Kenyatta University of  Agriculture and Technolgy (JKUAT) is fast emerging as a favourite though his performance in the polls is likely to be determined by the current administration’s scorecard.

Face accusations

Oparanya has been facing accusations of not fulfilling nearly all the promises he made eight years ago.

“He promised to revive Mumias Sugar Company and even released Sh200 million ostensibly for part bailout of sugarcane growers owed by the miller. But the funds were embezzled,” said Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah.

Malalah, who is among those in the race, also singled out Madala Tea Factory in Shinyalu, a maize milling plant in Lugari, fencing of the Kakamega Forest in addition to putting up of a cable car, besides introduction of new wild animals in the resource as some of the projects promised by the governor but which have not been initiated yet.

Oparanya’s critics also question the whereabouts of dairy cows purchased with hundreds of millions of shillings and donated to selected local residents.

“The county government said the one-cow initiative was meant to boost the local dairy industry but there is nothing to show for it to date.

Can they account for the millions pumped into that project?” posed Isukha South MCA Farouk Machanje.

There are also demands that the current administration accounts for millions of shillings allocated to the “Oparanyacare” programme where needy mothers who deliver in public hospitals enjoy a stipend of Sh2,000 each over a period of six months.

But the governor has often defended his track record, saying he had initiated massive projects across the county in spite of erratic funding from the Exchequer.

Some of his main flagship projects include the Kakamega County Referral Hospital, the Bukhungu Stadium and improved road network, especially in Kakamega town, putting up of polytechnics and ECDE centres.

“I have laid a firm foundation for the county. It has to be implemented over a period of time due to limited funding from the national government. That is why I need a successor that shares my vision,” he said.

Somebody else

Former Cabinet Minister Prof Amukowa Anangwe, who is also eyeing the seat, said Oparanya’s endorsement of his deputy was “obvious.” Anangwe observed it would have been a surprise if the governor had overlooked his deputy for somebody else.

“Some of us are in this race not because we expect favours from anybody. I am here for the votes and the end will justify the means,” said Anangwe who lost the Butere parliamentary seat to Oparanya in 2002.

Kutima has another task of choice of party due to the dwindling ODM fortunes in the county. He is the Orange party’s county chairman.

Even if he decides to bolt out and join other parties like ANC, which now commands substantial following in the county, he will have to contend with primaries where he will face the likes of Savula and Malalah.

People Reporter