Battle of titans expected in Teso South as 2022 poll draws closer

Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong

As things stand now MP Geoffrey Omuse and Mary Emase are Mr Ojaamong’s biggest rivals in the race for the Teso South seat since the two have represented the constituency in Parliament before and are still hungry to serve

By The Weekly Vision Online

Busia County’s South Teso Constituency is home to the county’s first governor Sospeter Ojaamong who served as area MP for two terms. The governor is set to contest for the constituency’s parliamentary seat yet again when his two-term governorship comes to an end next year.

The constituency is also known to have produced the second woman Member of Parliament on the (URP) party ticket, Mary Emase in the 2013 general elections; she was later bundled out after serving for one as MP term by current MP Geoffrey Omuse of ODM. 

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It is emerging that during next year’s elections, the seat will be hotly contested with stakes being pushed higher than ever before in the constituency’s history. Current legislator Mr Omuse has already declared that he will be defending his seat, while Mary Emase has also declared that she will be back in the race to try and recapture her former seat. The other aspiring candidate who has declared interest is a new entrant in the constituency’s politics Mr Owen Ematang’ Etaru who will be battling it out against heavily seasoned politicians. However, as things stand Mr Omuse and Mary Emase are for now, Mr Ojaamong’s biggest rivals in the race for the seat since the two have represented the constituency in Parliament before and are still hungry to serve. 

Mr Ojaamong first entered into active politics when grabbed the then Amogoro constituency’s seat in the 2002 general elections bundling out the then veteran MP the late Oduya Oprong

Busia County is home to seven constituencies with the Teso community having two, North and South Teso, the Bakhayo community also two with Nambale and Matayos, while the Samia community has one, Funyula, the Marachi community has one, Butula and lastly the Banyala with one, Budalangi.

Mr Geoffrey Omuse MP Teso South

Outgoing governor Sosperter Ojaamong first made his interest in the seat last year during a function at his Okilidu village home in Chakol division and has since persistently reiterated that he will go back to voters to ask them for a job as area MP yet again, arguing that he is still too young to retire from elective politics.

Soon after that declaration, Mr Ojaamong has aggressively traversed the constituency at every available opportunity in a clear early campaign mode to recapture the seat.  Mr Ojaamong first entered into active politics when grabbed the then Amogoro constituency’s seat in the 2002 general elections bundling out the then veteran MP the late Oduya Oprong who hailed from Teso North after a stint by the late Pancras Otwani, Mr Ojaamong’s neighbour from Teso South. He received heavy support from the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s family, whose support he still enjoys to date.

Just like Funyula constituency and before Amogoro was divided into two, the constituency was also plagued by the Teso North/South political divide with the North Teso always fighting to keep the seat within their stranglehold while those from the South right from Ojaamong’s late father the late Ojamaa Ojamoong fighting to keep it in the hands of the Southerners

After the emergence of devolved governments in Kenya, Mr Ojaamong decided to contest and was elected as the county’s first governor during the general elections held in 2013 with the backing of his Bakhayo uncles. He has served two terms as governor and the law prohibits him to vie for the seat again. 

Former MP Mary Emase

Interestingly just like Funyula constituency and before Amogoro was divided into two, the constituency was also plagued by the Teso North/South political divide with the North Teso always fighting to keep the seat within their stranglehold while those from the South right from Ojaamong’s late father the late Ojamaa Ojamoong fighting to keep it in the hands of the Southerners. The other legislator from Teso North was the late Achiya Echakara who sadly met his death in Nairobi during his first tenure before the late Otwani from Teso South, a seasoned veteran school principal took over.

The Teso North/South divide right from independence was broken when the constituency was divided into two before the 2007 general elections. This time around, the governor who is an ODM member is reportedly not going to find it easy in dethroning the incumbent legislator Omuse, despite his financial might and influence with his development record already coming under acute microscopic scrutiny, a record that has forced him to go on the defensive. As a matter of fact, before the end of last year, the critical question of development projects and his achievements in the constituency had already taken centre stage and as the clock whirls faster towards next year’s general elections, the matter is already coming to the fore with a deadly vengeance.

Interestingly during the 2013 general elections, Teso North and South were the only constituencies from the county that produced MPs sponsored by the then Jubilee coalition affiliated URP party that belonged to Deputy President William Ruto. They were Mary Emase (South) and Arthur Odera (North) who was also bundled out of office at the last general elections after serving for only one term each.

Mr Omuse the Teso South legislator who took over from Mary Emase claims that Ojaamong’s 20-year development record cannot match what he has done in the constituency since he was elected in 2017 adding that he will do more given a second term to lead the constituency, compared to what Ojaamong would do 

On the ground, it is a widely known open secret that Ojaamong is saying that health, education, development of social infrastructure, security lighting at market centres, construction and rehabilitation of markets among other amenities are critical sectors that his leadership improved during his tenure as MP and as governor.

In the recent past, he has been quoted in sections of the local media saying: “My government has installed pipelines from boreholes to supply water to primary schools and other institutions not only in Teso South but the entire county. Water availability in learning institutions in Busia county has greatly improved. Soon after my government procured a modern water drilling rig, I directed the water department to drill boreholes.”

The governor goes on: “My government has employed Early Childhood Education (ECD) teachers in schools apart from numerous projects in the county and investment in critical sectors has uplifted the livelihoods of residents of Busia County.” It is on record that both Emase and Omuse have claimed that Mr Ojaamong’s development record has been a subject of discussion from county residents since he became governor in 2013, the most critical area being the roads in Busia town the county’s headquarters which had been abandoned to rot away and decay particularly during his first term but only addressed during the second term.

The duo is on record claiming that the county chief does not deserve to represent the constituency since the governor has had little to show as his leadership for the last 20.  Mr Omuse the Teso South legislator who took over from Mary Emase claims that Ojaamong’s 20-year development record cannot match what he has done in the constituency since he was elected in 2017 adding that he will do more given a second term to lead the constituency, compared to what Ojaamong would do. 

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