Fierce battle looms in Matayos constituency as polls draw closer

Geoffrey Odanga MP Matayos constituency

Emerging facts are that in the last two general elections current MP Odanga had weak candidates facing him at the polls. Being a teacher he reportedly used the Matayos Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to develop and improve many educational institutions – but also that is being put to task and questions raised by opponents in the 2022 general elections led by Commissioner Nakitare

By The Weekly Vision Online

Next year’s general elections have already raised political temperatures among ordinary citizens and those interested in elective seats across the country, right from the Presidency, Senate, the National Assembly to the County Assemblies. Today we focus on constituencies in Busia County in Western Kenya with indications that the incumbent M P’s in the seven constituencies will be having uphill battles defending their seats from highly motivated new entrants.

The current sitting MPs are Raphael Wanjala, Budalangi, Wilberforce Mudenyo, Funyula, Geoffrey Odanga, Matayos, Joseph Oyula, Butula, John Bunyasi, Nambale, Geoffrey Omuse South Teso and Edward Kaunya Oku North Teso.

In Matayos Constituency which hosts the county’s headquarters and one of the most populous, Mr Odanga who has been having it easy since the constituency was hived off from the larger Nambale, this time around he is in big trouble. Indeed Matayos constituency also happens to be home to the country’s longest-serving Attorney General Amos Wako who also made history having served two former Presidents, the late Daniel Arap Moi and his successor Emilio Mwai Kibaki. 

Map of Matayos constituancy in Busia County

The story does not stop there since it is a constituency full of highly experienced professionals who have served both in the public service and the private sector, the most notable being former Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh – a career provincial administrator who went through the ranks before being appointed P.S. under the old constitutional dispensation. The other leading professional career administrator is Humphrey Nakitari who rose through the ranks to become the Regional Commissioner in the former Nyanza Province, a position that was previously known as Provincial Commissioner (PC) and this is the man to watch in this constituency come 2022 general elections.

There are other professionals like the former National Irrigation Board (NIB) Chief Executive, Eng. Dan Barasa who contested for the Busia County’s gubernatorial seat during the last elections and lost to the incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamong’. 

The other powerful professional personality from Matayos was indeed Nakitari’s neighbour and former Managing Trustee of the National Social Security Fund, the late Martin Kunguru a man of the people just like Mr Nakitari. A leading personality of then feared Seven Tigers of the larger Nambale constituency who were cut down systematically from their positions by former area legislator Chris Okemo when he was also a cabinet minister in Moi’s government.

Okemo feared for his political survival after flooring the then only cabinet minister from the county, then minister for Labour Phillip Masinde also from the same Matayos constituency – that is because of the power these personalities wielded or influenced not only in Nambale/Matayos but also the entire county. That was especially through the then also powerful Bukhayo Welfare Association that catered for the socio-economic welfare interests of the larger Nambale constituency’s people, indeed one of its founder leaders was Mr Nakitari’s neighbour the late Mr Kunguru in Matayos.

The other leading professional luminaries who were known as the Seven Tigers from Nambale included Senator Wako, the late Peter Kubebea the Former NSSF Finance Manager also from Matayos constituency, the former Nation Media Group Marketing Manager, the late Leonard Radoli (Nambale), Senior lawyer Gervase Akhabi (Nambale), Mr Mondoh then a powerful District Commissioner (Matayos), the late Ernest Edewa Bunyasi former Chief Executive the defunct Kenya National Assurance and the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) from (Nambale) and former late ambassador Denis Afande also from Matayos.

The biggest irony of the whole business is the fact that Okemo who had held the Nambale constituency in a political stranglehold was bundled out of politics of the county by none other than a Matayos personality Mr Amos Wako. 

It was on his first attempt at elective politics to get the Busia County Senatorial seat and Okemo abandoned the constituency politics to go for the Senatorial seat in 2012 under the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya 2010 and lost.

After rigging the contest between himself (Okemo) and his cousin a retired Senior World Bank Manager, John Sakwa Bunyasi, the latter who is now serving his second term as Nambale constituency legislator eventually sailed through but they don’t see eye to eye with Okemo.  Yet another irony is the fact that personalities from Matayos even after it was hived out of the larger Nambale constituency has played and continue to play a central role in the county’s politics. Right from the 1st cabinet minister from the larger Nambale Mr Masinde from Matayos sub-county’s Nangwe area near Busia town the county headquarters.

Luckily for Odanga Matayos had already been hived out of the larger Nambale to become an independent constituency therefore he had an easy ride with massive financial support from Senator Wako both on ODM tickets including Ojaamong to gain entry into national politics for the first in his lifetime.

The emerging facts are that in the last two general elections Odanga has been having weak candidates at the polls. Being a teacher he reportedly used the Matayos Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to develop and improve many educational institutions – but also that is being put to task and questions raised by opponents in the 2022 general elections led by Commissioner Nakitare.

The seasoned and experienced professional administrator who wanted the Busia gubernatorial seat at the last general elections was prevailed upon not to vie for be the governor of Busia County’s job he is now among others like Catherine Omanyo Kipepeo, a loser at the last elections, Polycarp Onyango, Patrick Naholi out to challenge Odanga for the Matayos constituency’s job in 2022.

During the last general elections, Odanga reportedly did not have strong opponents to challenge him but having served two terms with little to show this time round he is in big trouble with opponents led by Mr Nakitari from Mundika area of that county and former NIB’s boss Eng. Barasa among others may complicate things for him.

It is also a veritable fact that Nambale/Matayos residents have a tendency of giving an MP only two terms apart from Okemo whose political fortunes were crumbling but managed to find himself in for the third term.

Other candidates whose names are being mentioned for the 2022 race include Ms Omanyo who is out to make a second attempt and a new entrant Phaustine Barasa – a career teacher and the current Busia County CEC for finance but who voters in the constituency have accused of only employing her relatives.

She was recently mentioned in a scandal where she is said to have influenced the employment of more than 10 of her relatives as Revenue clerks at the Busia County. If others are going to emerge with time, it remains to be seen.

According to insider sources, Nakitari has stayed in the cold for too long together with the masses on the ground and is now raring to go for the seat. “He has a powerful and forceful knack to relate with the electorate compared to Odanga who already has lost his base support across the constituency”, said Peter Magero a resident of Nasewa in Matayos.

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