Funyula constituency-Samia North/South political divide at play ahead of 2022 poll

Funyula MP Hon. Wilberforce Mudenyo

Will Hon. Mudenyo withstand the Samia North-South political divide and win a second term?

By The Weekly Vision Online

The dominance of immediate former Vice President Moody Awori in the Funyula constituency political landscape for nearly three decades had previously virtually consigned new entrants into oblivion until Paul Otwoma emerged on the scene. The seat currently held by Hon. Wilberforce Mudenyo is one that over the electioneering years has been hotly and sometimes violently contested for, but in a way made history both at county and at the national level with Prof. Julia Ojiambo being the first woman elected legislator and assistant minister from the county.

On the other hand, Mr Awori who was once Prof. Ojiambo’s chief campaigner later dethroned her to become the county’s longest-serving legislator and assistant minister during the late retired president Daniel Arap Moi’s regime and also retired President Mwai Kibaki’s Vice-President after the death of the then Vice President Wamalwa Kijana who hailed from the neighbouring Trans Nzoia county.

Mr Eugene Masombo

Funyula constituency has over the decades been divided at the ballot between Samia North and South. The north has produced the late Habil Kanani, Arthur Ochwada, Prof. Ojiambo and former Vice President Moody Awori as MPs.   Hon Paul Otuoma a newcomer into the county politics from the South (Otuoma – in Luhyia means ‘knockdown’ or KO in boxing teams), knocked down the former vice president into retirement. Hon. Otuoma and the current MP Hon. Mudenyo both hail from Samia South. 

Hon. Otuoma was considered by many as a traitor for abandoning the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party where he held a top national office to reportedly pander to the interests of Deputy President William Ruto’s interests, yet the party calls the shots on the ground to date. He had also completely lost his political base, right from his home base in the South.

This time round Hon. Mudenyo the incumbent will be defending his seat in the coming polls on an ODM ticket, he is expected to face an uphill battle. The most critical question is whether the most populous north is willing to give him a second term in office after staying out of political power for more than three consecutive terms?

Hon Mudenyo has however been under fire of late from a section of political leaders in the county who have condemned him for opposing the construction of an airstrip in Nangina ward in his Funyula constituency where the residents want it located – the county does not have an airstrip

It must not be forgotten that Hon Mudenyo rode on the popularity of his support for sports at the grassroots in the last elections; his current efforts to boost infrastructure development in schools, as well as bursaries to needy students through the CDF, may just help him cross the line this time around. 

Hon Mudenyo has however been under fire of late from a section of political leaders in the county who have condemned him for opposing the construction of an airstrip in Nangina ward in his Funyula constituency where the residents want it located – the county does not have an airstrip. Busia County WR Florence Mutua and Mr Eugene Masombo termed the move by the MP to block the revamping of the airstrip as retrogressive. Mutua said it was surprising that one would refuse a major development project in his constituency while other MPs were yearning for it desperately.

Former Vice President Moody Awori with current MP Hon. Mudenyo

Mr Eugene Wandera Masombo is already lining up to wrestle the seat from Hon. Mudenyo. He lost to the current legislator in the last elections and is reportedly angling to contest on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket of DP Ruto. The biggest irony of Masombo’s candidature on that ticket is the fact that he has publicly and also on social media officially declared that he will be supporting the OMD leader Raila Odinga in his quest for the presidency on the ground instead of Ruto – a declaration that has left many asking questions as to why but getting no answers.

Another candidate is a newcomer, a young man called Oscar Juma whose argument is that as the country approaches the general elections in 2022, he wants to appeal to Kenyans that – “We should strive to make good judgments of what we want from our leaders and the kind of leaders that will make us grow this country to best levels of economic, social and physical growth.” It appears that Juma has not yet made up his mind on which political party he will use as a vehicle, the constituency is highly dominated by ODM supporters with ANC making in-roads while UDA has an uphill battle.

The most interesting development is the fact that at the moment there appears to be no woman candidate who is interested in contesting as MP, this is from a constituency that gave Busia County the first elected female legislator in the entire former western province. 

That the women who have shown interest like Suzan Mang’eni and Maureen Odhiambo are angling to take Hon Florance Mutua’s job, the County’s Women Rep, but not as constituency Members of Parliament. Mang’eni contested for the same job against Mutua at the last general elections through the Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) and lost. This time she has already declared her candidature on a UDA ticket for the same seat.

The other interesting development that has perhaps been conveniently forgotten is the fact that the former MP of the constituency Otuoma made it to the parliament on an ODM ticket, decamped from it to run for gubernatorial as an independent candidate but has since gone back to the same party to try and fight it out for the same seat on that same party’s ticket in 2022 – a party whose leader UDA’s Masombo is going to support for his 2022 presidential bid.

As the clock ticks irreversibly closer to that year’s general elections, what is clear is the fact that more candidates are expected to emerge on various political parties’ tickets. 

What is clear at the moment is the fact that the former chairman of the giant multi-billion shillings Afya Sacco the late Vitalis Peter Lukiri who had retired from a senior position in the public service, who hailed from Samia north was under pressure to contest for that seat but was very reluctant to bow to pressure. 

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