Why Raila Odinga Must Step In And Defuse Tensions Between Busia’s Teso and Luhya Communities Over Governors’ Post

Hon Raila Odinga

The declaration by Mr Mogoria put into question a pact that was made between the two main communities who call Busia County home, the Teso and Luhyia. The pact was that this time around (2022) after Mr Ojamoong’s two terms as governor comes to an end, no individual from the Teso community will contest for the post of governor

By The Weekly Vision Online

Trouble looms for Azimio la Umoja architect and ODM party leader Raila Odinga in Busia County that may easily turn the massive support he enjoys among the residents here to turn against him unless he moves fast to defuse the situation. ODM is the only political party with a crowded number of aspirants for the gubernatorial contest compared to the other leading political parties, a situation that if not handled with care, may turn ugly once the nomination process is complete.

The situation was worsened last week when Busia County Chief Officer for Education and Vocational Training, Dan Mogoria declared that he will contest for the governor’s post on the ODM ticket.

The issue in Busia is muddied further by the fact that Hon Raila Odinga has so far failed to pick anyone to lead his Presidential campaigns as opposed to Kakamega County where for instance, he has COTU boss Francis Atwoli and outgoing Governor Wycliffe Oparanya

The declaration by Mr Mogoria put into question a pact that was made between the two main communities who call Busia County home, the Teso and Luhyia. The pact was that this time around (2022) after Mr Ojamoong’s two terms as governor comes to an end, no individual from the Teso community was to contest for the post of governor, and the Luhyia community would produce a candidate for governor. In essence, Mr Mogoria’s declaration and endorsement by the Chairman of the Teso Council of elders is a betrayal of that pact, which may have devastating consequences on Busia County’s future political landscape.

Hon. Paul Otwoma

The issue is muddied further by the fact that Hon Raila Odinga has so far failed to pick anyone to lead his Presidential campaigns in Busia County. In Kakamega County, for instance, he has COTU boss Francis Atwoli and outgoing Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. In Bungoma and Trans Nzoia Counties, he has CS Eugine Wamalwa, Esseli Simiyu, George Natembeya and Hon. Wafula Wamunyi. His opponent Ruto has made Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula, through their Bomas pact his point in the region.

The current Teso leaders where the chairman of the Community’s Cultural Union presides over the community affairs across the border into Uganda is led by P.S. Emolot, Teso North legislator Oku Kaunya, CEC Okwara Ekirapa, who all form part of the Teso Council of Elders. 

Dan Mogoria

The Luhyia Council of Elders leaders is led by former Labour Minister Phillip Masinde and retired Vice President Moody Awori, former cabinet ministers, Francis Masakhalia, Christine Mango, James Osogo and Prof. Julia Ojiambo. They were not consulted when Mr Mogoria made his declaration, at least in the usual Teso/Luhyia Council of Elders meetings to chart the way forward.

Residents, especially Luhyas are asking very pertinent questions as to why there seems to be greed for the governor’s post by the Teso elite. Their son has already served for two five year terms, is that not enough for now? The Azimio architect and leader Raila Odinga must intervene personally and not through Mama Ida to resolve that imbroglio, otherwise, this may cost him massive numbers of presidential votes. To the Luhya Community of Busia, it does not really matter whether the next governor hails from the Bakhayo, Marachi, Samia or Banyala, as long as he/she is Luhya.

As a matter of fact, former 2013 opponent against Ojaamong’ also from Teso South Constituency, now working with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Eng. Sidai kept off the 2017 general elections and is likely to stay away from contesting in this year’s 2022 general elections. The Tesos, just like their “Shemeji Luhyia’s” have a tendency of bloc voting and with the only self-declared candidate in Mr Mogoria, who has already tasted power as Governorship Ojamoong’s Chief Officer, and with the above-mentioned voting trends – the ODM leader has a big problem to on his hands to solve.

Another option may be that all the aspiring candidates from the Luhyia communities, irrespective of their political party affiliations, should throw their aspirations aside and back one of their own as a candidate. However, there is also the critical question of the presence of huge numbers of Ugandan Tesos registered as voters in the county; they can easily tip the scales in favour of a Teso candidate. The biggest problem is that the candidature of Mr Mogoria will surely polarise other communities unless he pulls out to seek an alternative elective office or wait for an appointment in the next county government. Otherwise, it will be unfair for one community to dominate the position without giving a chance to others.

Another burning issue is the ODM nomination processes that must be handled with care, the former ODM party Secretary General Ababu Namwamba and Dr Paul Otwoma were forced to quit the party in 2017. Dr Otwoma decided to run as an independent candidate in the last general elections; Ababu Namwamba supports Deputy President William Ruto. The crowded ODM governorship nomination ticket is led by former cabinet minister Dr Paul Otuoma who is massing his supporters to be elected the county’s next governor this time around, but above all Agwambo’s fifth stab at the presidency for the nation.

Other candidates, apart from Mogoria are, the current Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi from Marachi, Senator Wako from Bukhayo, Women Rep Mutua, and others to follow. Nambale constituency legislator John Bunyasi will contest on an ANC party ticket, Ruto party’s UDA or that of Cabinet Secretary’s Eugene Wamalwa DAP-K party that has signed a pact with Azimio, former Agricultural Financial Corporation (AFC) Chief Executive Lucas Meso among many others – most of them are from the Luhya community which may pose a major challenge.

The bottom line is the fact that the governor’s post is powerful, lucrative and influential to the extent that apart from enriching himself, Mr Ojaamong’ employed more people from his Teso community in the county government.

Ojaamong’s political career right from his first posting as a teacher at St. Mundika High School near Busia town was financed by Raila Odinga’s late father Jaramogi Odinga Oginga. Jaramogi financed his Secondary, High School and University education. His father, former Amogoro constituency legislator, the late Ojamaa Ojamoong’ was assassinated.

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