It is true that the entry of former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero into the Homa Bay county’s 2022 gubernatorial race has complicated things for former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga and Women MP Gladys Wanga, among others.

It appears that everybody is talking about Dr. Kidero’s money. In this new year alone, I’ve been to almost each of the eight sub-counties of Homa Bay, thanks to the nature of my work. In my tours, I’ve been to events where all the above-mentioned contenders were campaigning (or extending development projects and programs to the people, the way they often put it).

My honest observation is that Dr. Kidero has brought real panic on the part of Hon Magwanga and Hon Wanga, who hitherto Dr. Kidero’s entry appeared to be the front runners. As someone who studied body language in a non-verbal communication class, I’ve also noticed that Hon Wanga has lost weight – she is slowly losing her chubby cheeks. Maybe she is sick, aging, or just the panic. Hon Magwanga too is a bit different. My prayer is for God to grant them good health.

On the other hand, the electorate is excited. A lot of them, both educated and uneducated, opines that it is time for them to eat the candidates’ money. Particularly, jobless graduates seem to have reached out to the Kidero campaign for fatter handouts. Could be that they have finally joined the infamous sh327, sh527 or much ‘higher’ pecks squad, because ‘Kidero 4 Homa Bay Governor’ bloggers have steadily occupied social media spaces.

Some of these graduate bloggers are people I know because I too hail from Homa Bay. Initially, these were Magwanga foot-soldiers, both online and on the ground. Some of whom are now vouching for Magwanga to deputize Kidero. They say that despite his meager resources, Magwanga may end up wasting his money, again. That being Kidero’s running mate would give him power without having to sweat. “Wamekuja kumwaga pesa Homa Bay. It’s what goes into my pocket first that matters,” one of them, now with Kidero camp, unashamedly told me yesterday.

Well, Dr Kidero says his decision to abandon Nairobi for his home county’s politics is to cave a ‘Homa Bay Manyien’ (A new Homa Bay) by tapping its wealth of resources.

Like Kidero puts it, it is true that Homa Bay has a lot of untapped potential in the area of tourism, agriculture, and business that the outgoing administration of governor Cyprian Awiti has done very little to cultivate. For Homa Bay, it is not just Gendia – the origin of SDA in Kenya and the HIV invested fish business and the roan antelope of Ruma, there is history-rich Simbi Nyaima, the hot springs of Homa Hills, Tom Mboya Mausoleum, Rusinga Island, Atemo waterfalls, pineapples of Kochia, Sand and construction stones of Karachuonyo, bananas and the sweet potatoes of Kabondo and Kasipul. By the way, as early as 2013 sweet potatoes of Kabondo became a sumptuous Royal delicacy in the UK. Resources and facts that can truly enable the devolved unit to improve the lives of her people.

Homa Bay should not be a broke county, depending on the National government for survival.

I find no problem with Kidero wanting to tap these resources. He should be allowed to drive his message so that voters can make informed decisions come 2022. If he is the one to uplift Homa Bay from the mire where it is currently stuck, so be it.

Nonetheless, with strained resources, in my opinion, Magwanga is still loved by those who unsuccessfully voted him to become governor four years ago. A lot of them. He, therefore, remains to the Greatest of All Times (the GOAT). The man to beat, with or without the ODM party ticket. In 2017, he put a spirited fight to deny Awiti a second term. A struggle that approved Magwanga up to the court of Appeal. It is only the Supreme Court that denied voters of Homa Bay a re-run, after the lower courts established poll irregularities and illegalities.

The former Kasipul Kabondo legislator Magwanga, who was one time declared the best CDF spender, had campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. This endeared him to the people despite claims that he was less educated. He still maintains that voters should elect him because he is the cure of endemic corruption in the county. As he did to Awiti before him, Magwanga will most likely not spare Kidero when it comes to articulating his ‘corruption record’, maybe in Mumias or Nairobi or wherever it could be, as Kidero critiques have alleged.

On the other hand, outspoken Wanga is banking on her grassroots women mobilization skills through the ‘Abedo’ program to ascend to the top. Reportedly, her close proximity to Ida Odinga (wife to ODM boss Raila Odinga) could see her pushed down the people’s throats. In the ODM circles, it is believed that some politicians ascend to power because Mama Ida said they should be given positions. I cannot independently verify this claim though. Hon Wanga belongs to the Sons and Daughters of Mama Ida club – an elite political, business, and academic squad.

Hon Magwanga and Hon Wanga, and indeed any other contender, should not be forced to back Dr. Kidero. Just like Kidero, they should be allowed to sell their agenda. Voters need to make informed decisions. Importantly, the people of Homa Bay should not allow money to manipulate the vote. Educated residents should help the uneducated ones sift the chaff from the grain. Homa Bay is dragging behind yet it has some of the best brains in the world. It appears that South Nyanza county has the best contenders this time around.

Other aspirants include Senator Moses Kajwang, current County secretary Isaiah Ogwe, youthful businessman Jared Kiasa, KUPPET secretary-general Akello Misori and ex-CEC Carilus Ademba.

By Josiah Odanga

Multimedia journalist

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