Hitherto, Homa Bay gubernatorial race remains one of the hottest contests – only second to Kiambu’s – pitting Gladys Wanga, Dr Evans Kidero, Oyugi Magwanga and John Mbadi, who has since thrown the towel.
Homa Bay’s contest still remains the fight of titans – and as I prefer it: Kenya’s Game of Thrones.
Being an open secret Wanga is ODM’s favourite to carry the gubernatorial flag, the question lingering ODM top brass is how to deal with Oyugi Magwanga to avert voter apathy in the August election.
Magwanga is hard to dislodge
Magwanga, for starters, is a hard nut to crack. He has an overwhelmingly attractive record of accomplishments as MP for the Kasipul Kabondo constituency from 2007 – 2017.
During his tenure, Magwanga, upgraded over 240 schools from semi-permanent to permanent by building classrooms. He is recorded as an MP who built the highest number of classrooms using CDF money.
He also introduced the tracking number system where students who applied for bursaries were given tracking numbers that ensured they follow up on their bursaries easily and efficiently. The tracking number also prevents double allocation of the bursary. He’s an ideal 21st-century socialist – vaguely, traditionally pro-people.
And when he contested Homa Bay County governorship to dethrone the incompetent Cyprian Awiti in 2017, the case only ended in the Supreme Court.
He comes from the tyrannical Karachuonyo. He’s adored and loved to death, and to date, the people believe he was robbed of his victory while the sun was shining.
This gives him an edge over little-known aspirants like Isaiah Ogwe who will struggle to defeat spoilt votes. Akello Misori, is struggling against the undecided voters. And for Kidero; he’s known more for his billions than policies.
This sets the stage for a battle between Wanga and Magwanga – but it’s a fight that Wanga will win, courtesy of the party machinery. But, why fight a losing battle when you can win without ever fighting in the first place?
Magwanga run as independent
There’re suggestions that Magwanga should run as an independent candidate. This proposal is championed by those who’re dissatisfied with the ODM’s choice of Wanga.
They include elements sympathizing with Mbadi, and indeed Ogwe and Akello Misori. They’ve, has whispers have it, promised Magwanga financial and moral support to tussle Wanga.
This option, however, is defeatist and it’s easier said than done. And that road had been travelled by Magwanga in the previous election, and it didn’t work. Once bitten, twice shy!
This may be a wider plan to bury the political dream of Magwanga even before it dies. If Tiacha wants to know his political end, he should look at its beginning. Worry about people who push you to face the lion while they shout behind you.
Truth is when campaigns for the August election shall take full shape, under the umbrella of Azimio and the reality of a possible Raila Presidency, the independent candidates shall face the wrath of an agitated crocodile, and they won’t survive the wave of the propaganda.
Magwanga to deputize Wanga
This is the most viable and realistic path that Magwanga should take before it’s too late. Mencius, a Chinese Confucian philosopher, said: “Men must decide on what they will not do, and then they are able to act with vigour in what they ought to do.”
Magwanga has nothing to lose, but all to gain as Wanga’s deputy. He will among other things, negotiate a few positions, projects, resources, among others for his people.
Additionally, he will, with taxpayers’ money, traverse the large Homa Bay county familiarizing himself with its geography, socio-politics and culture. As he will be carrying out his roles and responsibilities as the DG, Magwanga will also insert his popularity. These tools, he may use as he wishes beyond 2022. Half a loaf, practically, is better than none.
But, even more significantly, in the absence of the governor – as may be occasioned by busy schedules, incapacitation, death, and my all-time favourite – impeachment, Magwanga will be the governor. What a million ways to kill a snake!
In sum, the Magwanga I know is a fighter, but there’re some fights better lost, and shelved the shame of humiliating defeat to fight another day. And, in the wise counsel of Chinue Achebe in Arrow of God: “…it is praiseworthy to be brave and fearless, but sometimes it is better to be a coward. We often stand in the compound of a coward to point at the ruins where a brave man used to live.”