Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma has come under fire for skipping the County’s gubernatorial debate last Thursday.
Mr Ranguma has however, not given reasons for his absence during the debate despite confirming attendance.
Kisumu senator Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (ODM), Atieno Otieno (Jubilee Party), David Wayiera (Alternative Leadership Party of Kenya) and Peter Omollo (Amani National Congress) participated in the debate.
Kisumu residents including Mr Ranguma’s opponents and lobby groups accused the governor of avoiding accountability.
County communication officer Dennis Onyango on Sunday refused to comment on the matter.
Kisumu City Residents Voice chairman Audi Ogada, Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative (Team) Executive Director George Owuor, gubernatorial candidates Ms Otieno and Mr Wayiera censured the governor over his failure to participate in the debate.
“As a people, we delegated our powers to the governor on March 4, 2013 when we voted him in and without accountability he must know that we have the power to send him home on August 8, as he has proved to be opaque,” Mr Ogada said.
He went on: “In the past five years we have made attempts in vain to have an audience with him as he has even failed to organize a single state of the County address and it is quite unfortunate that he has now refused to tell us his scorecard in nationally televised debates.”
Mr Owuor lamented that the governor failed to take advantage of the opportunity to respond to numerous queries touching on accountability and governance in the County.
“I think he needs an adviser on devolution, political issues and citizen’s engagement and participation,” said the Team executive director.
He said Mr Ranguma’s absence from the debate could have far reaching consequences on his re-election “being that the middle class who watch such debates are capable of influencing voters to cast their votes otherwise.”
Ms Otieno of who participated in the live debate on KTN dubbed; Kivumbi 2017 accused Mr Ranguma of lacking answers and good account of devolved resources in the County.
“I feel that maybe he (Ranguma) could not account for the devolved resources over the past four years to his audience to warrant him request publicly for a second term,” she said.
Mr Wayiera said the Governor failed to demonstrate leadership by absconding the public debate.
“It was quite wrong to confirm attendance only to fail to show up in the last minute. The people of Kisumu need services and accountability and that forum provided an opportunity for the incumbent to show his scorecard and candidates to present their manifesto,” added Mr Wayiera.
Kisumu based Lawyer Edris Omondi said: “You can run but you cannot not hide. Ranguma absconded a national public debate, a social audit mechanism on advice from his cartels, that Kenyans forget very fast, Luo's don't forget, we demand accountability of his tenure for the last five years.”
Last Month, at a public debate organized by Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Mr Ranguma faced off with Prof Nyong’o where they clashed over underdevelopment of the County.
Corruption, poor service delivery and lack of proper structures to spur devolution marred the debate, with Prof Nyong’o stating that he will “jail those who have stolen public funds” if he becomes the Governor.