alexa Homa Bay reels under weight of poll petition, wrangles - Daily Nation

Homa Bay reels under weight of poll petition, wrangles

Sunday February 3 2019

Cyprian Awiti

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti takes oath of office at Homa Bay High School in 2017. He is accused of poor leadership. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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If sleuths are not investigating cases of graft at the Homa Bay County, then probably the ward representatives are fighting over one thing or another.

The long absence of Governor Cyprian Awiti from the public has further compounded matters putting into jeopardy the running of the affairs of the county.

Many residents now believe the county is the worst performing in Nyanza and probably in the country. The leadership, however, maintains “things are going on well”.

According to the recent county governments’ budget implementation review report for the first quarter of the financial year 2018/19, alongside Kisumu, Siaya and Kisii, the county did not incur any expenditure on development.

The review by Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo shows Homa Bay County drifted in revenue collection, recording a decline of 7.3 percent.

LAWSUITS

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It generated Sh14.8 million in the first quarter of 2018/19 financial year compared to Sh15.96 million in the 2017/18 fiscal year.

Last week, a 21-member Assembly’s Roads Transport and Public Works Committee presented a damning report on discrepancies in the implementation of various road projects in the county under the roads maintenance fuel levy fund for the financial year 2017/18.

The committee chaired by Kanyaluo MCA Jeff Ongoro revealed that millions of shillings were paid for several road projects but the works “were either not done or implemented below the required standards”.

The numerous court cases facing both the executive and the legislative arm of the county government have also been cited as the biggest challenge in the devolved unit.

ELECTION

On Thursday, the Supreme Court is expected to deliver a judgement on the election petition of Governor Cyprian Awiti, a ruling that could shape or further destroy the troubled devolved unit.

The residents are anxious; they are eager to know the fate of the governor so that the county can move forward.

They are uneasy and have expressed concerns that the numerous court cases, including the petition, had halted efficient service delivery.

A state of confusion has marred the county in the last one year due to numerous court cases facing the governor, assembly, public service board and chief officers.

The governor has been battling to retain his seat after the High Court and the Court of Appeal last year nullified his August 8, 2017 election after successful petition by former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga.

The county assembly has also faced challenges that have ended up in court, where some MCAs were seeking to oust speaker Elizabeth Ayoo.

The assembly clerk Bob Kephas is also facing corruption charges while the public service board members and some chief officers are battling in court to keep their jobs.

DEVELOPMENT

Some MCAs, whom the ODM party has since recommended their expulsion from the party, were also mulling taking the legal route.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ agrees that the governor’s petition has had a negative effect on development and political stability in the county.

“While the rest of the nation moves ahead following the handshake, Homa Bay is still stuck in a political rut,” Mr Kajwang’ told the Sunday Nation on Saturday.

He explained that, “If the Supreme Court maintains the status quo, we shall work with the governor and his executive to ensure resources are used responsibly.”

The senator however confessed that a by-election on the other hand “will be a good opportunity for a reboot”.

Mr Martin Odie, a native of Karachuonyo, insists the county has “gone to the dogs”.

“It is only the Supreme Court that will shape the destiny of Homa Bay. We also urge the ODM leadership to sympathise with the locals and for once respect the people’s power,” Mr Odie said.

RETROGRESSION

Mr Samuel Owida from Kasipul says: “Homa Bay County is in ICU and needs an urgent resuscitation or else it is headed to the doldrums. No development is taking place. Sh2.5 billion of 2017/2018 set for development cannot be accounted for.”

“This is a county whose employees are blacklisted by banks and micro-finance institutions due to delay in remittance of loan deductions and other statutory obligations. It is high time it is either dissolved or suspended,” Mr Owida said.

With more than 10 months of absentee leadership, cartels have paralysed service delivery.

Mr Anderson Ojwang’, a former Karachuonyo parliamentary hopeful, argues that most hospitals in the county are in a deplorable condition as well as the county’s main hospital morgue.

“In Homa Bay, there is no respect for both the living and the dead.” Mr Ojwang’ says.

“The persistent delay in payment of salaries to staff is a serious issue that has demoralised them,” Mr Ojwang’ adds.

PANIC

An employee of the county government confirmed to the Sunday Nation that they received last Friday their December salaries.

“We don’t even know when the January pay will be effected,” the official who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal said.

Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo did not wish to be dragged into Homa Bay woes. “We leave it to God,” she said.

But Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata said there is no cause for alarm as everything is in control.

“The county is not at a standstill as some people may think. We are doing a lot of projects, including roads, water and even putting up toilets in markets,” Mr Orata told the Sunday Nation on Saturday.

He blamed delayed disbursement of funds from the national government for the slow initiation of projects

“The allocation from the national government is not coming on time, yet for meaningful development to occur resources must be available. Currently, there is no development money but we are working with the little we have,” the deputy governor said.

DISSOLVE

He went on: “The public doesn’t understand that we have not received funds. The little we have we have channelled to development activities. We have built toilets in markets and even bought drugs and supplied to our hospitals. We are working within the limits of available resources.”

The woes in Homa Bay are further catalysed by an ongoing process by a local lobby group collecting signatures to have it dissolved.

On Saturday, the group announced that they had so far collected more than 30,000 signatures after writing to President Uhuru Kenyatta last year calling for the dissolution of the devolved unit.

Members of Bunge la Wenye Nchi - led by Mr Walter Opiyo described the devolved unit as a failed government.

PROCEDURE

Mr Opiyo said they are targeting to collect more than 70,000 signatures.

Section 123 (1)(b) of the county government act gives any person the power to petition the President to suspend a devolved government in accordance with Article 192(1)(b) of the Constitution if the county government engages in actions that are deemed to be against the common needs and interests of the citizens of a county.

Homa Bay has 476,875 registered voters, hence the lobby group requires about 47,687 signatures.

For the president to suspend a devolved unit, a commission of inquiry must investigate allegations against the government and give a satisfying report on why it should not exist.