Sunday, 8 February 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015 A tale of two bosses in one town, Jack Ranguma and Ruth Odinga

Members of the Kisumu County Assembly bow their heads for prayers during the opening of the assembly in February of 2014. 
Members of the Kisumu County Assembly bow their heads for prayers during the opening of the assembly in February of 2014. FILE PHOTO | JACOB OWITI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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In Summary

  • The fights are brought about by disagreements between county boss and his deputy.
  • The deputy governor accuses her boss over alleged misuse of funds and recent sackings of ministers.
Is the forced political marriage between Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma and his Deputy Ruth Odinga no longer tenable?
This is the question many residents of the lake-side town are asking after a series of public spats between the two over the management of county affairs.
The latest is a split over a Sh5 million bonding retreat for MCAs that ended last week where Ms Odinga felt it was an unnecessarily and expensive venture.
So bad is the situation that the government is divided midstream with supporters of the two camps going for each other’s jugular in public. The county assembly has become a battlefield for the two camps.
Mr Ranguma acknowledges this division. “We have experienced challenges especially when executives steer the wheel away from the vision that inspired my election as governor,” he says.
The situation is such that some MCAs are backing the governor, while others are allied to Ms Odinga.
Mr Aggrey Ogosi, East Seme MCA, said skewed appointments similar to those bedevilling the national government need to be solved in Kisumu.
“It is in the public domain that the balance of jobs in the county is wanting; this is the root cause of the poor service delivery,” said Mr Ogosi.
Nyalenda MCA, Jackton Onunga, regretted the matter was already taking its toll on some sectors like tourism.
A recent reshuffle by Mr Ranguma is believed to have been as a result of his attempt to solidify his foothold in the devolved unit.
Vincent Kodera and Prof Barrack Abonyo who headed the ministries of roads, infrastructure and public works and energy, and natural resources respectively, Dr Stephen Orot (agriculture), Rhoda Obadha (the environment) and Omulo Okal (finance) were shown the door in what the governor said was ‘non-performance’. The five are said to have been aligned to Ms Odinga’s camp.
The shambolic ODM primaries in January 2013 brought about the troubled union after the party leadership gave Mr Ranguma and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s sister the joint ticket.
Ms Odinga had been one of the strong contenders for the ticket before stepping down in the face of public pressure that the Odinga family was seeking to entrench a political dynasty across the country with her brother then running for presidency.
“I decided to step down for the sake of peace and sanity in Kisumu following yesterday (Sunday) protests that would put the Odinga family in bad light,” she had said after throwing in the towel.
Observers say Mr Ranguma has all along been jittery that Ms Odinga is a shadow of her brother and was specifically planted there to checkmate him, an assertion Ms Odinga has denied in the past although the fear is real in the Ranguma camp.
Another catalyst to the situation has been an accusation by the governor’s allies that people from Siaya (an indirect reference to Ms Odinga-led faction) were meddling in the affairs of the county.
Governor Ranguma says the ‘painful’ decision to drop the five was arrived at following feedback that the executives performed poorly in the last two years they have been in office.
Politics has slowed down implementation of projects as well as passage of laws owing to the infighting in the assembly, arbitrary sackings and appointments by governor Ranguma.
But Ms Odinga, who is seen to be angling for the governors’ seat, said the notion that she was staging a political warfare in the county is misleading.
She told the Sunday Nation that her interest is to see services reach the people in line with the spirit of devolution.

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