By FELIX OLICK @olickfelix
NO one can deny that Sam Wakiaga is a household name – where he comes from and farther afield. As literary icon Chinua Achebe would put it, even if you ask in his tiny Rusinga village on the shores of Lake Victoria or in the faraway city, they will tell you, “Sam is a man of the people”.
Over the years, he has been known as a businessman – including in the media. But unknown to many is the fact that Wakiaga worked for the National Intelligence Service, not as a spook, although he has a Master's degree in National Security Policy, but as head of Finance for close to two decades. He rose through the ranks from mere accountant to become Assistant Director in charge of Economic Affairs.
Despite holding a plum job in Nairobi and globetrotting, Wakiaga has traversed every corner of Homa Bay County. Philanthropy is his other calling: Wakiaga has helped disaster victims, up-and-coming musicians, fee-strapped students, widows, widowers and aided the construction of dozens of schools.
As Luo benga maestro Wally Jasuba sings, Wakiaga's development track record is unparalleled in Nyanza – and the people are pleading that he enter elective politics.
“I usually feel the urge to share with our people what God has given me. My joy is when I alleviate people’s misery and make them feel valued,” Wakiaga says of his philanthropy as we settle down for an interview in his Nairobi office.
For several years, there has been speculation that Wakiaga would run. In 2007, there was a strong push to have him take on Otieno Kajwang’, now deceased, for the Mbita parliamentary seat. That was not to be.
Wakiaga is now gunning for the Homa Bay gubernatorial position, a decision that has sent political shockwaves throiughout the competition.
“I believe my 28 years of experience in the civil service would be a good catch for my people . . . and the people themselves are the trigger of my candidature. They have felt that I can take them to the next level as Governor,” he says.
Wakiaga says there is no indication at all that Homa Bay county has received a staggering Sh24 billion since the advent of devolution in 2013.
“This sorry state of affairs is what I want to change. I have the experience, having handled much more than a county receives. But I left the NIS with clean hands. Not even a single scandal,” he proudly says.
“I gave my retirement notice in May. I opted to retire because we cannot leave Homa Bay county to continue as it is. People could be dead at the time I decide to go for the job,” he says.
man with heart for helping the poor and less fortunate
1960: Born into the Kaswaga Clan, Rusinga Ward
1970: Started formal education at Homa Bay Primary School, CPE 1976
1977: Wang’apala Boys’ High School O level class of 1980
1982: Kenya Polytechnic, Diploma in Accounts
1984: Travelled to India for a Bachelor’s degree in Accounts
1989: Public Service Commission, district accountant, Tana River district
1990: Transferred to the Office of the President, district accountant, Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI)
1995: DSI, head of Finance. He remained finance chief even when DSI was re-designated the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) in 2000 and eventually the National Intelligence Service in 2010.
2013: Australia National University, Master’s degree, National Security Policy
2016: “I have left a rich legacy at NIS. This is something that they can confirm to you. No scandal at all, no godfather. Just good work; competence. That is what has kept me.”
2010: “My greatest satisfaction has always been to assist those in need of my help, because I feel compelled by my conscience to give back to society.”