Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma’s decision to skip a governor’s debate gifted his four rivals.
Wasting no time, they took turns at discrediting his five-year administration.
The candidates — ODM’s Anyang’ Nyong’o, Jubilee’s Atieno Otieno, Peter Omollo of the Amani National Congress (ANC) and David Wayiera of the Alternative Leadership Party of Kenya — accused Mr Ranguma of failing to offer effective leadership.
Culture of violence
The governor had confirmed to attend the 120-minute debate at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu moderated by KTN’s Managing Editor Joe Ageyo but opted out at the eleventh hour, citing other engagements.
His four opponents for the governorship said that unlike other counties, Kisumu had not leveraged on the devolved structure of government to expand and grow.
But even as these candidates outlined their plans for the county, they differed over whether Kisumu’s development had been affected by a culture of political violence. Ms Otieno said Kisumu was not getting as many investors as it could because of a culture of violence associated with its youth. Otieno, a lawyer, said Kisumu needed to re-brand itself to shed-off its association with violence.
One way to do this is by “channeling the negative youthful energy into productivity,” said Otieno. But even though the aspirants agreed that unemployment contributes to violence, they disagreed on its impact on the economy of the city and county at large. Omollo and Nyong’o turned the heat on the Jubilee candidate, saying it was such talk that was painting Kisumu in bad light.
“Whereas it is true there are more demonstrations in Kisumu than in other parts of the country, most of them are usually peaceful and for valid reasons,” said Omollo.
“When we attribute lack of investment to violence, then in comparison there would be none in Central Kenya where Mungiki have been reigning terror.” Senator Nyong’o said the slow pace of development was largely as a result of poor governance and unemployment which inhibits growth and expansion.
“It is not easy to correlate unemployment or poverty to violence because I can sample counties that experience more vicious violence than Kisumu,” said Prof Nyong’o.
Wayiera, a banker, said the commercial sector could be channelled to generate investments, particularly when public-private partnerships are encouraged. “We need to create an enabling environment for investors, both local and foreign,” he said.
Waiyera, who describes himself as the jobs governor in his manifesto, also pledged to revive collapsed industries and bring in new ones as this would create up to 10,000 new direct jobs and 150,000 others indirectly.
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“What I want to do is put more money in the pockets of wananchi by providing them with more opportunities,” he said. Nyong’o pledged to audit of Ranguma’s government to recover “stolen resources” and prosecute those found to have plundered public money.