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Busia leaders clash over wish list ahead of Ruto's tour

Governor Paul Otuoma. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Busia county leaders have differed over a wish list to be presented to President William Ruto during his planned tour of the region later this week.

Governor Paul Otuoma and a section of lawmakers have disagreed on some of the demands including splitting the border county into two to pave way for the creation of Teso county.

Ruto is expected to launch Kocholia Medical Training College in Teso North which was funded by the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).  

Teso South MP Mary Emase (UDA) and Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah said they are excited about Ruto’s planned visit to the region.

“We also have resolved to support the creation of Teso county and lobby all leaders from Teso, Busia and nationally,” said Ms Emase.

“We are looking forward to hosting him in Teso region and we promise to support and work with his administration with a focus on promoting the development of the Iteso community,” she added.

Mr Omtatah said the president was welcome in Busia.

Governor Otuoma is opposed to the creation of Teso county, terming the proposal tribal. “What will happen if tribes living in Busia including Teso and Luhyas demand to have their own counties?” He posed.

He wondered whether the idea is being floated because he is the governor. 

“When Sospeter Ojaamong was the governor, no one was talking about the creation of another county,” said Dr Otuoma in reference to his predecessor who hails from Teso South.

Busia county voted overwhelmingly for Azimio leader Raila Odinga in the last election with ODM winning the governorship and five parliamentary seats out of seven namely; Budalang’i, Matayos, Butula, Funyula and Teso North.

UDA won Teso South constituency while Nambale went to an independent candidate. But despite Kenya Kwanza’s poor show in the elections in Busia, Ruto appointed former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwsmba as Sports Cabinet Secretary and UDA politician Susan Mang’eni as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Principal Secretary.

The differences already playing out could make it hard for the leaders to meet and agree on a wish list that will be presented to the president.

It remains to be seen whether local leaders will warm up to President Ruto like in Nyanza where leaders from Siaya, Homa Bay, and Kisumu counties accorded him a warm reception recently.