Oparanya bypasses his deputy, leaves county under executive

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) with his deputy Prof Philip Kutima in a past event.
[Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has handed the running of county affairs to a county executive, bypassing his long-term deputy Professor Philip Kutima.

In an internal memo to county staff, Mr Oparanya said he will be away from the office for a week and relinquished his role to the Public Service Executive, Rachel Okumu.

The second-term governor further directed the county employees to "co-operate with the executive" as he accompanied former premier Raila Odinga to the US trip.

Mr Oparanya and Mr Kutima have been working together for the last nine years and whenever Mr Oparanya was away, Mr Kutima would seamlessly take over, but not anymore.

The camaraderie between the two started to fade away after Mr Kutima decamped from ODM to DAP-K a few months ago stating he was short-changed by the ODM leadership in the county.

Mr Kutima claimed his boss was supporting former Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) boss Fernandes Baraza as an ODM Kakamega gubernatorial candidate at his expense.

However, one source from Mr Oparanya’s cabinet told The Standard on Sunday that the move by the governor came after Mr Kutima failed to report to work for several months without apology despite getting a salary.

“How will you leave the county operations in the hands of an insubordinate person who does not attend cabinet meetings even after the county secretary has notified him?” said the source.

However, political analyst Dr. Barrack Muluka has said the move by Governor Oparanya to leave the county in the hands of one his CEC was illegal.

“He has no mandate to do that because the law is clear; after the governor, it is deputy governor. In case both of them are absent, the mantle goes to the speaker, that is a creation that is not in our constitution,” said Dr Muluka.

Politically, the analyst said Mr Oparanya had already discarded his deputy after he helped him ascend to power.

“When he wanted his votes he was a good man, now he is a bad man and he doesn’t want him. That is the use-and-dump attitude that needs to be tamed in our country right from the presidency downwards,” he said.

Dr Muluka added that the move by Mr Oparanya signaled that he no longer wants his deputy and they have nothing to share with him.

“Kutima is now dancing the tune of DAP-K, meaning he knows he was already discarded, and that the governor has someone else to succeed him and not his deputy,” he noted.

Tension between the two started after Mr Kutima was removed as Kakamega County ODM Chairperson last year and his position was taken by Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito.

However, Mr Kutima claimed the move was a wide scheme to dislodge him from succeeding his boss as next governor under The ODM party vehicle, even after Mr Oparanya was seen severally endorsing Kutima as his successor publicly.

Last month, the deputy governor when campaigning in Kakamega and Malava, said he decamped from ODM to DAP-K despite being a deputy governor for the last ten years.

The move by Mr Kutima saw close allies of Oparanya and ODM county leadership come out blazing, demanding for his resignation.

However, he dismissed such calls stating that Oparanya should address him directly and not through his allies.

Kutima was to vie for Kakamega gubernatorial contest under DAP-K until last week when he stepped down in favor of Lugari MP Ayub Savula who is also a deputy party of DAP-K, however he later on announced that he will vie for the top seat on an independent ticket.