Barasa, Khalwale gear up for a showdown for governor seat

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa and Senator Boni Khalwale chat during the funeral of ACK Bishop Beneath Salala. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

It is emerging that the 2027 Kakamega governorship contest is quickly narrowing down to Governor Fernandes Barasa and Senator Boni Khalwale.

As the showdown looms in the upcoming 2027 election, Barasa said he is ready to face Khalwale.

But the senator argues that the coming polls present him with an opportunity to unseat Barasa.

The two have had long-running differences on the issues of management, usage of county funds and running of the devolved unit.

Barasa has consistently termed Khalwale as a selfish leader, a non-performer with no track record to show to the people of Kakamega County.

He faults Khalwale for opposing the additional allocation of Sh22 billion as an equitable share from the national government where Kakamega lost an Sh1 billion that Barasa says would have uplifted lives in Kakamega.

However, Khalwale accuses Barasa of failing to take Kakamega to greater heights than where his predecessor Wycliffe Oparanya left.

Khalwale argues that he is the right person to run the county and actualise what the Kakamega people need.

Barasa is banking on the support of the nine ODM MPs and MCAs while Khalwale is hoping to bank on the support of Oparanya.

Speaking in Navakholo Constituency on Friday during the launch of the 10km road per ward project, Barasa termed Khalwale as a person who only knows how to antagonise other leaders.

He said the senator is not a leader who can bring development to people or even run one of the largest rural counties in the country.

“He(Khalwale) was an MP for Ikolomani for 10 years and he never brought any development, leave alone constructing a toilet for his people. It is through the current MP Benard Shinali that the people of Ikolomani are now seeing development,” said Barasa.

He added: “Khalwale is walking around making noise that he wants to be a governor. I want to tell him that come 2027 the formula is the same. I am going to defeat him so that I can continue with what I started.”

Barasa took issue with Khalwale stating that the senator had forgotten his role as a senator.

“Khalwale in 2013 abandoned his role of protecting and championing the interest of his county at the national level and started fighting our first governor Wycliffe Oparanya. In 2017, due to his poor working record he was defeated.

Last year Khalwale sponsored a bill that blocked counties from getting additional Sh22 billion, hence denying Kakamega Sh1 billion that would purchase drugs, upgrade our health system, and improve our roads network, the projects I am currently doing,” said Barasa.

Barasa said he will be re-elected for the second term based on the projects he is doing, construction of 10km of roads in the 60 wards, availability of drugs in all health facilities alongside upgrading their infrastructural aspects.

He also listed completion of stalled Bukhungu Stadium, expansion of the Kakamega airstrip to Kakamega airport, additional allocation of bursary from Sh2 million per ward to Sh4million and Sh20 million ward fund.

However, Senator Khalwale has maintained that he is the right person to lead Kakamega and complete all the stalled projects initiated by former governor Oparanya.

Last month, Khalwale visited and held a six-hour meeting with the Oparanya who is also an ODM Deputy Party leader at Mabole, Butere Constituency.

The new alliance between Khalwale and Oparanya has been interpreted to stir up alliance in ODM party, where the latter is a deputy party leader and Barasa being current Kakamega chairman.

Addressing journalists, Khalwale said he had come to seek the support of Oparanya to become governor in 2027.

He said they share the same vision with Oparanya and he is the best person to complete all the mega projects like Bukhungu International Stadium, Kakamega Level Six Referral Hospital and road network that was initiated by Oparanya.

"Two months ago I visited President William Ruto and announced to him that in 2027 I will be running for governor of Kakamega. I deliberately chose Oparanya for this important communication because he was our first governor," Khalwale stated.

"I have met the former governor of Kakamega without prejudice to anybody, be it the one who is currently in office or one who hopes to vie for the position of governor in Kakamega in 2027."

The two reaffirmed their commitment to unity and the resolution to put aside their disagreements to advance the development of the county.

Oparanya lauded Khalwale for holding his administration accountable during his 10-year tenure as governor where he delivered and achieved the best.

On Monday while in Ikolomani, Khalwale accused the governor of failing to upgrade and improve services in level 4 hospitals, despite receiving Sh928 million for health.