Ugenya Constituency: New voter region could ease rivalry between Ugenya clans

Ugenya MP Stephen Ondiek and lawyer James Orengo are waiting with baited breath for the anticipated creation of 40 constituencies.

And they hope that Ugenya would be among those to be split.

With the split, the two, who are related through marriage, might find themselves in the same constituency.

The archbishop is Mr Orengo’s brother-in-law, having married the lawyer’s sister.

The two politicians have in the past represented the constituency at different times.

When Kenya Electoral Commission toured the area, residents recommended that the split be between Ukwala and Ugunja divisions with River Nzoia as the boundary.

This would leave the two locked up in Ukwala and a new crop of politicians in Ugunja. They will compete with Mr Stephen Okoth Mwanga, the Siaya District Kenya national Union of Teachers (Knut) branch executive secretary, Mr William Ohonde and former University of Nairobi student leader Peter Rang’inya.

Second proposal

A second proposal on the division of the constituency would be along the Kisumu-Busia road.

Others suggested that East Ugenya and North East Ugenya locations should be annexed to Ugunja with Saf stream which drains into river Nzoia as the boundary.

The latter two possibilities would see Mr Orengo and Archbishop Ondiek placed in different constituencies.

However, leaders from Ugunja Division are opposed to such a split, terming it an attempt by the people of Ukwala to extend their dominance of local politics.

They argue that the split along the existing divisional administrative boundaries would present them with an opportunity to send one of their own to Parliament.

Ugunja youth leader Dick Okello wants the River Nzoia option adopted so that Ugunja can break the dominance.

However, he says Archbishop Ondiek and Mr Orengo would remain the key figures in Ugunja. Mr Orengo enjoys support in Ugunja Division, especially at Uholo and parts of central Ugenya.

Archbishop Ondiek commands considerable support from the vast Ukwala Division, South Ugenya and parts of Uholo.

But the two relatives should brace for opposition from emerging youthful politicians such as Mr Mwanga and Mr Rang’inya.

Mr Mwanga has support from a Swiss NGO known as the Kenya Swiss Development.

He has been criss-crossing the constituency assisting individuals and organised groups.

Ukwala has produced all MPs in the area since independence and politicians from Ugunja seem determined to change the scenario.

Aspirants from Ukwala include Siaya county council chairman Daniel Owino Amoth, Ugunja businessman Peter Odero Rambula, retired bank worker William Oloch, educationist Paul Nyambala and insurance broker Maurice J. Okumu.

Mr Amoth, Mr Oloch and Mr Odero may have an upper hand due to their strong financial muscle.

If the new constituency is divided along River Nzoia, clan politics are expected to determine who represents the area.

Mr Amoth, Mr Okumu and Mr Oloch are members of the Jo Ugenya clan, with the former two from South Ugenya and the latter from Central while Mr Odero and Mr Nyambala hail from the Uholo clan.

Determine winner

It should be noted that even within the three Uholo locations, most people are from the Ugenya clans, notably Kager and Kanyamuot.

The Jo-Uholo may gang up to vote against Jo-Ugenya candidates arguing that prior to the split, they have always been led by Jo Ugenya from Ukwala.

The same may apply to Jo–Ugenya in South and Central Ugenya locations who may choose to bar Ja–Uholo from being their representative.

But either way, it will be a game of numbers and support from Mr Orengo or Archbishop Ondiek and their parties would determine the winner.

Ugunja residents accuse Archbishop Ondiek, the Legio Maria clergyman of spending a chunk of constituency development funds to develop Ukwala at the expense of their division.

Mr Nyatieng’ says the MP might have foreseen the split of the constituency hence “his decision to channel most of the funds to projects in Ukwala.”

“Why we are arguing that Archbishop Ondiek could still take the control of Ukwala is that he has developed Ukwala a lot, using CDF resources,” Mr Nyatieng’ argues.

But residents would be in for a bruising encounter should the archbishop and Mr Orengo find themselves in the same constituency.

Skewed allocation

“We cannot cheat ourselves, the two would still control one of the constituencies or both, depending on how the split is done,” adds Mr Nyatieng’.

While Archbishop Ondiek is being accused of skewed allocation of devolved funds under his care, Mr Orengo is blamed for under-development of the constituency when he was MP.

His opponents reckon he would be better off as an MP in urban centres because he has “no tangible development project to boast of in both divisions.”

But his supporters maintain that he is a national politician whose contribution to the country’s democratic process cannot be compared to the man of the cloth.

Mr Orengo was among leading politicians who fought for the Second Liberation that helped bring about political changes with the re-introduction of multi-partyism.

Archbishop Ondiek’s supporters defend him for building schools and health centres.

They dismiss claims that he had allocated more funds to one division, saying it is propaganda by his opponents.

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