Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba faces a tough battle to retain his seat in the August 8 General Election.
He is set to lock horns with five other candidates in the polls, including former MP Raphael Wanjala, who hopes to capitalise on Mr Namwamba’s decision to decamp from ODM — the party that sponsored him to Parliament — to the Labour Party of Kenya.
Other candidates cleared by the electoral commission are Andrew Nakitare (Independent), Mediatrix Wangira (Jubilee), Deogratious Adundo (Ford-Kenya) and David Vincent Obara (Independent).
Despite ditching ODM, Mr Namwamba still remains the man to beat.
Budalang’i has 38,000 voters, according to the electoral commission.
Fish farming and rice production are the main economic activities in the Lake region.
Mr Namwamba is riding on his development record and Jubilee’s projects for his re-election in a region that remains a stronghold of the opposition.
The Budalang’i lawmaker, in an interview with the Daily Nation, expressed confidence of easily trouncing his rivals and retaining the seat.
But many believe that outside ODM, the legislator will find the going tough.
His biggest challenge, they believe, is the Luo vote, which holds considerable sway in the constituency.
“My development record speaks for itself,” he says. Among the projects, he was pegging his re-election on was the Sh1.2 billion Sigiri bridge.
The bridge, being constructed by Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company, however, mysteriously collapsed a fortnight after President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the region to check on it.
During Mr Kenyatta’s tour, Mr Namwamba said the bridge was a blessing to residents since it would significantly reduce deaths and make it easier for people to access markets, schools and hospitals on either side.
Following its collapse, Mr Namwamba said President Uhuru Kenyatta had assured him of the government commitment to ensuring that the bridge is completed.
Other projects include the setting up of the first ever public teachers training college (TTC) in the border town, as well as Mundere Campus, a constituent college of Masinde Muliro University.
Mr Namwamba further says he has worked closely with the national government and donor agencies such as the World Bank, who have pumped in millions of shillings to help contain the perennial flooding.
According to him, the flood water that was once described as a major curse to residents is now being put to good use.
“The water is currently being used to irrigate about 2,000 acres of paddy rice at Bunyala Irrigation scheme,” he says.
“We have invested huge sums of cash, over the past six years in strengthening the Southern and Northern dykes. The two dykes are in a better state and they are being designed to make them permanent,” he said.
Other achievements, he says, include improved security, healthy, and tarmacking of various roads including Port Vitoria-Bukoma beach Marenga beach to Ruambua.
Mr Wanjala, on the other hand, claims he initiated most of the projects Mr Namwamba is taking credit for, allegations the legislator denies.
“Mr Namwamba has been going around the constituency lying to residents that he has developed Budalang’i yet most of the projects, including the Bumala-Port Victoria road, were initiated when I was the area MP,” he says.
The former MP, who decamped from Jubilee, says he was defeated in the polls on two occasions because of his choice of party.
“I will beat Namwamba at the ballot and become the next MP,” he said, adding that his opponent won the seat twice because ODM has a massive following in the constituency.
The party has launched a massive campaign in the four wards, namely Bunyala Central, Bunyala South, Bunyala West and Bunyala North to ensure their man gets the seat.
Led by Busia County Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, the leaders have declared they will tirelessly campaign for the ODM candidate to ensure he emerges victorious, adding that a win by Wanjala will be a befitting gift to the Nasa presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga.
“We will use all resources available and offer the necessary support to ensure the ODM candidate clinches the seat,” said the governor.
Mr Namwamba has hosted various Jubilee leaders in the region for the past month to drum up support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.