The political future of former Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion hangs in the balance following his humiliating loss in the United Democratic Alliance primaries last week.
The veteran trade unionist has lost two major battles in the last 10 months and will need to summon all his spirits to rescue his political career.
Mr Sossion lost his cool and hurled insults at the UDA leadership after he came a distant third in the Bomet senatorial primary polls last Friday. Mr Hillary Sigei, his former student, won with 77,500 votes, while Senator Christopher Langat was second with 65,006. Mr Sossion got 45,371 votes.
The loss came almost a year after he was forced out of Knut leadership, having lost the backing of branch officials. Membership had dropped from 187,000 to 15,000 and dues from Sh147 million a month to Sh12 million.
“UDA officials are crooks out to install their henchmen and business partners into leadership positions so as to facilitate looting of government resources at the national and county governments,” Mr Sossion said St Bhakita hall in Bomet town, which was the UDA tallying centre.
“If the malpractices are allowed to pass, it means that the National Election Board (NEB) and the party leadership would literally be capsizing the ship ahead of the August 9 elections,” he added.
He claimed that a box full of ballot papers disappeared from a tallying centre after an artificial power black-out. He also alleged that there were many pre-marked ballot papers that were ferried to polling stations.
“We won’t accept the results. I’ll be on the ballot as an independent candidate,” said Mr Sossion in the company of Dr Lang’at, who also disputed the results.
Mr Sigei was a student at Tenwek Boys High School, where Mr Sossion was a teacher, and later became the nominated MP’s lawyer. He continues to represent him in various court cases.
Mr Sossian joined UDA late last year and was received by Deputy President William Ruto in a meeting at his Karen residence. Prior to that, he had been a critic of the DP and a loyal member of the Orange Democratic Movement, which nominated him to Parliament. He was a key supporter of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in the South Rift.
Mr Sossion travelled around the country with Dr Ruto even as he campaigned for his senatorial bid in Bomet County. He praised the bottom-up economic model, which seeks to create job opportunities for the youth.
But that is now water under the bridge as Mr Sossion has turned his guns on the DP and UDA for the alleged “rigged primaries”. Analysts say he lost due to his failure to rally teachers behind him as he kept fighting with Knut leaders.
Knut national vice-chairman Stanley Mutai, Bomet executive secretary Malel Langat, his Sotik counterpart Mathias Langat, assistant secretary Paul Sang and treasurer Peter Rono led campaigns against Mr Sossion.
“We are here to offer our support to Mr Sigei, who is our lawyer. We have confidence in his leadership and we are urging the people of Bomet to nominate him in the party primaries and vote for him in the August 9 general election,” said Mr Mutai when Mr Sigei launched his campaigns.
The endorsement was a major blow to Mr Sossion’s bid.
“We are aware that one of us (Mr Sossion) is also seeking the UDA ticket, but he does not have our support due to the cantankerous nature of his leadership. He continues to fight us yet he is no longer a union member,” said Mr Mutai.
Mr Sossion seemingly underrated the Knut officials’ influence in the primaries. His problems began when he was nominated to Parliament under a special consideration to represent trade unions. Soon after, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) deregistered him.
It was the beginning of a series of many fights, altercations and court battles with TSC and the Ministry of Education. The confrontations led to the drop in union members in what TSC called “digital validation of membership”. Earnings from contributors drastically fell and the union was on the verge of collapse at the time of his exit in June last year.
His successor, Mr Collins Oyuu, has done quite well to steady the ship. Knut membership has in less than a year risen to over 100,000. Before his exit, Mr Sossion fell out with former Secretary-General David Osiany and former national chairman Mudzo Nzili.
It remains to be seen the amount of energy he will channel to the campaigns as an independent candidate for the Senate.