Governor Mike Sonko’s fiercest critic, Peter Imwatok, started out collecting used oil from garages in Kisumu.
Sonko and the Minority Whip from ODM have been engaged in a war of words that shows no signs of letting up. Imwatok, who is serving his second term as Makongeni MCA, has styled himself as the voice of the opposition.
He has taken on the governor for his “chaotic leadership style and the mess” in the county government. Sonko has claimed the MCA is part of a cartel that holding the county hostage.
Imwatok, 35, was born in Teso, Busia county. He said his family was poor.
“I am where I am today because of God and the good people of Makongeni. I have never stolen anything. I started working as a businessman collecting used oil from garages in Kisumu to Eldoret for disposal,” Imwatok, a father of two, said.
He first ran for the Makongeni councillor seat in 2007, but lost to George Aladwa, now the Makadara MP. Imwatok is president of the County Assembly Sports Association. Despite his criticism of Sonko and his administration, he said he has nothing personal against the city boss and has only been speaking the truth.
“In my speeches and all the things I have said, I have never abused governor Mike Sonko. But I have been saying what I think is not right,” he said. The ward representative has called Sonko an “absentee governor who runs the county via Facebook and his rural home in Machakos”.
“The governor himself is never present. He is on Facebook and WhatsApp. Where does he report to? He is paid with taxpayers’ money to the tune of Sh600,000 plus allowances and a fleet of cars and a contingent of security officers,” he said.
Imwatok also accused the governor of dragging his feet in appoining a deputy governor and has threatened to sue to compel Sonkos to fill the position. The seat was left vacant when Polycarp Igathe resigned in January.
Imwatok has also blamed Sonko for the confusion that marred the disbursement of bursaries when more than Sh250 million meant for needy children was erroneously deposited in a Maryland University account in the US. This came just days after Sonko accused him of irregularly spending bursary funds in the ward. He denied the claims.
During an interview with Milele FM last week, Sonko attacked Imwatok for questioning the source of his wealth. He accused the MCA of pocketing Sh7.2 million meant for the fencing of Majimbo Grounds in his ward.
Imwatok said he neither knew the contractor nor had an interest in the tender.In March, he sued Sonko over the “irregular” award of a Sh1.7 billion health insurance cover for county staff to AAR Insurance Kenya.
He wanted the court to allow an audit of the books of AAR and Bliss GVS Healthcare Limited for the financial years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18. He lost the case.