Focus shifts to Kakamega for high-stakes governor contest
Residents of Kakamega County troop back to the polling stations next Tuesday, this time to elect their new governor in another round of battles between Azimio One-Kenya Alliance and the Kenya Kwanza coalition.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah of Kenya Kwanza is fighting to succeed Governor Wycliffe Oparanya but faces a tough opponent in Fernandes Barasa who is the Azimio candidate.
Buoyed by the victory of Deputy President William Ruto, the Kenya Kwanza brigade led by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi are out to prove their mettle in the county.
But the Azimio team led by Oparanya have vowed to stamp their authority in the county regarded as the bedrock of Luhya politics. Leaders from the various political divides were yesterday exuding confidence of victory.
Those allied to Kenya Kwanza called on the residents to vote for Malalah “so as to be in the new government”.
“We have been in opposition for a very long time and this has had adverse negative effects to our county and other parts of the Western region,” said Shinyalu MP-elect Fred Ikana.
“The wisest decision is to elect Malalah as our next governor because he is part of the new administration and can easily influence development to our county,” he added.
But Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali disagreed saying there were no favours expected from the national government as devolution was anchored in law.
Shinali urged the residents to support Barasa because of his vast experience in public affairs.
“Governor Oparanya has performed very well yet he was not part of the Jubilee administration. Our allocations as a county are guaranteed and do not require one to be in the national government of the day. Counties operate independently,” he said.
Shinali, who was initially in Jubilee but retained his seat on the ODM ticket, said they were behind Barasa because of his capacity to prudently manage devolution funds that will be received from the Exchequer.
“Malalah should be telling us how he will manage the more than billions of shillings that our county will receive, how he will equip our medical facilities, bring us clean water, etc. and not get carried away with Ruto’s win,” said the legislator.
The sentiments were echoed by Khwisero MP Christopher Aseka who said they would ensure the Azimio candidate clinched the seat.
“We have done very well in the past ten years and we do not want disturbance. We want a manager who can leverage on the gains recorded by Oparanya and even improve further,” he said.
Apart from the DP’s victory in the race for State House, Malalah appears a lame-duck at the county level as he only enjoys the express backing of Ikana.
Senator-elect Boni Khalwale continues to blow hot and cold and has not been with Malalah in public since the August 9 polls.
Of the 12 constituencies in Kakamega, Azimio clinched 10, alongside the Women Representative’s seat.
The Raila Odinga-led outfit also won 45 out of 60 wards. Barasa has preferred to take a low profile since the General Election arguing that the official campaign period was over. But Malalah has openly been campaigning, albeit on his own.