Omar’s UDA camp seeks to harvest big after Sonko defects
The Mombasa gubernatorial race is now touted as a fierce contest after former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko threw his weight behind United Democratic Alliance candidate Hassan Omar ahead of next week’s polls.
Sonko was a top contender, as per the opinion polls, before the Supreme Court suddenly halted his bid, but his support for Omar against the Orange Democratic Movement candidate and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir sparks another epic battle in the port city.
Political pundits believe Omar, a distinguished lawyer and human rights activist, who has cut his niche in Mombasa politics since he was a senator in 2013 to 2017, will reap big from Sonko support base.
The move has caused jitters among local politicians, especially those in ODM, while in the UDA camp it is all celebrations galore. Sonko has huge following from majority upcountry vote and his Kamba community.
Omar has hailed Sonko, who has won many hearts through his philanthropy, saying the former governor’s agenda resonates with that of Kenya Kwanza of uplifting the lives of the poor.
“Kenya Kwanza-Team Mombasa welcomes you to the winning team. Let us deliver a just and equitable Mombasa. Real change. Freedom is coming,” Omar said. Kamba community is the second largest voting bloc in Mombasa after Mijikenda with over 40,000 votes. There are about 641,913 registered voters in Mombasa as per the 2022 register.
Omar is also set to capture the Mijikenda voting block, after he picked Selina Maitha, a Mijikenda, as his running mate. Omar has pledged a Sh2 billion Biashara fund kitty to support grassroots economies and create jobs for the youth.
Sonko surprised those who did not expect him to shift his political allegiance to Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA.
Political analysts say despite the few days left to polls; they believe the political realignment may give ODM a run for their money as Sonko, who has a huge following in the upcountry vote basket, may shift the political landscape.
In his Facebook page, Sonko promised to deliver victory through Omar, who he said shared the same vision for the people of Mombasa.
“I have come to the realisation that I should work with a government that shares the same vision for my people as I and one that benefits them. It is not about Sonko now, I have to think about the people of Mombasa and their future,” Sonko said.
He went on: “ I will not be leaving my brother, Ali Mbogo behind, who has been put to suffering by those fighting me, and therefore from the positions offered I will also consider him.”
Nassir on the other hand believes that the people of Mombasa have already made their mind and nobody can convince them otherwise. The MP, who enjoys infrastructural support from Governor Hassan Joho believes he is the best suited to lead the county.
On Saturday, Nassir’s bid got a boost after Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu endorsed him alongside a section of the Kamba community.
Ngilu has called on members of the Kamba community to vote for Nassir as the next governor.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with the community at the Ronald Ngala Grounds recently, Ngilu termed Nassir as the best candidate for the job.
“I worked with your father for a very long time. I did not even think that his son would be an MP and governor. To you my people I would like to tell you to stick with him (Nassir), he is your best bet,” said Ngilu.
Ngilu met the community in what is seen as a calculated move to thwart Sonko’s support base.
Nassir has outlined, among others, his plans to spur the fast growing creative industry by ensuring a good thriving environment for players.
He has also pledged that his government will set aside a special fund to help start ups with capital.
He said giant companies and film producers will be brought on board to steer the agenda.
Other governor candidates include Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi, who has promised to deliver people oriented leadership that will result in desired development. His major focus is reviving the county’s economy by creating a conducive business environment.
Former Nyali MP and also governor Aspirant Awiti Bolo has warned his opponents to brace for a bruising battle in the August 9 elections.
Awiti has pledged to revive the region’s economy by creating a conducive environment for businesspeople.