Tough call for independents braving ODM wave in Nyanza
Dozens of candidates running against the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) hopefuls in Nyanza are bracing themselves for tough final weeks before the elections as calls for a six-piece voting pattern intensify.
A number of candidates have gone against the grain in the region despite an aggressive campaign by Azimio- One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his lieutenants.
Raila and ODM chairman John Mbadi last week pitched for six-piece voting in the region, which is his stronghold, to the discomfort of aspirants from other Azimio affiliate parties.
Politicians braving the storm include former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who is battling for the Homa Bay governorship as an independent, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo is fighting for the Siaya governor’s slot under the United Democratic Movement (UDM), former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, former cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno, who is seeking to replace governor Zachary Obado in Migori on a Jubilee ticket and Fatuma Mohammed who is seeking the local Woman Rep seat as an independent.
Though they have been labelled rebels, the candidates have vowed to fight to the end.
Siaya Senator James Orengo who is running for the Siaya governorship on ODM against Gumbo has accused his rivals of disloyalty to the party’s cause and its leadership.
“There are those who have always pulled parallel to our course and we cannot entrust them with leadership in Nyanza,’’ said Orengo during Raila’s visit to the region.
During the trip, ODM national chairman John Mbadi pitched for the election of party candidates only to the chagrin of aspirants from wider Azimio family.
“For us in Nyanza, the die is cast. We have resolved to back ODM candidates only here and there is no turning back,’’ declared Mbadi.
But the other candidates have resisted the call. Fatuma who attended and addressed Azimio rallies where she was cheered by the crowds claims she was short-changed in favour of nominated MP Denittah Ghati during the ODM primaries.
“Although I was mauled in the legs by a snake, I am in Azimio to stay and fully back Baba (Raila), for President,’’ she told a rally in Nyatike.
While campaigning in Homa Bay and Migori counties Raila endorsed Senator Ochillo Ayacko and Woman Rep Gladys Wanga who are seeking the governorship of the two devolved units on ODM respectively.
But Wanga’s rival and former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero has vowed to face her at the ballot.
Kidero has castigated individuals propagating the six-piece voting clarion.
He pledged his administration will focus on growing various sectors in the county such as health, agriculture, education, water and industrialisation, with a view of creating job opportunities for residents.
“Voters are the sole decision makers. Let candidates be voted based on how well voters understand them,” he said. Kidero’s candidature got a major boost last week after a group of elders endorsed him to run for the seat.
The more than 160 elders drawn from Homa Bay Town constituency declared their support for Kidero.
Under the umbrella Nyada Ralek, the elders from all four wards in the constituency endorsed Kidero at Masakla village in Homa Bay Town Eastward. In the traditional ceremony led by Nyada Ralek chairman Arthur Opiyo, they offered their blessing to Kidero to vie for the governor position in the August polls. “With the powers conferred on us as elders, we bless Kidero to run for the governor seat,” said Opiyo.
Opiyo said the elders settled on Kidero as they were convinced that his leadership skills will transform the county.
He said they expect their endorsement to give direction for the constituency residents to follow.
Further, Opiyo said they believed that the endorsement will ensure their aspirants and wishes are achieved. “Elders are endowed with wisdom hence this decision will add value to our community,” he added.
Gumbo has protested against calls for him to step down as well as six-piece voting. The former Rarieda MP has asked the party leadership to let the people decide.
He decried the endorsement move by ODM leaders saying it was unfair to others, although they vowed to soldier on with their spirited campaigns to back Raila for President and fight for their own victory.
“We are still firmly in the race and will not bow down. We have crisscrossed the whole Siaya County and we believe that we have the critical mass, too, to win the governor's seat,’’ claimed Gumbo.