Elders beseech Marende to pull out in favour of Governor Ottichilo
The Bunyore council of elders is facing an uphill task of convincing former Speaker of the National Assembly, Kennedy Marende (right), to pull out of the Vihiga governorship race to increase Governor Wilber Ottichilo’s chances of retaining the seat.
Marende’s entry in the contest has complicated matters after the elders had settled on Ottichilo. The council’s secretary general, Patrick Ongaya, says Marende’s candidature might divide the Bunyore vote.
Marende has declared he will vie for the seat under the Democratic Alliance Party of Kenya (DAP-K) ticket while Ottichilo will defend the seat on an Orange Democratic Movement ticket. Both ODM and DAP-K are in Azimio la Umoja coalition that supports Raila Odinga’s presidential bid.
Ottichilo and Marende are facing serious competition from Senator George Khaniri, who comes from the Tiriki community; Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi; Moses Akaranga; and Federal Party of Kenya (FPK leader Francis Ominde.
“We must talk to the former Speaker of the National Assembly, Marende, to shelve his ambitions and pave the way for Governor Ottichilo. If the two go to the ballot, we are likely to divide our votes and lose,” said Ongaya. He added that DAP-K should field Marende as their Nairobi governorship candidate, going by his popularity across the country.
“ Marende can do better in city politics because he is a national leader,” said Ongaya. During the burial of his mother last month, the former Speaker spoke about his friendship with Ottichilo since the days they were at Kagumo High School together. Ottichilo feels that the entry of Marende in the race is a scheme to divide Bunyore votes. “We have some people who have declared to vie for the seat with the aim of dividing our Bunyore votes,” he said.
The county is dominated by Maragoli clan, followed by Bunyore who inhabit Luanda and Emuhaya constituencies, while the Tiriki are mainly in Hamisi. The Maragoli occupy Sabatia and Vihiga constituencies.
Last December, Bunyore elders endorsed Governor Ottichilo and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi to contest the Vihiga gubernatorial and senatorial seats, respectively.
Former Governor Moses Akaranga, who is seeking a comeback, has said Maragoli ancestors are bitter with the community for losing the seat to Ottichillo.
Akaranga, while addressing his supporters yesterday, said it is time for leaders from Maragoli community to unite and reclaim the post.
“Our ancestors are not happy with us for losing the governor seat. We have let someone else sit in our leadership shrines,” said Akaranga.
He asked Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi to shelve his ambitions for the post and support him. The former governor said recent opinion polls showed he was leading, followed by Ottichilo, Khaniri and Agoi.