Debate after Governor Hassan Joho drops State House bid

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 00:00 | By
ODM party leader Raila Odinga (centre) with Mombasa Governor Ali Joho (right) and Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo during the Azimio La Umoja forum at Wild Waters Nyali in Mombasa county. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

The change of tune by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to drop his presidential ambition in favour of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)leader Raila Odinga has sparked a debate over his political future.

Joho, a long-term supporter of Raila, had earlier declared he will contest the presidency in next year’s General Election.

But at a meeting with Raila in Mombasa to champion his Azimio La Umoja campaign, Joho to the surprise of many, declared he was ready to drop his ambition in favour of his party leader.

“I’m ready to shelve my presidential ambitions. I do not fear doing that,” he said, adding that there was a reason the Coast have, over the years, rallied behind Raila.

“I strongly believe our only path, as Coast people, to the State House is through Raila,” he said.

Joho’s change of tune is said to have come after pressure from other ODM party leaders to support Raila, owing to his long political experience.

“We will be listened to in national politics if we have own presidential candidate because the coast is yearning for a presidential candidate. 

Joho’s withdrawal will paint us as  jokers to rest of the country, He should have remained on the ballot to test the waters and stamp his authority,” said former Kisauni MP Anania Mwaboza.

Mwaboza described Joho’s withdrawal as a huge political gamble owing to the fact that Raila has interest in the seat.

“They are thinking they will get absorbed in the government, but then what about the coastal people who have elected you (Joho) for more than 10 years?

I think they should focus on forming a coastal coalition to have a serious bargain in 2022,” said Mwaboza.

Joho is also said to have dropped his ambitions in order to consolidate the coastal vote and unite the region, banking to reap from Raila, should he win the 2022 presidency.

But according to Mwaboza, Joho should not bank on Raila when he becomes the president so that he can be absorbed in the government, instead he should mobilise the region and go for the seat with regional backing.

Governors of Taita Taveta Granton Samboja, Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu) are in support of Raila’s presidential bid.

Other coastal politicians who back Raila are Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, Senators Boy Issa Juma (Kwale), Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Jones Mwaruma (Taita).

Businessman-cum-politician Suleiman Shahbal is among politicians who have asked Joho to back Raila’s State House bid and wait for his turn in 2027.

Shahbal, a close ally of Joho, says Joho’s potential is not as much compared to Raila who has been presidential candidate four times.

“We know as a leader you (Raila) have the interests of the Coast people at heart. We have to support Raila and because we believe in him, we want him to support your (Joho’s) bid in 2027,” said Shahbal in reference to Joho’s presidential ambition.

Shahbal says the region should back Raila so that he should prioritise the implementation of the Coast region development agenda including ensuring that residents from each of the six Coast counties benefit from their resources.

“We need the people of Lamu to benefit from the port, the people of Kwale to enjoy the fruits of Shimoni Port, Kwale and Taita Taveta get the benefits of the minerals and Tana River and Kilifi benefit from the Galana Kulalu, ” said Shahbal.

He said the Coastal people do not want to be crying about the historical injustices anymore.

“We need to look forward; we need to look 10 to 20 years ahead. We need sustainable plans for our region, “he said, when he endorsed Raila for the 2022 presidency.

Joho will now be forced to wait and see if Raila forms the next government to be factored in his plans,as he will already have completed his second-term as governor.

His political future now solely depends on Raila’s fortunes. But Joho maintains he is not afraid to retire.

 ODM leaders at the coast declared that the region will be safe under the leadership of Odinga,as the president, where they tabled a host of demands to the ODM leader.

The leaders who spoke seemed not to recognise Joho’s ambition but would be heard praising Odinga.

Kilifi deputy governor Saburi,says Raila will be elected President in 2022. Saburi says coast will reap from Raila if he forms the next government.

“I’m, however, urging Raila to bring on board Coastal leaders. We do not want to continue being distant observers or followers, but participants in governance at national level,” said Samburi.

The declaration to support Raila now complicates the coast political matrix owing to confusion by aspiring leaders from different parties.

Deputy president is among those who have stamped authority in the region making inroads to harvest the region votes.

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