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I will shelve my presidential bid for Raila, says Oparanya

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 00:00 | By
ODM leader Raila Odinga with his deputy Wycliffe Oparanya during a past press briefing. Photo/PD/FILE

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) has said that he will not run for president next year if his party leader Raila Odinga will be in the race.

Oparanya, who has applied to be Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) candidate in the elections alongside Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, on Monday said he will opt for a different seat if the ODM leader runs.

“If my party leader stands, I would rather go for another post instead of opposing him because we have worked together since I joined the party in 2005,” said Oparanya. 

Speaking at TV talk show, he said he will shelve his presidential ambitions as it became apparently clear that Raila would be taking another stab at the presidency.

When he applied to be the party’s candidate, Oparanya, who is also ODM deputy party leader, had argued that he had supported Raila in the last three elections and that it was now time the former Prime Minister to return the favour. 

Restless governors

“I have supported him and campaigned for him since 2007 and I think it’s now time he supported me,” he said.

He used the analogy of a young man who has grown up and is ready to build his own home. 

“When a young man becomes an adult he asks his father to show him where he can build his home and bring up his family,” he said.

The “restlessness” showed by Oparanya in the last few months demonstrates the dilemma second-term governors find themselves in as their tenure comes to an end.

The Kakamega governor set tongues wagging in April when he held a meeting with Deputy President William Ruto.

He said that he had briefed his boss (Raila) about the meeting while Ruto later told a TV show that he had met Oparanya more than five times “because he is also impressed by the Hustler agenda.”

“When you want to be a national leader like who I aim to be in 2022, you must make friends with the right people,” Oparanya defended his meeting with Ruto.

Raila and Ruto are seen as the main contenders in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race. 

The High Court ruling that slammed brakes on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) three weeks ago has complicated matters further for the 21 governors serving final terms.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment)  Bill opened many avenues for second term governors by expanding the executive through the reintroduction of the position of prime minister and two deputies. 

Some of the second term governors who have declared presidential ambitions include Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni).

Others in the last lap are CoG chairman Martin Wambora (Embu), Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and James Ongwae (Kisii).

Ojaamong recently declared that he will be running for a parliamentary seat.

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