Outgoing county chiefs bet future on Raila, Ruto bid
Twenty one second-term governors have staked their political future careers on either Deputy President William Ruto or ODM party leader Raila Odinga ascendancy to State House.
Facing the prospects of being sent to political oblivion after the 2022 General Elections and the collapsed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that had proposed an expanded Executive, the county chiefs have aligned themselves with the two arch rivals set to face off in the contest.
In a bid to stay within the circles of power, some of them have declared interest in the presidency, probably to raise their stakes while others have kept off the debate as many more brood over their options.
Others are already forging new partnerships and alliances, toying and angling for plum state appointments should either of the two ascend to the presidency.
Governors Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) have declared their intention to succeed President Uhuru.
At least 15 governors including two ODM deputy party leaders Ali Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya are supporting Raila fifth stab at the presidency.
Governors Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Martin Wambora (Embu), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), James Ongwae (Kisii), Okoth Obado (Migori), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) have also thrown their weight behind the Raila campaign.
“After the Azimio la Umoja declaration that Raila Odinga is going to contest for the 2022 presidential elections. I would like to assure Kenyans we have the will, belief, energy and capability of ensuring Raila occupies the top seat, come August 9,” Joho told People Daily on Tuesday.
“The journey for the third liberation, the economic liberation has started,” Oparanya said of the Azimio la Umoja National Convention at Kasarani Stadium last Friday.
On Friday, Raila, launched the Azimio la Umoja movement as a political vehicle he will use in his 2022 State House bid.
Apart from Joho and Oparanya, governors Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), James Ongwae (Kisii), and Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) are among the leaders pulling strings in the Nyanza and Western region for the ODM chief’s presidential bid.
“It’s official, Raila Odinga will be the Fifth President of the Republic of Kenya. Raila Odinga is Kenya’s hope and future. I will join other like-minded leaders to campaign for Raila Odinga’s 2022 Presidential candidacy,” Governor Ojaamong told People Daily.
According to Ojaamong, the former premier has toiled longer in the vineyards, for a better Kenya and qualifies to be President.
On the other hand, Governor Ongwae, a former Raila chief campaigner in the run-up to the 2013 elections is part of the team playing a role in Raila’s presidential bid.
Ongwae has been Raila’s pointman in Kisii and is among the leaders expected to play an important role beyond the 2022 General Elections should Raila clinch the presidency.
The governor has in recent days intensified his efforts to strengthen the grassroots network for the ODM chief in the Gusii region.
Ruto on the other hand, has the backing of six-county chiefs, generally from his Rift Valley backyard.
They include Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Moses Lenokulal (Samburu), Jackson Mandago (Uasin-Gishu), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Okoth Obado (Migori), and Salim Mvurya (Kwale).
ANC party boss Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula are not supported by any governor yet.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba, alongside Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali who have jointly acquired United Democratic Movement (UDM) Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Samuel Tunai (Narok) political inclinations remain unclear.
“We have not made any decision to back anyone, we are still consulting and organizing ourselves as UDM,” Governor Roba, told People Daily on Tuesday.
“We want first to crystalise our issues, before engaging anyone, but in due course, we will form a committee that will engage with various presidential aspirants, so that we find the candidate who has the best interest for us,” Roba, who doubles up as the UDM Party Leader added.
Kilifi governor Amason Kingi, who is the latest entrant to endorse Raila’s 2022 State House bid, has pledged that his Pamoja African Alliance Party (PAA) will support the former premier for president in the 2022 General Election, but it will field candidates in other races.
“PAA will not field a presidential candidate in 2022 but will back Odinga,” Kingi said at a political gathering in Malindi on Saturday.
Azimio la Umoja Convention
PAA is among the political parties that now support Odinga and last Friday attended the Azimio la Umoja Convention at Kasarani, Nairobi, where the ODM leader launched his bid for the top seat.
Governor Kingi, who ditched the ODM five months ago, has promised to use his resources to campaign for Raila, his long-term friend, to clinch the presidency.
Kingi’s move has brought to end speculation that he was set to join One Kenya Alliance (OKA) or DP Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) with his newly formed Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) party.
Elgeyo Marakwet governor Alex Tolgos, who is among only the second-term governor from DP Ruto’s Rift Valley’s political bedrock says the 2022 presidential race will be a two-horse race.
“It is now clear that race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta is between ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto. The other forces including One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals will have to decide to either to join DP Ruto or Baba,” Governor Tolgos told People Daily on Friday at the sidelines of the Azimio la Umoja launch.
“ I am not looking for any political seat but my main agenda is to campaign and support Baba’s Presidential bid. I am ready to sacrifice any ambition to make sure Raila ascends to the top seat,” he added.
Governor Nanok, while downplaying Raila’s declaration, said Raila’s handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta did not benefit blocs such as Turkana.
He said Turkana leaders and residents “are changing their political matrix” and will join UDA.
“Ruto has made me his presidential campaign manager because of the trust he has in me and my community. We will be closer to power and our issues will be addressed easily,” he said.
In the same camp as Governor Nanok, is Obado who is charting a new political path and is betting on Ruto’s presidency for his political survival.