Titanic battle anticipated in Siaya governor’s race

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 00:00 | By
Siaya Speaker rejects Orengo's Cabinet list over missed details about nominees
Siaya Governor James Orengo. Photo/PD/FILE

Kepher Otieno

With barely a year to the 2022 General Elections, several aspirants are angling for the Siaya gubernatorial seat with each of them expressing confidence of earning victory.

The candidates include Siaya Senator James Orengo, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, former police spokesman Charles Owino and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Others include Siaya deputy governor James Okumbe, former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege, who has been burning the midnight oil strategising on how to win the seat.

Former Auditor General Edward Ouko has also been linked to the seat currently occupied by Cornel Rasanga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) whose is serving his second term.

It will be a real battle, and like in other ODM primaries in former Luo Nyanza to win ticket.

The office of the governor has gained strength over the years after the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010, with ODM dominating county leadership.

Voters are concerned about the economy and the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in a way that will not affect the general life cycle or economic production.

Still in active service

“He has said he is weighing options, but should he decide, he will give the rest a run for their money,” said Chrispine Ochieng Adeya ‘Ochi Live’ a youth mobiliser in Nairobi and Siaya.

Yesterday, Owino said he was yet to declare his party of choice due to the fact he is still in active police service.

“I am yet to make the decision because I am still in active police service. When the right time comes, I will come out open on my party I will be running on, but it will be the strong party in my home region,” said Owino.

They are also keen to see how each of the aspirants’ philosophies will differ from Rasanga who faces criticism of poor performance.

Free and fair primaries

Voters are however apprehensive on whether ODM, the dominant party in the region will hold free and fair primaries.

There also seems to be fatigue with ‘guided democracy’ in which key political positions are shared on the basis of an informal agreement across the county.

According to John Okinda, a resident, they want a governor with a strong understanding of the running government bureaucracy.

“To be a strong governor we need a leader who not only has good ideas, but also one who can motivate others about those new ideas,’’ says Okinda

 “This influence must be strong because it needs to not only reach through the state legislation, but extend into the community and reach the voters as well,’’ he adds.

Democratic nominations

Orengo says he believes in democracy and not autocracy noting that he hopes to compete with other candidates during the party primaries.

“Much of a governor’s power comes from his or one’s powers and art of persuasion. We will talk to the voters as we have always done and continues to do,’’ he says.

“Ultimately, it’s the peoples will that will prevail over at the ballot and not individuals. I believe in people power,’’ the Senate Minority leader says.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and growing fear that the conventional campaign rallies may not be allowed next year, they have the candidates have gone digital in the search for votes.

Some of the aspirants are campaigning virtually through different social media platforms in what has been dubbed “scientific campaigns’’ as the race gathers pace.

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