NAIROBI: Tired of playing second fiddle and being regarded as flower girls, many deputy governors are plotting to take on their bosses in next year’s polls.
At the beginning of their term, deputy governors through the Deputy Governors Forum, complained of frustrations due to lack of clearly defined roles.
But they are now crafting their own alliances to unseat governors after their political marriage of five years is over.
In Nyanza, deputy governors in Kisii, Nyamira, Kisumu and Siaya counties have set their sights on the top seats.
In Kisumu, Ruth Odinga is determined to unseat Jack Ranguma come next year.
Ms Ruth vied for the position in the 2013 General Election but lost in the ODM party primaries and was forced to deputise Mr Ranguma.
A sister of ODM party leader, Raila Odinga, she traces her roots in Siaya County and is said to be using a political forum comprising people who hail from outside Kisumu to form a voting base ahead of the next elections.
In her recent meeting with professional members, which was largely criticised by Ranguma, Ruth maintained that as a politician she has the right to meet any constituency of voters and made no apologies for that.
“We are always being treated as outsiders and I have always felt like an orphan even though I am the deputy governor. I will be on the ballot in 2017 and anybody who wants to work with me must accept to be my running mate,” said Ruth.
In Siaya , Deputy Governor Ouma Onyango is preparing to battle it out with his boss, Cornel Rasanga, should the governor fail to pick him as the running mate.
And in Kisii, Governor James Ongwae and his deputy, Joash Maangi, have drifted apart and now belong to different political groups although they were elected as a team.
Mr Ongwae is sticking to ODM, while his deputy has been part of two delegations of Gusii leaders that have visited State House to meet the President in the past month.
Mr Maangi said he has the ambition to run for the governor’s seat.
“A good manager should have a clear plan. One has to prepare the ground and check on the reality before going for any elective seat,” he said, adding that there was nothing wrong with his ambitions.
Although Ongwae maintains he has achieved most of his campaign pledges, Maangi said he will soon embark on a ward-to-ward trip to audit all projects that have been done by the county government.
“For now I will not be able to comment on the status of these projects because I have not gone on site to confirm them,” he said.
At the same time, the relationship between Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama and his deputy, Amos Nyaribo, has not been rosy.
Early in the year, Mr Nyaribo announced he will vie for the gubernatorial seat after he distanced himself from the alleged failures under Mr Nyagarama’s leadership.
The deputy has since embarked on campaigns against his boss, even as Nyagarama consistently insists he has no differences with him.
The differences aside, Nyagarama maintains that it would be safer for his deputy to run with him in the next elections, especially owing to the fact that he will not have any defence for not delivering on various challenges the county was experiencing.
“It will be more difficult for him to run against me. What excuse will he have for not working as expected, because, I gave him a docket which he never delivered on,” said the governor.
In Bomet, Governor Isaac Ruto, and his deputy, Stephen Mutai, have fallen out and the latter is now preparing to unseat his boss.
Mr Mutai, a former chief executive officer at Tenwek Mission Hospital, has declared he will run against Ruto on the Jubilee ticket.
Mutai is a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto and has been complaining of being subjected to what he calls ‘political injustice’, as the second in command to Ruto in the county.
“I have learnt hard political lessons as the deputy governor of Bomet and despite being starved financially as a strategy to frustrate me, I am ready for the challenge and will definitely carry the day come 2017,” Mutai said.
Mutai joins the crowded governorship race, which has also attracted the National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, former Konoin MP Julius Kones and former Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui.
In Turkana County, Governor Josphat Nanok’s frosty relationship with his deputy, Peter Lokoel, recently played out.
This is after the governor launched a scathing attack on him during an ODM rally. Mr Nanok accused the deputy of joining forces with his opponents in the county to fight him.
Mr Lokoel was not at the rally that was graced by ODM leader, Raila, after the conclusion of the Turkana Tourism and Cultural Festival.
“It is saddening that my deputy, whom you gave me, has joined forces with those fighting me. He is in fact working on insubordination but I am unmoved, I will forge on,” he said.
Lokoel has been accused of working with the ‘Sky Team’ led by Senator John Munyes and consisting of MPs Christopher Nakuleu (Turkana North), Protus Akuja (Loima) Nicholas Ngikor (Turkana East), Daniel Epuyo (Turkana West), Joyce Emanikor (Woman Rep) and James Lomenen (Turkana South).
While Mr Nanok is firmly in ODM, the Sky Team is allied to Jubilee.
In West Pokot, Governor Simon Kachapin and his deputy, Titus Lotee, appear to have buried their differences after a frosty working relationship.
Mr Kachapin differences with his deputy emanated from an alleged dalliance Mr Lotee was having with the perceived foes of the governor, including the Senator John Lonyangapuo who is also eyeing the seat.
The same case applies in Machakos, where Governor Alfred Mutua has been fighting with his deputy, Bernard Kiala, who is determined to unseat him and has already launched a voter sensitisation programme dubbed ‘Ugatuzi na Kiala’ (Devolution with Kiala).
The two leaders were elected on a Wiper party ticket but fell out three years ago after the governor accused Mr Kiala of holding clandestine meetings with a section of MCAs in a bid to have him impeached.
Thereafter, Kiala teamed up with Mr Mutua’s fiercest political critic, Senator Johnstone Muthama, and have since been asking voters to reject the governor’s re-election bid come 2017.
Kiala has been accusing Mutua of presiding over a corrupt government, which he claims has failed to address the critical issues facing the residents of Machakos County.
There have been bitter differences between Kirinyaga Governor Joseph Ndathi and his deputy, Julius Njiiri.
In December 2013 at an Embu hotel, Mr Njiiri declared he would oppose Mr Ndathi next year, and that marked the beginning of their frosty relations.
At one point Njiiri went public and claimed he was unable to discharge his duties since his official vehicle had not been allocated with money for fuel.
In Murang’a, Governor Mwangi wa Iria and his running mate, Gakure Monyo, have had frosty relations, with things boiling over on Friday, when the deputy governor was allegedly locked out of a meeting chaired by the governor.
In the latest spat, Mr Monyo and nine MCAs perceived to be supporting the candidature of Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau for governorship were also turned away from the meeting that was to deliberate on development and planning.
The nine who were sent away are David Muhoro (Kariara), Ndung’u Muchina (Gatanga), Charles Kirigwi (Kinyona), Duncan Njuguna (Gitugi), Samuel Dishon Wandia (Muthithi) and their nominated colleagues Florence Nyambura, James Kagoni and one Waithira.