Oparanya wants his loyal deputy to succeed him

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his deputy Philip Kutima.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has endorsed his deputy Philip Kutima to succeed him.

Oparanya said Prof Kutima was not only loyal but also capable of managing county government affairs.

“I have done my work and now the ball is in your court,” Oparanya told residents of Malava, the deputy governor’s home turf.

The governor has been playing the succession cards close to his chest, keeping locals guessing about his preferred successor.

“I have had a cordial working relationship with him (Kutima), unlike other counties where overambitious deputy governors are seeking to oust their bosses,” Oparanya said during the homecoming ceremony for Deputy Speaker Leonard Kasaya at Shirugu/Mugai ward.

“Disputes between governors and their deputies have scuttled development in some counties, but Kakamega has made huge progress because we don’t have such wrangles,” he said.

The announcement, it is believed, will set the stage for a major political battle for the seat. Those who were eyeing to succeed Oparanya could be forced back to the drawing board.

Their main headache would be how to deal with Oparanya’s immense influence and his combined financial muscle with that of Prof Kutima.

“It is not the first time Oparanya has indicated he will stand with me. It is almost the fifth time he has done so and I believe we will carry the day,” Kutima told the Standard Saturday in his office. “By 2022, I will have served a decade under Oparanya. No one is better suited to fulfill the dreams of the people of this great county than myself. That is the reason Oparanya has a lot of confidence in me.”

Those who have so far declared interest in the seat include former Senator Boni Khalwale, National Assembly Chief Chip Benjamin Washiali, Senator Cleophas Malala, MPs Kizito Mugali (Shinyalu) and Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani) and former Cabinet minister Amukowa Anangwe.