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Kisii Governor James Ongwae (L) and Migori Governor Okoth Obado are some of the governors serving their last terms. [File, Standard]

Leaders oppose endorsement of preferred candidates as succession politics intensify

Funerals and church functions are being turned into campaign platforms as the scramble to succeed five Nyanza governors gains momentum.

Some politicians have come out to publicly declare their interest in succeeding Siaya, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori and Homa Bay governors whose terms are ending in 2022.

Although the elections are still two and a half years away, Nyanza appears to be in a campaign mood amid shifting political alliances.

Save for Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o who succeeded Jack Ranguma in 2017, all the other five governors Cornell Rasanga (Siaya), John Nyangarama (Nyamira), James Ongwae (Kisii), Okoth Obado (Migori) and Cyprian Awiti of Homa Bay are serving their last terms.

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But even Nyong’o is not assured of a second term as a number of candidates have expressed interest in the seat.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa and East African Community Principal Administrative Secretary Ken Obura are eying the governorship.

Sharply divided

In Homa Bay, Women Rep Gladys Wanga, ODM chairman and Suba South MP John Mbadi and former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga are seeking to succeed Awiti. Also eyeing the seat is businessman Sammy Wakiaga.

The Rasanga succession race has sharply divided Siaya leaders. The governor has publicly endorsed Ugunja MP James Opiyo Wandayi.

However, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo has dismissed Rasanga’s choice saying he will front Siaya Senator James Orengo.

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“No one knows better how devolution can work well for the people of Siaya than Orengo,” Mr Odhiambo, a first time MP who ousted ODM firebrand Jackoyo Midiwo, said.

But Orengo downplayed the endorsement. “We must give the elected leaders time to work. Time for politics is coming,” he said.

And Wandayi told Sunday Standard that he has not declared interest in any political position in the coming General Election.

“I thank all those who have expressed confidence in me but it is too early to do so. I am currently focused on delivering on the mandate bestowed on me by the people of Ugunja,” he said.

Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo who lost to Rasanga in 2017 and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s brother Oburu Oginga are also said to be strategising for the seat.

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Gumbo has started reaching out to political, religious and community leaders to solidify his base.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, Gumbo who still has a keen interest in the governorship, laughed off Rasanga’s choice of successor, saying people are free to express personal opinions.

“By merely saying I want so and so to succeed me is nothing more than just a wish. I am not aware of any single person whose vote is sufficient to guarantee one any elective position,” he said. Oburu said he will announce his political plans at the right time.

In Migori, Senator Ochillo Ayacko and former Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga are leading the pack of those seeking to succeed Governor Obado.

Others are Uriri MP Mark Nyamita, outgoing County Secretary Christopher Rosana, businessman Owiso Ongao, Dr Phillip Mwabe. Sources says former Cabinet minister and commissioner of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Dalmas Otieno could also be in the race. Anyanga has come out to defend Obado over accusations of failing to stem corruption in his county, a move analysts say could be designed to win the governor’s favour.

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“We cannot allow outsiders to pour scorn on our governor. As leaders we have an obligation to stand with our governor,” he said. But Ayacko insists anyone defending Obado was doing so to earn the governor’s endorsement ahead of the 2022 polls. 

A meeting Obado at his home in Rapogi in July attended by Anyanga raised speculation over the governor’s succession. Obado, however, denied claims he has a preferred successor. “Come 2022, the people will make a decision. They will not accept anyone imposed on them,” he said. 

Anyanga maintained the meeting did not discuss succession politics, insisting his focus was supporting the Uhuru-Raila handshake. Observers say Anyanga’s loyalty to ODM could pay off. In the last poll, his wife Ann Anyanga contested the seat.

Also said to be eyeing the seat is Migori Women Rep Pamela Odhiambo. We could not however reach her for comment. 

In Nyamira, Governor Nyagarama’s succession race is shaping up with those interested working behind the scenes. Deputy governor Amos Nyaribo is yet to declare his political stand while his Kisii counterpart Joash Maangi is seeking to succeed Mr Ongwae.

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Those who contested Nyamira governorship in 2017 and are expected to try their luck in 2022 are Walter Nyambati who was second in the polls, Mwancha Okioma, Dr Erneo Nyakiba, Dr James Gesami and Charles Mochama. In Kisii, former MP Manson Nyamweya, Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure, Boniface Omboto and Charles Bagwasi are seeking to succeed Ongwae.

Anyang’ Nyong’o Okoth Obado James Ongwae Nyanza Governors

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