Kisii leaders set aside differences, rally behind Raila’s State House bid

Kisii County political leaders drawn from Jubilee, ODM, KNC and other fringe parties during the first Azimio la Umoja rally at Kisii Agricultural Training grounds in Kisii county. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

Leaders allied to Jubilee, ODM, Kenya National Congress (KNC) and other fringe parties from Kisii County on Monday launched a joint Azimio la Umoja campaign in the region.

The leaders who spoke at Kisii Agricultural Training grounds said their aim was to rally behind ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid. 

Led by Governor James Ongwae, the group that boasts of more than 55 MCAs both in Jubilee and ODM the leaders said they will move around the county to drum up support for Raila.

The leaders present included Senator Sam Ongeri, Woman Rep Janet Ongera, Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi (all elected on ODM), Transport and Infrastructure CAS Chris Obure who was second in the governor's race on a Jubilee ticket in 2017, KNC party leader Manson Nyamweya and Bomachoge Chache MP Prof Zadock Ogutu (Independent) and members of the Gusii Council of Elders.

Gusii Council of Elders Chairman Araka Matundura said they had held meetings with other councils of elders from other communities and agreed to support Raila’s bid.

“We are all in agreement that we will support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda to unite the country. This is a unique moment in the country that we all need to embrace. All council of elders have agreed to support this noble course,” he said.

Ongeri said despite the political ambitions, they had agreed to support Raila’s bid as a community.

“We must remain united as a community and offer total support to our party leader. Those going against our wishes will not make it to the ballot. Our leaders have set a good example, and it is time we state our candidate.”

According to Ongeri, President Kenyatta had set the country on the right path. “We don’t want to have any infighting; it is our desire that whoever will be elected to represent Kisii County represents the aspirations of the Azimio la Umoja coalition,” he said.

Kisii governor race

Governor Ongwae said the Nyanza region has never been in power. "I am in the 10-member campaign team and I can assure the community and the country that we are doing our best."

He added: "Nyanza has been held together for years; we have stayed together to foster unity and harmony. Raila has fought for all the good things that have happened in the country. It is time for Nyanza to lead the country."

Ongwae called on those seeking to succeed him to avoid confrontational politics, saying one candidate can hold a political seat at any given time.

Ongeri who is also seeking to succeed Governor Ongwae took the opportunity to sell his agenda saying he had the experience to lead the County.

 Maangi who recently decamped from UDA said the Nyanza region has never had the opportunity to lead the country since 1963.

“This is our time; we will unite across the Nyanza region and ensure that we have delivered majority votes for Raila.  Let us take advantage of the IEBC registration exercise and ensure that we have delivered the necessary vote.”

He added: “I have the position of Deputy Governor for nine years; it is my time to succeed my boss. I have carried his coat diligently. It is time to get that reward.”

Obure called on the community to come together and support Raila’s bid. “We have to unite as a community to support Azimio la Umoja.”

Ongera urged the youth to register over 160,000 votes in the same spirit to support Raila.

“We must end local political wars and ensure that we have come together to support Azimio la Moja. We can only have one Governor at a time; we cannot afford to be fighting all the time,” she said.

Nyamweya said it was time to reward Raila for his consistency in Kenyan leadership.

“He has done enough for the country; he has sacrificed enough for the country. We have our local battles, but we are all in agreement that we must remain together to help Raila clinch the presidency.”