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Nominations aftermath: Tales of betrayal, millions lost in power games

Police officers guard ballot boxes at Muliro Gardens in Kakamega town during the Amani National Congress nomination process on April 20, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Our democracy is yet to come of age at least if going by the recent party nominations is anything to go by.

Nominations for major parties in the country like Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), the Amani National Congress (ANC), Jubilee and Ford Kenya were laced with violence, allegations of bribery, rigging and hawking of nomination certificates to the highest bidder.

The shambolic exercise has destroyed careers and left aspirants who didn’t make past the primaries footing huge pending bills as well as servicing bank loans.

To some aspirants, their political ambitions were killed when they were forced to drop out of the race through ‘consensus’.

“I started campaigning in January and put up campaign structures all over Mumias East constituency and the ODM party promised us free and fair nominations,” said Philip Okomba Sakwa, who is now vying as an Independent Candidate.

He went on: “I paid Sh250, 000 as a nomination fee to the ODM party and then prepared myself for a bruising battle with my competitors (Kassim Were and Lucas Radoli) that I was to face at the ballot on the nominations day. I was shocked when the party cancelled the nominations at the last minute.”

Dr Okomba told the Saturday Standard that they were then told that an opinion poll was being conducted, saying the top candidate after the poll was to be issued with the nomination certificate.

Okomba said that he realised that he had been shortchanged when he was told to step down from the race on grounds that he had performed dismally in the race

Mumias East parliamentary aspirant Philip Sakwa Okomba. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

“An influential politician from Kakamega summoned me to a meeting and told me that if I am to get a nomination certificate, I must organise a big rally of over 3,000 people in the constituency within 12 hours so that I can create the perception that I have a huge following. That was the only way he was going to help me get the certificate,” said Okomba.

He went on: “I had already spent over Sh5million in popularising my candidature at the time the nominations were called off and later the certificate issued to my competitor. I refused to step down and I will be on the ballot as an independent candidate,”

ODM issued the Mumias East parliamentary nomination certificate to Malaha/Isongo/Makunga ward rep Lucas Radoli.

In Bungoma, Zachariah Barasa, who was a UDA governorship aspirant who for the last two years has been traversing the county popularising himself was shocked when he was forced to drop his gubernatorial bid to favour of Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, a Ford Kenya aspirant.

 “I had spent a fortune for the two years I was on the ground drumming up support for myself and Deputy President William Ruto. I was shortchanged during injury time and that was so inhumane and political deceit,” said Barasa.

Bungoma Governorship aspirant Zachariah Barasa. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

At one point, Barasa demanded that the UDA party refund him the Sh500, 000 he paid as nomination fees but that fell on deaf ears.

“UDA party leadership had endorsed my candidature only to make a u-turn and favour Lusaka. I was informed that there was no way UDA was going to field a gubernatorial candidate in Bungoma and that it was a preserve of Ford Kenya,’ said Barasa.

Ford Kenya under the stewardship of Moses Wetang’ula and Amani National Congress (ANC) of Musalia Mudavadi forms part of the Kenya Kwanza alliance.

“After being frustrated in UDA, I bolted out and now I will be in the race as an independent candidate,” said Barasa.

Dr Kenneth Bukachi, a Kakamega Senatorial aspirant also found himself in unchartered waters after Boni Khalwale stepped down from the gubernatorial race in favour of Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale when he ceded ground for Cleophas Malala to run for the Gubernatorial seat at the Deputy President William Ruto's Karen residence, Nairobi County. [DPPS]

“I just saw on TV Khalwale being announced as the UDA senatorial candidate and yet I was the one flying that flag. It was one of the lowest moments of my life,” said Dr Bukachi.

Dr Bukachi, a pharmacist by profession, resigned as the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) Kisumu Regional Distribution Centre Manager to venture into politics.

“It’s in bad taste to use your resources in promoting a party for over a year, pay nomination fees and be dumped like that. I am the best bet for the Kakamega people and am still in the race. I am now vying on the UDP party,” said Dr Bukachi.

Kakamega Senatorial aspirant Kenneth Bukachi. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

But according to Prof Nyukuri Barasa, an election and governance expert from Bungoma, opines that when you want to venture into politics, one should not put all his eggs in one basket but have several options on the table.

“In politics, you should be prepared for anything especially when your party is in a coalition with other outfits because the interests of party chiefs always override those of individual aspirants,” said Prof Barasa.

He went on: “When you see parties coming together to form alliances, as an aspirant, you should prepare for the worst-case scenario regardless of how much you have invested in the party and the party leader.”

Prof Barasa said party leaders on the presidential ballot are always interested in numbers and not the interests of individual aspirants when entering into coalitions, saying being shortchanged is the order of the day.

 “You can be a popular candidate and even win in the nominations but the certificate will be issued to a weaker candidate who may even win in the main election due to the party euphoria in the region,” said Emmanuela Mulaa, a political scientist from the University of Nairobi.

Ms Mulaa avers that there was no way Ruto would have sponsored a candidate to compete with Lusaka, a Ford Kenya zone and sponsor another candidate to compete with ANC in Kakamega.

Kakamega Deputy Governor Prof Philip Kutima was an ODM governorship candidate but was overlooked for Fernandes Barasa.

Kakamega ODM gubernatorial aspirant Fernandes Barasa addresses the media in Kakamega town on March 22, 2022. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

He moved to the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) where again he was substituted with Lugari MP Ayub Savula.

Prof Kutima has now joined Kenya Kwanza and has bolted out of the race.

In Shinyalu, after Kakamega County ODM chairman was denied the ODM ticket which was issued to former Shinyalu MP Anami Lisamula, he defected to DAP-K on the eve of the party hoping deadline.

He was given the nomination certificate and Ambeyi Ligabo, the DAP-K candidate shortchanged.