Gem MP race takes shape as two parties field candidates against ODM

Gem MP candidate Jalango Midiwo and incumbent Elisha Odhiambo. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

After weeks of controversy over the ODM nominee for the Gem parliamentary seat that resulted in a legal battle pitting incumbent MP Elisha Odhiambo against hopeful Jalango Midiwo, it is now all systems go as campaigns begin.

ODM has settled on Odhiambo to defend the seat while the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) and Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) have also fielded candidates to wrestle the seat from ODM.

It, however, remains to be seen if Odhiambo, CPK’s Booker Omole and DAP-K’s Isaiah Ndiege will leave the legacies that other titans the constituency has produced in the past left.

Among the shoes, they hope to fill is that of the late Argwings Kodhek who served as the constituency's first MP, Mrs Grace Ogot, a scholar and the late Oki Ooko Ombaka who played a pivotal role in the second liberation, and Joe Donde, who fought in Parliament to control bank interest rates.

While Odhiambo is optimistic he will retain his seat, his opponents claim they have the capacity to send him home. The MP has maintained the August election will be about the development track record and not smear campaigns.

“Those contesting for the Gem MP seat must be prepared to demonstrate good leadership and development,” said Odhiambo. 

His path to convincing voters to trust him with another term has been bumpy as he fought off stiff competition within the corridors of justice when ODM attempted to award Jalang’o the ODM ticket.

Although he was declared the winner of the ODM primaries after he garnered 7,405 votes against Jalango's 6,384 votes, a petition filed by the latter saw the ODM Central Committee direct the National Elections Board to award the certificate to his competitor.

Omole, a 40-year-old mechanical engineer and the current national chairman of CPK, is hoping to overcome his losses in 2013 and 2017 to win the seat. He first campaigned to become Gem MP in 2013. He finished third in that race. 

While unveiling his 17-point manifesto last week, Omole said he will focus on the empowerment of women and youth, food security, sports and clean water provision. 

Prof Ndiege, a former Kyambogo University VC has exuded confidence in being the next MP. The 63-year-old don says his passion for education gives him an edge over Odhiambo, who is a close ally to Siaya Senator James Orengo.

Senator Orengo will be facing former Rarieda MP Nicolas Gumbo in a bid to succeed Governor Cornel Rasanga who is serving his final second term.