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Rusana's candidature causes political heat as race to succeed Obado intensifies

Migori Governor Okoth Obado with County Secretary Christopher Rusana at a past function. Rusana has declared interest in the Migori gubernatorial race. [Anne Atieno, Standard]

The entry of Migori County Secretary into the race to succeed Governor Okoth Obado appears to have rattled seasoned politicians who have accused him of using elders to endorse his candidature.

Christopher Rusana's endorsement by Suba Community elders has seen other aspirants cry foul, saying the decision of the elders who attended the May 3, meeting in Kisii was compromised.

The aspirants led by Migori Woman Rep Pamela Odhiambo have vowed never to step down.

Odhiambo, businessman Philip Mwabe, former Migori MP John Pesa, former Mombasa executive Seth Odongo and businessman Owiso Ngao have rubbished the endorsement, saying the process was unfair and that the outcome was influenced.

The exercise was conducted by elders led by Pentecostal Evangelical Faith of Africa (PEFA) chairman John Okinda and a team of six opinion leaders from Suna East and Suna West constituencies.

The meeting held at the Carmel Park hotel in Kisii town was attended by Mrs Odhiambo, Rusana, Mwabe and Pesa while Odongo and Ngao did not attend.

Speaking to The Standard early this week, Mwabe said he opposed the voting idea after the candidates present refused to pick insisting that despite the selection of Rusana, he would be on the ballot.

When contacted by The Standard, Pesa and Mrs Odhiambo said they are still in the race.

“My candidature is not on reverse gear. I will be on the ballot come 2022,” said Mrs Odhiambo.

Consult opponents

Rusana has, however, downplayed the wrangles, promising to consult with his opponents to ensure the region produces a candidate.

In a phone interview with The Standard on May 16, Rusana who wants to run on an ODM ticket wondered why the change of heart yet his opponents fully participated in the exercise.

“We were all present, and they fully participated, I still don’t know what happened a few days later, maybe the media can find out from them,” he said.

He said with the elders’ blessing, it is all system go as he tries to consolidate his backyard before he can approach other regions.

The country secretary said he is banking on the support of the masses and not that of Governor Obado as his opponents are claiming to win the seat come 2022.

“There is something the elders saw in me, I don’t take it for granted and will not disappoint their trust,” added Rusana.

 “Because I am always a quiet person, my opponents have been underestimating me. I will not mind getting the support of like-minded leaders who will help me shape Migori, I will first take my mandate to people.”

According to the Suba community elders led by chairman Riogi Riogi, having a single candidate would increase their son or daughter’s chances of succeeding Governor Obado.

Riogi said he is aware of the wrangle t, but called on other aspirants who felt shortchanged to seek dialogue.

“In our own wisdom, we saw that placing a single candidate would strengthen the community’s unity and supporting the candidate would be easy and hence the winning of the elections,” Riogi said.

The Suna clan, which is part of the Suba community, has been angling to field a single candidate to solidify Suna West (46,162 votes) and Suna East (46,574 votes) out of the 389,182 votes in Migori.

PDP factor

With Governor Obado ditching the ODM for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Kuria community factor, the 2022 Migori gubernatorial race could be the trickiest.

Obado is reported to have mounted a massive membership recruitment drive for the PDP after announcing he will ditch Raila Odinga-led ODM.

The governor's point men have rolled out registration and membership drive across the county manually and digitally in an exercise expected to run up to the end of the year.

Other aspirants who are eying the seat include Assembly Speaker Boaz Okoth, Senator Ochillo Ayacko, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, former Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga, US-based academician Mark Ogutu and businessman Robert Okong’o.

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