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Raila picks out new point men at Coast to strengthen party

ODM party leader Raila Odinga [2nd right] is joined in dance by Ashah Hussein [left], Agness Zani, Justus Kizito, Abdulswamad Nassir and Ali Hassan Joho. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is out to reinvent itself at the Coast, with its leader, Raila Odinga said to be in the final stage of identifying his new crop of point men ahead of the 2022 elections.

Yesterday, Raila held exclusive meetings with ODM Members of Parliament at the Coast in his efforts to consolidate the region after he recently succeeded in taming revolts from proponents of a regional party.  

A fortnight ago, Raila revealed his plan to groom his ‘new pillars’ noting that Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has overgrown local politics and is ready for the ‘national league’.

“Joho has matured politically and is moving to the national league. This other league down here will be left for people like Nassir (Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir),” said Raila.

Mombasa lawyer Abubakar Yusuf concurs: “It is a reinvention plan for ODM before the 2020 elections. He wants to solidify his base in Coast, and Joho and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi are losing the grip because they will not be contesting in 2022. Raila has seen this.”

ODM Party leader Raila Odinga (left) and Mvita Member of Parliament, Abdulswamad Nassir (centre) during NHIF biometric registration in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Yusuf added that the defection of Suleiman Shahbal from Jubilee Party could complicate matters. Nassir, Shahbal and Joho’s deputy Dr William Kingi have declared interest to vie for Mombasa Governorship on the ODM ticket.

In Kilifi County, Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire and Speaker of the county assembly Jimmy Kahindi are emerging as the new faces of ODM, as Governor Kingi focuses on national politics. 

Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro and former Kaloleni MP Kazungu Kambi, both Jubilee adherents, are warming up to ODM as they seek to succeed Governor Kingi.

Pwani University Don Halim Shauri says the proposed ODM/Jubilee merger is shaping Coast politics.

“The exit of governors Joho, Kingi, and Kwale’s Salim Mvurya, and expected merger of ODM and Jubilee will create a wave in the Coast. It will be UDA vs Jubilee/ODM,” he said.

Former Senator Hassan Omar Sarai who is one of UDA’s top strategists has declared that he will vie for Mombasa governorship on the party’s ticket. 

From left, Governor Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), and Salim Mvurya in Kwale on March 30, 2021. [Courtesy, Standard]

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa has positioned herself as the preferred UDA candidate for the Kilifi governorship race. Last week, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya dropped out of the race for the ticket.

In Kwale, those firmly under the wings of ODM are county women representative Zuleikha Hassan and Senator Issa Juma Boy.

“Raila can still look at the ticket of Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga and Safina Kwekwe if the Jubilee/ODM merger happens. It is a very strong combination,” said Yusuf.

Boga and Kwekwe, Principal Secretaries of Agriculture and Tourism respectively, are said to have joined hands to battle for Kwale governorship. Others eying the seat are Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani of Jubilee.

In Taita Taveta, Governor Granton Samboja who was elected on a Wiper ticket has been gravitating towards Raila, hence repositioning himself as kingpin for his new outfit. 

In Tana River, Transport CAS Hussein Dado who is expected to vie for governorship is leaning towards ODM, but Governor Godhana remains ODM point man in the county.

ODM leader Raila Odinga at Ikanga Airstrip in Voi town, Taita-Taveta County, with Governor Granton Samboja. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

Political analyst Maimuna Mwidau observed that ODM was still the party to beat in Coast region, hence why politicians such as Shahbal and Mung’aro were eyeing it.

Raila still has a big following in Coast and this is why some politicians are gravitating towards ODM. Raila will take Joho to the national table to checkmate people like Kingi,” Mwidau argued.

Meanwhile, Raila was in Mvita yesterday where he launched the National Hospital Insurance Fund Mvita Medical Cover Programme, which will provide cover for 15,000 families at a cost of Sh12m per year, according to area MP Abdulswamad Nassir.

 [Additional reporting by Joackim Bwana and Philip Mwakio]

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