Raila allies eye ODM ticket as race to succeed Awiti gathers steam
By Harold Odhiambo
| August 16th 2021
A political fight is intensifying in Homa Bay County as heavyweights keen on succeeding Governor Cyprian Awiti state their case in what is rapidly developing into a gigantic contest. ODM leader Raila Odinga’s closest allies have thrown their hats in the ring.
Although Raila has avoided the local succession talks in his backyard, all his foot soldiers eyeing the Homa Bay governorship are hoping for his endorsement.
During the burial of David Ajwang’, who was father to TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka MP) and Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ in Mbita on Friday, the succession race featured prominently as four leaders interested in the seat stated their cases.
Gladys Wanga, the Homa Bay Woman Rep and the county’s ODM chairperson, party chairman John Mbadi, Awiti’s deputy Hamilton Orata, and County Secretary Isaiah Ogwe are all interested in the seat.
The race has also attracted former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who has also been doing grassroots mobilisation.
All the leaders are members of ODM, the party that took all senior political seats in the county in the 2017 General Election.
The succession debate heightened during the funeral service. Political undertones were evident, as supporters of four candidates who attended the burial cheered them.
Mrs Wanga, who is hoping to use her track record as a Woman Rep and her position in the Finance Committee in the National Assembly, as well as her national political clout to win the seat, said she was the best bet.
Awiti has in the past said he holds the political key to unlock his succession, with his sentiments now becoming a key feature in the race to succeed him.
At the weekend, Wanga claimed she was capable of finding the campaign “key” in the race to succeed Awiti.
Her political career has been in an upward trajectory. She has climbed her way into the national front and in ODM circles, where she is one of the outstanding women in Raila’s inner circles.
“I am the one who knows where the key is,” she said amid cheers from mourners.
She is also banking her hopes on Homa Bay’s record in electing more women as MPs by hoping that the same will be replicated in the gubernatorial race.
Several leaders at the weekend event rooted for more women in leadership, which could be a boost for Wanga, should the electorate be convinced.
However, a tough contest awaits her after Mr Mbadi also expressed optimism of taking over the gubernatorial seat.
Using analogies, Mbadi claimed he knew how he would get the “key” from Awiti.
An astute orator, Mbadi has also begun grassroots mobilisation and is also hoping to win the seat.
Mr Orata is also not taking any chances and wants to continue with the administration after his boss retires. “I want to continue in a higher capacity as the governor,” he told mourners.
The leaders’ interests in the seat could put the ODM party in a dilemma. It remains to be seen how the party will conduct its nominations to avert the fallout witnessed in past polls.
At the weekend, Raila and the party’s Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said the nominations would be fair. However, it will not be a walk in the park for aspirants whose loyalty to the party is in question after ODM said it would be unfair for those who had been working against the party to seek its ticket.
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