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Leaders now plotting their survival beyond 2022 elections

By Harold Odhiambo | December 6th 2021

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri at his Gesusu home during his gubernatorial launch. [Sammy Omingo,Standard]

With some of them facing the prospects of being sent to political oblivion after the 2022 General Elections due to the end of their terms, age or party choice, several leaders are crafting new ways to stay within the circles of power.

Some leaders and career politicians who have maintained an iron grip on power for several years are facing an uncertain future as the country heads to the polls, with most of them plotting their survival.

From eyeing other seats, sponsoring candidates and forging new partnerships, the leaders, like the second term governors, are scheming their political survival.

And as the clock is ticking towards the 2022 polls, other leaders who have been in the political cold after they were voted out in past elections are also keen to make a return.

In the Nyanza region, several leaders whose political futures hung in the balance are on overdrive as they seek to remain relevant and stay in and around power.

The list includes three retiring governors and senior politicians who have served the countries for several decades but are not keen to retire just yet.

In Kisii, veteran politician and Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri is among those plotting their political survival and has set his eyes on the Kisii governor seat despite critics calling for his retirement.

At 83, Ogeri believes he still has the mettle to drive the county forward, and he claims his years of experience in public service makes him the best bet for the county.

He is set to face a wave of younger aspirants who have also entered the race to succeed Governor James Ongwae.

Other aspirants include; Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, Kenya National Congress Party leader Manson Nyamweya and Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Machogu.

Yesterday, the senior politician launched his bid for the governorship and is keen to prove that his age and several years of experience will be a blessing for the agriculture-rich county.

"People of Kisii County, I have decided to present myself as a candidate for the Kisii governors seat in the 2022 General Election and request for your support," said Ongeri.

In the same county, another veteran politician and Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure, 76, is also eyeing the seat.

The former Kisii Senator and Bobasi MP said he could competitively win the seat.

Obure previously served as a Cabinet minister in the governments of President Daniel Arap Moi and the coalition government of retired President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

But he is not alone, another career politician and former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara, is also scheming a political comeback.

He has endeared himself to Deputy President William Ruto’s camp, and he is campaigning for the Kisii governor seat.

In the Nyanza region, some of the leaders facing uncertain political futures are aligning themselves with some presidential aspirants with the hope of landing jobs in their governments.

Retiring governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), who are yet to declare what they intend to pursue after leaving office, are part of the team playing a role in Raila’s presidential bid.

Ongwae has been Raila’s point man in Kisii and is among the leaders expected to play an important role beyond the 2022 General Elections should Raila clinch the presidency.

Ongwae has been spearheading the formation of the Lake Region Economic Bloc and being a pillar in the support for the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020, in the region.

The governor has in recent days intensified his efforts to strengthen the grassroots network for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief in the Gusii region.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado, on the other hand, is chattering a new path and is betting on Ruto’s presidency for his political survival.

Although Obado claims he is also in the race for the presidency, he has been working closely with Ruto and aims to unlock some votes for the DP in Nyanza.

However, it remains to be seen whether the political support he enjoyed in the past in Migori will continue beyond 2022 if the reception he received when he welcomed Dr Ruto in Migori is anything to go by.

Obado was heckled in Migori town and various stops, casting doubt on his political future when he leaves office.

As part of his efforts to remain relevant, Obado, who has fallen out with Raila’s ODM party, is keen to build his own identity and is banking his hopes on Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the Western region, Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) are betting their political futures on Raila’s camp and are among the leaders pulling strings in the region for the ODM chief's presidential bid.

Ojaamong is said to be among those eyeing other seats in a list that also includes; Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga, who has trained his eyes for Alego Usonga parliamentary seat.

Another crop of leaders is spending sleepless nights plotting their political relevance after a few years in the political cold.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is among high-profile individuals eyeing to make a political comeback in the 2022 General Election. He will face off with several politicians for the Homa Bay Governor seat.

Kidero served as Nairobi governor between 2013 and 2017 before he was dethroned by Mike Mbuvi Sonko in the August 2017 vote and has been in the cold since then.

But now, he has been traversing Homa Bay with the hopes of convincing the county residents to elect him.

However, it remains to be seen whether his efforts will bear any fruit as his opponents are keen on keeping him in the political cold. His opponents are led by Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga and ODM chairperson John Mbadi, who have continued with intense mobilizations ahead of the polls.

In Kisumu, however, there was a twist at the weekend after former Governor Jack Ranguma shelved his ambitions of making a comeback and instead endorsed former Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura for the seat.

Obura, who has been optimistic of making a return, will face off with ex-Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, who is also determined to return to politics. They will face Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o.

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