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It’s tightrope for deputy governors seeking to take over from bosses

By Harold Odhiambo and John Shilitsa | Jan 4th 2022 | 4 min read

Kisii Governor James Ongwae (right) and his Deputy Joash Maangi at the Court of Appeal in Kisumu, May 15, 2018. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Deputy governors from Western and Nyanza counties are walking a tightrope in their quest to succeed their bosses in this year’s General Election.

Some of the deputy governors have also declared interest in other elective seats other than the governorship.

The deputy county chiefs are banking their hopes on the experience they have had during their stints in the devolved units to win support.

For some, however, the baggage and failures of their outgoing bosses are hanging over their heads.

In Kisii, vocal Deputy Governor Joash Maangi wants to succeed James Ongwae who is serving his last term.

Like the biblical prodigal son, Maangi, who was leaning towards Deputy President William Ruto side, made a U-turn recently and now supports ODM chief Raila Odinga’s camp, perhaps a strategy to crack the tough jigsaw puzzle in the 2022 succession battle.

His dalliance with DP Ruto appears to have given his competitors in the ODM camp a reason to question Maangi’s loyalty to the party. And with the party’s tough stand on members perceived to be disloyal, Maangi is at pains to convince party delegates that he deserves the Orange party certificate.

Insiders confided that lack of surety over Ruto’s support for his governorship race caused Maangi to return to ODM where he will face off with other veteran politicians in party primaries to secure the ticket.

His first hurdle will be to convince ODM supporters to choose him for the ticket over his competitors like Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, Senator Sam Ongeri and Woman Rep Janet Ongera who have been unwavering in their support for ODM and their party boss.

Maangi has joined hands with Ongwae, Ongeri and Ongera in crafting a winning team against the Arati’s group that is backed up by MP Richard Onyonka.

In Siaya, Deputy Governor James Okumbe has shown interest in succeeding Governor Cornel Rasanga who is serving his last term.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga with his deputy James Okumbe during their swearing-in ceremony, 2017. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

Okumbe opponents have questioned the county in provision of services to locals, noting it was below par.

The county’s performance gives Okumbe a daunting task to detach from its perceived failures and convince locals to back him for the seat. 

He is also set to face a crowded ODM field. Siaya Senator James Orengo, former police spokesman Charles Owino, and former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo are also interested in governorship.

Recently, Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi claimed that Rasanga’s administration had failed.

“We have not benefitted from devolution in Siaya. There is totally nothing to show from the county government even in my own constituency,” said Atandi.

Okumbe could find it hard explaining to voters the performance of the administration he has served in, and how he intends to ensure that the county government initiates more development projects in case he is elected.

In Homa Bay, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata is among a host of aspirants seeking to replace Governor Cyprian Awiti who is also serving his final term. Orata has a daunting task detaching himself from alleged under-performance of the devolved unit.

Others who want to replace Awiti are Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, ODM chairman John Mbadi, former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, former MP Oyugi Magwanga, businessmen Jared Otieno and Luis Ogingo, County Secretary Isaiah Ogwe and Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori.

In Nyamira, Governor Amos Nyaribo, who rose up the rank from the deputy governor position following the death of his boss John Nyagarama, is keen on defending the seat.

Nyamira Deputy Governor James Gesami handlers also told The Standard he was likely to try his luck again for the top county seat.

Former MPs Mwancha Okioma, Walter Nyambati, Timothy Bosire and Borabu MP Ben Momanyi also plan to dislodge Nyaribo.

Nyong’o and Owili

In Kisumu, Deputy Governor Mathews Owili is hoping Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o will trust him again and select him to deputise him as they make another onslaught for a second term.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyongo (right) with his deputy Mathews Owili, November 2020. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Kakamega Deputy Governor Philip Kutima has hit the road running, urging voters to elevate him.

According to Prof Kutima, the experience he has acquired as the second-in-command for the past nine years would help him manage the county affairs effectively.

“I have been close to Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and I contributed a lot to the flagship projects you see around,” Kutima told The Standard.

The former lecturer said he would complete projects initiated by Oparanya and working with everybody to develop Kakamega County.

“My competitors lack capacity and the experience to lead a county. I have been inside there long enough to tell what is expected of me,” he said.

He said Kakamega is among counties where squabbles have not been witnessed.

He will square it out with Lugari MP Ayub Savula, former Senator Boni Khalwale, Ketraco Managing Director Fernandes Barasa, Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito, Senator Cleophas Malala and Mombasa-based lawyer Leonard Shimaka.

In Busia, Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi has been endearing himself to voters hoping that they will elect him this year.

At one point, Governor Sospeter Ojamoong, who has announced that he will be going for the MP seat next year, endorsed Mulomi as the preferred successor.

Mulomi will battle it out with former Cabinet Minister Paul Otuoma, Nambale MP John Bunyasi, Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua, Senator Amos Wako and former Agricultural Finance Corporation Managing Director Lucas Meso.

Bungoma Deputy Governor Ngome Kibanani decamped from Ford-Kenya to UDA and declared interest to vie for Bungoma senator.

It means Governor Wycliffe Wangamati will be forced to look for a running mate as he prepares to mount campaigns for his re-election bid.

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