Raila dilemma in governors races at Coast

ODM leader Raila Odinga with Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho during a stopover at Tudor, Mombasa County, March 4, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga faces a huge dilemma in the Coast governor's races.

The counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Kilifi are considered Raila’s strongholds and they all have attracted political heavyweights that will have to fight for the party ticket.

As the party plans staggered primaries, Raila finds himself in a political dilemma on how to conduct the exercise and avoid a possible fallout afterwards.

Being his stronghold, free and fair primaries is key in ensuring that he continues to enjoy the support.

Tana River and Lamu counties are less populous and voters are more independent. 

Already there are jitters by aspirants for the party ticket who have called for a free and fair nomination process.

During the ODM National Delegates Congress, the party approved four methods of identifying its candidates: direct nomination, consensus, delegates voting, and universal suffrage.

However, most of the aspirants prefer universal suffrage claiming that it would ensure fairness.  

In Mombasa, the battle to succeed Mr Hassan Joho has attracted four aspirants. They are Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, businessman Suleiman Shahbal, Kisauni’s Ali Mbogo, and deputy governor Mr William Kingi.

Suleiman Shahbal addresses the press in Mombasa, September 2020. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Mr Nassir, whose rivalry with Mr Shabhal has intensified in the recent past, yesterday insisted that only primaries will sort out the winner.

“We are ready, the ODM members in Mombasa should be given the opportunity to decide who will be their next governor, may the best team win,” said Mr Nassir.

Across Kilifi, four aspirants including immediate former Devolution CAS Gideon Mung’aro, speaker Jimmy Kahindi, Kenyan High Commissioner to Tanzania Dan Kazungu, and Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi have lined up to succeed Amason Kingi.

Just like Mombasa, Mr Mung’aro and Mr Kahindi have both called for the nomination to be decided by members. Both Mung’aro and Kazungu defected back to ODM after five years in Jubilee Party.

In Taita Taveta race, governor Granton Samboja who is fighting to secure a second term through ODM will face Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime.

Mr Samboja was elected on Wiper ticket in 2017 while Mwadime is a two terms MP for Mwatate and a close confidant of Raila.

 The Kwale governor contest has attracted four aspirants led by former Agriculture Principal Secretary Prof Hamadi Boga, Agnes Zani, county Speaker Sammy Ruwa and Chai Lung’anzi.

Prof Boga last week asked ODM to give him the party ticket. “The party need not be involved in the primaries, I am the popular aspirant, they should settle on me because I will deliver victory,” said Prof Boga.

Meanwhile, Defence Cabinet Secretary Mr Eugene Wamalwa, DAP-Kenya leader Mr Wafula Wamunyinyi and Kisii Senator Prof Sam Ongeri have said President Uhuru Kenyatta is right in campaigning for the ODM leader.

Mr Wamalwa, Mr Wamunyinyi and Prof Ongeri spoke at Nyanturago Stadium in Kisii County yesterday when the latter launched his bid for Kisii governor seat on DAP-Kenya.

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The three said the President had found out that the best candidate to take over from him was Mr Raila and that nobody should castigate him for charting his succession since he wanted the best for the country.

The Defence CS told Kenyans that the President knew all the leaders in the country and he could not be wrong to choose Mr Raila from among them to take over as next Head of State.

He said other outgoing presidents the world over did the same.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has made history for having chosen his competitor in the last three elections to be his successor. He must have seen some good qualities in Raila Odinga for him to want him as his successor. We are fully behind our President,” said Wamalwa.

Wamunyinyi told Wiper party leader Mr Kalonzo Musyoka to accept that One Kenya Alliance died when ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula left to join Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

He asked Mr Kalonzo to join Azimio la Umoja without any conditions and accept any position that he will be given when the coalition forms the next government since there were many opportunities available for leaders of all constituents’ parties

Mr Wamalwa and Mr Wamunyinyi implored on Kisii County residents to vote for Prof Ongeri as their next governor since he was the best-qualified candidate to take over from Governor James Ongwae.