Twists and turns in Homa Bay governor's race as ODM pushes consensus


Homa Bay gubernatorial contestant Oyugi Magwanga [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Raila Odinga’s ODM party appears to have settled the Homa Bay contest for the party ticket even before the nominations are held. Sources confided that the party headquarters intervened to avoid a clash at the primaries.

On Monday, ODM chairman John Mbadi bowed out of the race to succeed Governor Cyprian Awiti. He also announced that he will not seek any elective seat in the August elections. 

Last week, businessman Jared Kiasa dropped his bid and announced that he would direct his energy toward supporting Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign.

The source indicated that the party was rooting for Woman Rep Gladys Wanga with former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga as her running mate.

Yesterday, Mr Magwanga, who lost narrowly to Mr Awiti as an independent candidate in 2017, said he is ready to work with Ms Wanga, adding that he was waiting for official communication.

“If it is the decision of the party that we work together, there is nothing I can do but to abide by the decision of the party,” he said. 

Others who have shown interest in the party ticket are former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, former county secretary Isaiah Ogwe, businessman Louis Ogingo, Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers Secretary-General Akelo Misori and Mr Awiti’s deputy Hamilton Orata. 

With the window of party-hopping closed, aspirants who are locked out of nominations can only vie as independents.

But yesterday, Dr Kidero told his supporters to avoid speculation that ODM is planning to give a direct ticket.

Dr Kidero said he was ready for the nominations, which have been scheduled for April 18, noting that the party can only pick candidates through a direct ticket, delegates system, consensus or universal suffrage.

“The party said a direct ticket is only issued where there is one aspirant, but we are more than one in Homa Bay. Delegates system is only meant for presidency,” he said.

He argued that nobody had reached him for consensus.

“The meaning of consensus is that all aspirants should agree on what to do. If one aspirant declines, then consensus does not occur. As far as I’m concerned, nobody has reached me for consensus,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the Orange party will conduct credible nominations through universal suffrage.

Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga [Courtesy]

In 2017, Mr Magwanga fought Mr Awiti tooth and nail to garner 189,060 votes against Mr Awiti’s 210,173. Their political fight continued up to the Supreme Court.

In the contest, Mr Tom Otieno of Jubilee got 1,432 votes while Mr Mark Olang had 668 votes.

With a population of 1,131,950 according to the 2019 Census, the county comes third in the number of registered voters in Nyanza after Kisii and Kisumu, followed by Siaya, Migori and Nyamira.

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission 2017 register, Ndhiwa Constituency had 85,056 voters followed by Karachuonyo with 84,004 voters.

Kasipul had 57,344 voters, Kabondo Kasipul 49,432, Rangwe 52,516, Homa Bay Town 50,570, and Suba North and Suba South 51,454 and 46,499 voters respectively.

Mr Magwanga comes from Kasipul while Ms Wanga comes from Rangwe, as does Dr Kidero.  Mr Ogwe is from Homa Bay Town, and Mr Orata and Mr Ogingo are from Ndhiwa.

Ms Wanga launched her governorship bid last month in an event attended by Raila.

She is banking on her record as Woman Rep and chairperson of the National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning, and her popularity in the Azimio fraternity countrywide.

Her gender could also play to her advantage, since the region has not woman governor.

“My main aim is to transform Homa Bay into a devolution success story. My goal is to transform all sectors and revamp agriculture and fishing. I will also prioritise improving infrastructure,” she said