The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) holds its eagerly awaited primaries at the traditional stronghold of Nyanza tomorrow, with eyes on the four governors and key allies of party leader Raila Odinga.
Governors Okoth Obado (Migori), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) wrapped up their campaigns Saturday, amid a backdrop of rising tension, sporadic violence and allegations of pre-poll rigging.
For the governors, the outcome of Monday’s nominations will determine whether or not they return to their cozy offices after August 8. Stakes are high as their challengers use every campaign tack to send them home.
Eyes are also on Raila’s key men in Nyanza — ODM National Chairman and Suba MP John Mbadi, Director of Political Affairs and Ugunja MP, Opiyo Wandayi, head of campaigns and Suna East MP, Junet Mohamed and Raila’s elder brother and nominated MP Oburu Oginga.
ODM MP Omar Mwinyi arrested
They are facing stiff challenge in Monday’s nominations and observers say their return to the august House is not guaranteed. Mbadi faces Raila’s former Chief of Staff when he served as Prime Minister Caroli Omondi.
Wandayi is facing Joseph Alur Otieno and Fredrick Owino while Junet has been put on his toes by former area MP, John Pesa.
Raila’s brother Oburu wants to unseat Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda who succeeded him in 2013.
Only Siaya senator James Orengo, a key member of the ODM and the National Super Alliance may find it easy since he is facing two new comers- Margaret Oketch and Clement gem Argwings Kodhek.
As the D-Day approaches, the Nyanza governors have been exuding confidence after past opinion polls showed they were likely to beat their opponents in tomorrow’s primaries.
In Homa Bay, Governor Awiti is facing Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, businessman Sammy Wakiaga, former student leader Ochieng’ Kanyadudi and consultant Enos Bolo.
Awiti Saturday said he had concluded his campaigns and will spend the better part of Sunday attending church and meeting agents.
“The people of Homa Bay have assured me they are giving a second term starting with tomorrow’s nominations,” said Mr Awiti.
He went on: “I am confident of winning the nominations. I have done a lot to the people in my first term and they want me to complete my two terms.”
His opponents have been poking holes in his leadership, with claims he has not fought corruption in his government.
Awiti has dismissed such allegations saying they are baseless.
“They have no proof on those allegations of corruption, they are using such allegations to seek sympathy from the people and I am glad voters in Homa Bay are also tired of such propaganda,” said Awiti.
In Migori, Obado is facing an uphill task, as he campaigns to retain his seat.
The violence that has rocked his county in the past one month, has affected his campaigns.
The Governor has for the second time been summoned to the Orange Party headquarters over the spate of violence.
Early this month, Obado was fined Sh2million by the party, over his alleged role in the violence that left several people injured in Migori town.
The party summoned him for the second time on Friday, following violence in Rongo early this week. Obado is facing it off with former cabinet minister Ochilo Ayacko, Mrs Ann Anyang’a and Paul Odola.
In Kisumu, Governor Ranguma is facing stiff competition from his opponents in the race for the ODM ticket.
His opponents include Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, surveying and mapping consultant Prof Gordon Wayumba, businessman Hezron McObewa and architect Chris Ondiek.
The county’s nominations appear to be hanging in the balance on Saturday after the Political Parties Tribunal disbanded the County Elections Board after a petition by two voters.
The ODM was ordered to constitute a new board whose members must hail from outside the County.
The tribunal gave the ruling late on Friday after hearing a petition by two voters who claimed some members of the board were related to certain aspirants.
Meanwhile, security officials in Kisumu and aspirants for various seats appealed to those in the race to urge their supporters to maintain peace during the Monday nominations.
Led by governor Ranguma and County Commissioner Mohammed Maalim, the leaders called for last minute peaceful co-existence ahead of the primaries.
Maalim cautioned aspirants against inciting the youth to violence.
He stated that those who will be found liable for acts of hooliganism will meet the full force of the law.
“We are not going to apply the law selectively. We will ensure that each one of you is accorded maximum security but even so you must also cooperate with us,” the Commissioner said.
In its efforts to maintain peaceful co existence, the County security managed to bring Ranguma and his rivals to the table for the sake of peace.
They were Dr Hezron Mac Obewa, Christopher Ondiek and Prof Gordon Wayumba.
Kisumu Senator Nyong’o was the only one absent as he was held up in Nairobi.
Each of the leaders were given time to speak on unity and peace and they all pledged to maintain peace.
Kisumu Deputy governor Ruth Odinga has also been calling for peaceful campaigns.