Elders give their blessings to Ngiwa parliamentary aspirant Joshua Orero at his home in Kabuoch. (Photo: James Omoro/Standard)
The Orange Democratic Movement is facing a logistic and security nightmare as it embarks on tension packed primaries that could strengthen or weaken its grip on Nyanza strongholds.
The nominations are a do-or-die affair for many big names whose political careers could be cut short if they lose the critical party ticket.
With more than 500 hopefuls scrambling for the party’s ticket and some constituencies having as many as 18 parliamentary aspirants, Nyanza will be a political battlefield starting Tuesday.
Tension is high as aspirants keep a keen eye on county and constituency elections boards, amid complaints some officials may be related to some aspirants.
Fireworks are expected in the race for governorship, with five of the six counties conducting nominations. Only Kisii’s James Ongwae has been spared the battle after he received a direct nomination for lack of a competitor.
In Nyamira, Homa Bay, Siaya, Migori and Kisumu, a fierce battle is expected as the primaries kick off on Tuesday. Governor John Nyangarama is facing it off with two medics — out-going West Mugirango MP Dr James Gesami and Dr John Kumenda.
“I am sure of a clean win,” Nyangarama told Sunday Standard Saturday. Dr Gesami said he was expecting free and fair nominations.
In Homa Bay, a fierce battle is expected between Governor Cyprian Awiti, who is facing a massive onslaught from Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, businessman Sammy Wakiaga, Enos Bolo and former student leader Ochieng’ Kanyadudi.
Pockets of violence have been reported in the county during the campaign period and area Police commander John Omusanga said they have mobilised platoons to maintain peace.
Magwanga and Wakiaga said would send Awiti home, but the governor exuded confidence he will retain his seat. “I have done enough campaigns. Furthermore, opinion polls have put me ahead by a big margin,” Awiti said.
In Migori, police and party officials were dealing with a delicate situation ahead of the primaries. The county is still smarting from chaos that saw several people, including a bodyguard to Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, injured after violence broke out at a rally.
Governor Okoth Obado has been fined Sh2 million and ordered to tender an apology after the ODM disciplinary committee linked him to the chaos. “I am in ODM to stay. Although I am not happy with the verdict of the ODM disciplinary committee, I will fight from within to get the ticket,” Obado said
The aftermath of the chaos and the bad blood between Obado and his main opponent, former Minister and Rongo MP Ochilo Ayacko, is expected to light up the nominations. Also in the race is Ann Omodho Anyanga, the wife to Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga.
Obado is also not in good terms with Suna East MP and ODM director of elections, Junet Mohamed.
ODM elections officials are also worried about Kisumu and Siaya where stakes are high.
Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma is plotting toward off stiff competition from Senator Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, businessman Hezron McObewa, Geospatial expert Gordon Wayumba and Architect Chris Ondiek.
Siaya County is also bubbling with tension and anxiety. Governor Rasanga was this week wrapping up his campaigns as he struggled to ward off stiff contest from Rareida MP Nicholas Gumbo and businessman William Oduol, who nearly defeated him in the 2013 polls, and former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege.
The toughest showdown is expected on Friday and Monday April 24 when the Nyanza’s political hotbeds of Homa Bay, Migori, Kisumu and Siaya go to the polls.
In Suba, ODM National Chairman John Mbadi is facing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Chief of Staff Caroli Omondi. Omondi has protested the composition of the constituency elections board members who he claimed were allied to Mbadi.
A record 192 aspirants will be lining up for parliamentary tickets from the region’s 42 constituencies. Karachuonyo Parliamentary seat has attracted a record 18 aspirants, the highest number since independence. They are all jostling to replace incumbent James Kwanya Rege who recently defected to Jubilee and has remained silent over whether he will defend his seat.
His name is missing from the lists gazetted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Besides Ongwae, Prof Sam Ongeri, who is vying for the Kisii Senate seat, Homa Bay Woman MP Gladys Wanga and Kitutu Masaba legislator and ODM Treasurer Timothy Bosire have landed direct nominations. Others are North Mugirango MP Charles Geni, Nyamira Woman MP Alice Chae and nominated Senator and Kisii Women MP aspirant Janet Ongera.
ODM National Elections Board Chairperson Judy Pareno has called for peace, saying the primaries will be free and fair.