Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo and his Gem counterpart Jakoyo Midiwo address residents of Sawagongo in Siaya County on April 28. The leaders lost ODM nominations and are now vying as independent candidates. [Photo: Collins Oduor, Standard]
Independent candidates in Nyanza are forming new alliances and crafting new campaign strategies as they fight for space amid sustained onslaught from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his co-principal Musalia Mudavadi early this week claimed independent candidates in Opposition strongholds were out to spoil the smooth run to State House.
Speaking at a rally in Bondo, Siaya County, Mudavadi told Nyanza politicians to swallow their pride and ambitions for Raila’s sake.
Raila also expressed his concerns, saying as much as the independent candidates were free to campaign for themselves, he expected Nyanza to give him ODM governors, senators, MPs and MCAs.
Set voters free
On Wednesday, the independent candidates hit back, saying they had nothing against the NASA flag-bearer and would campaign for him but he should set voters free to pick candidates of their own choice for other seats. They say the six-piece voting is undemocratic.
The independent candidates are now planning joint rallies in which they will be campaigning for each other.
They will also be building on campaign messages that support Raila’s presidential bid.
The candidates say their biggest worry is being portrayed as anti-Raila campaigners.
In Siaya County, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo has formed an alliance with governor aspirant Nicholas Gumbo and woman representative candidate Florence Aluodo plus a host of MCAs who lost in the ODM primaries.
In Kisumu, Governor Jack Ranguma says he will work with independent candidates, including Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabbir and Senate aspirant Ochola Ogoda.
In response to the heat, the ODM brigade, including a number of party nominations losers in the county, led by Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, who is vying for governor on the party’s ticket, have also formed a team dubbed “Team Kali” and have launched their campaigns.
Last week, the ODM team launched a high-profile campaign attended by thousands at Jomo Kenyatta Sports ground in Kisumu town and urged residents to ignore independent candidates to help ensure ODM remains strong in the region.
The team includes Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga, Senate aspirant Fred Outa and a host of MPs, aspirants and losers in the ODM primaries.
Party remains strong
“All independent candidates must go. The people of Kisumu will vote six-piece because that is how we can ensure the party remains strong,” said former TNA Secretary General Onyango Oloo who lost the Kisumu parliamentary seat nomination.
“We cannot take Raila up and mess up our own backyard down here. That will be an injustice to him and that is why we must vote six-piece,” said Oloo.
The NASA presidential campaign team in Nyanza, led by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and nominated MP Oburu Oginga, has opened another battlefront against independents, saying Raila will not deliver his campaign promises if he does not have a majority in the National Assembly and the Senate.
Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, who is fighting to retain his seat as an independent candidate after losing lost the ODM ticket to businessman Paul Abuor, said the six-piece voting was unworkable.
“There was a limit to ethnic support a politician can vaunt in his ethnic backyard. Raila Odinga is best advised to allow everyone to search for his or her own votes,” says Otieno, who claims he was rigged out at the nominations.
He says Raila will have plenty of MPs as independents and from other parties who he can work with.
“In 1997, as KANU, we had to seek Raila to join us because Moi did not have numbers. Raila can seek support from independent MPs too,” he said.