In the 2013 General Election, voters in Alego-Usonga Constituency resoundingly defied calls for a ‘six-piece’ voting style by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
For their MP, the locals voted for the incumbent, Mr Omondi Muluan, who had earlier defected to Wiper Party after being short-changed in the ODM primaries.
The trend seems to be repeating itself in the run-up to the 2017 General Election.
Mr Muluan, who ‘returned home’ (to ODM) and took part in the primaries, yet again lost, this time around to Mr Samuel Atandi.
The MP is now gunning for the seat as an independent candidate, alongside his fellow independent, Mr Odunga Mamba.
Also in the race are nominated Siaya MCA Rosemary Ogutu (Ford Kenya) and Mrs Macillista Oudia of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), making Alego-Usonga the only constituency in Siaya County with women candidates for the MP’s seat.
Mr Muluan claims that he was rigged out in the nomination, arguing he was overwhelmingly supported by the Kakan and Karuoth clans, which are the dominant clans in the constituency and whose support made him the winner.
Mr Muluan is now confronted by the same ogre he slew in 2013 – the ‘six-piece’ vote being advocated by ODM diehards including its candidate, Mr Atandi.
‘Six-piece’ refers to the party loyalists calls to voters to elect its candidate in all the six elective positions – MCA, MP, woman representative, senator, governor and president
He is now rallying the voters to re-elect him on the basis of his development record and not because of party loyalty.
“I have a passion to transform the lives of Alego-Usonga residents and uplift their living standards; this is because I am a selfless leader who puts the residents’ interest before his own, we should elect a leader based on their development track record and not because he belongs to a particular party,” Mr Muluan said.
He lists a number of projects as his key achievements. These include construction of a Sh22.5 million ultramodern CDF Office, full scholarship for bright and needy students who attain 350 marks and above in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations.
He also boasts of having rehabilitated dilapidated schools, distributed CDF bursaries, set up new secondary schools, empowered youths and women through entrepreneurship training, built three seed and fertilizer stores and purchased three mobile clinics, among other achievements.
But Mr Atandi denies the rigging claims, insisting he fairly won in the nomination conducted last month. He exudes confidence he would win again on August 8.
“I am loyal to ODM and Nasa, we should only elect ODM members who are loyal to Mr Odinga and not the independent candidates who will not abide by the rules of the party,” he said.
Alego-Usonga has over 102,000 registered voters according to the electoral commission.
The huge number is because it hosts the populous Siaya town , the county headquarters, which lends it a somewhat cosmopolitan mien.
Issues of clanism, gender and economic empowerment have a definite bearing in the race and are expected to influence the vote outcome.
The constituency has a number of clans including Kakan, Karuoth, Mr Muluan’s clan, and the Kaluo, Kanyinek, Kalkada, Kager, Kadenge and Karapul, among others.
All the five candidates, including the incumbent, have exuded confidence of emerging victorious in the August 8 elections with each promising to transform lives of the residents.
The candidates, led by Mr Muluan, who had just defected from Wiper party, on whose ticket he was elected to Parliament in 2013, participated in the nomination, which saw Mr Atandi announced the winner and awarded the ODM certificate.
Mr Odunga, while fighting calls for the now infamous “six-piece” said the constituency would lag behind in development if the leaders were elected based on their political parties and not their performance.
He argued that such calls would lead to voter apathy as the supporters of non-ODM candidates would feel discriminated against by the National Super Alliance.
He asked Alego-Usonga residents to make a conscious decision in the August 8 election and vote for responsible leaders.
He asked them to vote for Raila Odinga as president and vet the development capabilities of the other leaders.
The aspirant also doubted the loyalty of the ODM candidate to both the party and Mr Odinga, saying a number of the candidates have in the past ended up betraying him once elected to Parliament.
“I have known Raila for a long time; I have been loyal to him all along compared to some of these aspirants. I am the only person who cannot be influenced by anyone or anything to betray Raila.
“It is high time only loyal leaders were elected and simply not members of ODM,” Mr Odunga said.
Mrs Oudia, who was recently elected the Siaya county Jubilee chairperson, has since defected to CCM party, a Nasa affiliated political party, which resonates more with the local voters.
The candidate says that she lost property worth millions of shillings in the run-up to the 2013 General Election, when angry youths attacked her home because she was contesting on a Jubilee Party ticket.
“In 2013, my home was raided by youths who stole and vandalized my properties, I do not want to see a repeat of the same. That is why I have chosen CCM, which is a Nasa-friendly party ,” Mrs Oudia said.
Ms Ogutu of Ford Kenya, too, has vowed to give both the incumbent Mr Muluan and ODM nominee Mr Atandi a run for their money.
She said she Is determined to make the presence of ‘Ford Kenya’ – also a Nasa affiliated party, felt in the constituency.
Mrs Ogutu pledged to surprise her critics who believe that no woman is capable of leading, insisting that she would make history by becoming the first woman MP for Alego-Usonga.
Her campaigns revolve around issues of women and youth empowerment and education, which she says has been neglected by the incumbent and her opponents.
“I will make education a priority. This is through even distribution of education bursaries to all needy students in the constituency, I think the MP has not done a good job and he should not be re-elected,” she said.
She further castigated the MP for initiating development projects that do not reflect with the needs and requirements of the electorate.
“I cannot deny that Muluan has done a tremendous job, but he has poor leadership skills.
“He is not in touch with the electorate since most of the development projects he has initiated were done without consulting the residents.”