The bare-knuckle battle for Kisumu governorship has divided the local elders with questions being raised over their loyalty and integrity.
The elders have in the past few days endorsed the two main candidates in the race: Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o of ODM and incumbent Jack Ranguma, who is vying on an independent ticket.
Last week, elders from Seme, Prof Nyong’o’s backyard, met at Wang’arot in West Seme Ward and backed Mr Ranguma.
Led by their secretary Hezekiah Ochillo and coordinator Oketch Orero, they said Mr Ranguma deserved re-election for his “good performance in the first term”.
The declaration came hot on the heels of another by Mr Ranguma’s Kano clan elders who endorsed Prof Nyong’o at Royal City Hotel in Kisumu.
Kano Luo council of elders’ chairman Odungi Randa and members Rose Ochieng’ and Charles Ondere asked Mr Ranguma to retire “peacefully” and allow Prof Nyong’o to improve the status of the county.
The endorsement of Mr Ranguma in Seme was seen as a bid to neutralise the backing of Prof Nyong’o earlier by the Kano elders.
On Thursday, the Seme community, elders and professionals came out strongly to declare their support for their son Prof Nyong’o at the historic Kit Mikayi and trashed reports of having backed Mr Ranguma last week.
The elders and professionals drawn from the four wards and 27 sub-locations in Seme Sub-County said the choice of the site will ensure prosperity in the senator’s quest.
Speaking at the foot of the 40-metre-high rock, Mr Elijah Adul described Prof Nyong’o as “the architect of devolution” who can turn around the economy of Kisumu.
“I want to condemn a few misguided elders who have been purporting that Seme people are behind Governor Ranguma,” Mr Adul said.
“The truth is that those elders have been paid and simply serving their paymasters.”
Mr Joram Amollo Gumba said the Kit Mikayi declaration involved the two clans in the constituency — Kagumba and Kadipir.
“We are here to cleanse claims by a handful of elders serving selfish interests that the community supports Ranguma,” Mr Gumba said.
“This is our source of pride and blessing and the resolution made here is binding on our community — that we will back Prof Nyong’o.”
Ms Mary Abor said Prof Nyong’o “deserves our support because he has the ODM ticket and is able to move Kisumu to the next level.”
“We cannot vote for independent candidates because they are like vehicles without number plates, hence not safe for us,” Ms Abor said.
North Seme Ward MCA James Diang’a said Prof Nyong’o remains the choice of the community and he will “ensure he is elected the second Governor of Kisumu”.
Mr Daudi Kisero said: “We will not allow outsiders to decide for us our political move. We want change in Kisumu and that change is none other than Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.”
Speaking separately by phone to the Nation, Luo Council of Elders chairman Ker Willis Otondi said they were mulling an urgent meeting to thrash out differences among elders.
“We are supposed to offer advisory services to the people and give direction.
“It is not right to speak in different voices as a community,” Mr Otondi said.
The other gubernatorial candidates seeking to rally the county’s 539,210 voters behind them are Ms Atieno Otieno (Jubilee Party), Mr Peter Omollo (ANC) and Mr David Wayiera (Alternative Party of Kenya).