Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s resounding victory in the August 8 General Election has been attributed to his scrupulous campaign strategy, which marketed his development record.
Governor Oparanya was declared the winner by the electoral commission’s Kakamega County returning officer Grace Rono after he garnered 387,999 votes.
His main challenger, outgoing Senator Boni Khalwale, came a distant second with 134,999 votes.
The other contestants were Mr Michael Osundwa Sakwa of Amani National Congress (ANC), Ms Mabel Muruli (Jubilee Party), Mr Josphat Konzolo Milimu (UDP), Kanu’s retired major Suleiman Kanyanya Sumba and independent candidate Robinson Opati Abuyeka.
Ms Muruli was third with 14,323 votes, followed by Mr Osundwa (8,652) and Mr Sumba (3,643).
Governor Oparanya is expected to be sworn in for a second term on Monday.
However, Dr Khalwale has disputed the results, alleging rigging in favour of the incumbent.
The senator blamed his loss on alleged irregularities that he claimed were noted by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials.
Dr Khalwale’s aide, Mr Polycarp Muchome, said they “detected anomalies” relating to counting and tallying of votes at some polling stations and so planned to challenge the results in court.
The senator’s supporters, who had bubbled with confidence during the campaigns, are inconsolable.
They said victory for Dr Khalwale would have ushered in a new beginning for the county.
“We are compiling the evidence before deciding on the cause of action,” Mr Muchome said.
Mr Oparanya had traversed the 12 sub-counties selling his self-proclaimed good performance in the past four and a half years.
However, campaigns by his challengers revolved on pledges to tackle alleged corrupt dealings involving county officials and ensure equitable allocation of resources to all parts of the region.
Mr Milimu and Mr Abuyeka did not show up for campaigns.
The former planning minister focused his re-election bid on his administration’s achievements since he was elected in 2013.
Mr Musa Chibole, a political adviser of Mr Oparanya’s, said the governor carefully planned his campaign forays by identifying his strongholds and mapping out regions perceived as supporting his opponents.
“We carefully identified the issues shaping campaigns in the county and crafted a strategy for the governor to address them while engaging with voters to win their support,” Mr Chibole said.
Mr Oparanya took advantage of incumbency to eclipse his competitors by enumerating projects he had initiated in different parts of the county.
These included tarmacking of 10 kilometres of roads in each of the 60 wards for Sh126 million, construction of markets in each sub-county and lighting up of streets in Kakamega, Mumias and Butere towns and also townships in the county.
Other key projects included construction and rehabilitation of sub-county hospitals and health centres.
The county government is also constructing a referral and teaching hospital and renovating Bukhungu Stadium to international standards.
“For us, the projects — including roads, hospitals, early childhood development centres and markets — are there for the voters to see and that worked in our favour,” Mr Chibole said.
Dr Lucy Mandila, a literature lecturer at Masinde Muliro University, said Mr Oparanya had an easy ride to his re-election because of his development record.
“Senator Khalwale may have won the hearts and minds of ordinary boda boda operators and the mama mboga but he did not stretch his campaigns far enough to win the elite voters, who appear to have largely influenced voting patterns in the region,” Dr Mandila said.
She said some of Dr Khalwale’s supporters were fervent about his name being on the ballot as a governorship candidate but did not campaign aggressively enough to ensure he clinched the seat.
In a bid for support in Malava constituency, which had the most registered voters, Mr Oparanya, Dr Khalwale and Mr Osundwa picked their running mates from the Abakabras community.
Malava has 82,136 registered voters, followed by Lurambi with 80,037. Of these, Mr Oparanya garnered 36,240 votes, Dr Khalwale 21,386 and Ms Muruli a paltry 1,810.