Tomorrow, May 16, is a key date in this year’s election calendar. It is the deadline given by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to the political parties to present the names of their presidential and gubernatorial aspirants and their running mates.
This marks a major milestone in the road to the official campaign period and consequently a transition election on August 9 for the presidency and a number of counties where the incumbents are barred from seeking re-election.
The focus has been almost entirely on the two main coalitions, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance of Deputy President William Ruto and the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, whose flag bearer is ODM party leader Raila Odinga.
There are some fringe presidential aspirants, with nearly 50 having enlisted as independents. They may not have much impact but they are exercising their democratic right to offer themselves for election and spice up the race.
It is a pity that there has not been as much excitement and scrutiny over the gubernatorial races. Unlike the presidential aspirants, who have left it until this late to name their running mates, many of the aspiring governors have already picked their would-be deputies.
For Deputy President Ruto and ODM chief Odinga, the process has not been easy, with wrangles being witnessed. It is crucial that the most competent running mates are picked. After all, the deputy is only a heartbeat away from the presidency or governorship. In case of death, resignation or ejection from office, the deputy governor completes the remaining term of his or her boss.
A number of factors have come into play, including the need for ethnic or regional balance or gender equity. However, the choice of running mates must never be tied to personal whims or selfish interest. It should not be meek or incompetent people, whose only credential is loyalty to the main ticket holder. They must be chosen wisely. This is a decision that must be given the serious attention that it deserves.