The Kisumu governorship race has taken a new twist after four aspirants dramatically pulled out and resolved to back one of them to face the incumbent Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.
Senator Fred Outa, former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, former Kisumu Speaker Onyango Oloo and Mr Ken Obura said they will announce in the next two weeks who among them will be the candidate.
While they are keeping their cards close to their chest, sources close to them indicated they had settled on Mr Obura, now the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of East African Community.
They said their decision was influenced by Mr Obura’s age, campaign war chest and ability to mobilise as young people.
The source said the aspirants were waiting for Mr Obura’s resignation as state officer on February 9 before they could make the final announcement.
The resolution was announced by Mr Oloo outside Imperial Hotel in Kisumu after a five-hour, closed-door meeting attended by other former allies of Governor Nyongó, including Mr Richard Ogendo, former Planning executive Patrick Ouya and Mr Ogendo Biggy, an aspirant for the Nyando parliamentary seat.
“Your prayer to have us produce one candidate who will restore the lost glory of Kisumu, allow our people to trade and overthrow Prof Nyong’o has been answered. We have agreed on one candidate who will be announced in the next two weeks,” said Mr Oloo as a crowd chanted the names of their preferred candidate.
He stressed that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party must ensure it carries out free and fair primary elections.
“In the event that ODM does not carry out a credible nomination, we are prepared to fight it out at the ballot with Governor Nyong’o,” said Mr Oloo.
They dismissed reports that ODM had a preferred candidate for the governor’s seat.
“There is no ODM line-up and nobody will get a direct ticket since we are ready to battle it out at the primaries squarely. Those peddling such reports are only creating apathy among our people not to register as voters,” said Mr Oloo.
Divisions among aspirants
While the governor had been riding on the divisions among the aspirants – mostly from the larger Kano clan in Nyando, Muhoroni, Kisumu East and Nyakach – their decision to work together and mount a strong campaign against the incumbent may just complicate matters for Mr Nyong’o.
It is becoming a major headache for the governor to find new allies after falling out with almost all close members of the famous ‘Team Kali’ in 2017, which played a major role in propelling him to the county’s top seat.
The four aspirants accused the governor of not fulfilling the promises he made and evicting traders.
Mr Obura said ODM leader Raila Odinga needs the likes of Governor Nyong'o at the national level if he clinches the presidency.
“The governor and his supporters usually say that Raila needs him. We now want to release him officially to go help Baba at the national level,” said Mr Obura.
Look beyond 2022
Mr Ranguma said residents should be looking beyond 2022.
"We want a situation where whoever is chosen by the people is the one allowed to work,” he said.
“We are all capable of leading. I have done this before and anyone else can also serve the people of Kisumu in that capacity but we are telling you that it is this route that will deliver for you."
Mr Outa said the four will walk together and ensure their team wins.
The team later walked through the streets with their supporters to a polling station, where they checked the status of voter registration.
It was not clear whether ex-deputy governor Ruth Odinga and businessman Polycarp Ocholla Kamili, who are also in the race, will decide to join the four, Prof Nyong’o or go all the way on their own to the ballot.
They vowed to comb every corner of Kisumu to ensure all unregistered voters are listed to shore up the numbers for Mr Odinga and boost his chances of being elected President.