The battle for the Kisumu governor seat is largely set to be a rematch between incumbent Anyang’ Nyong’o and his predecessor Jack Ranguma.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) records show that, Prof Nyong’o got 252,490 votes, which translated to 63 per cent, against Mr Ranguma’s 141,320.
Kisumu Senator Fred Outa and former Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, who played critical roles in delivering the win for Prof Nyong’o, fell out with him. Switching their allegiance to Mr Ranguma, the two accused him of bad governance and failing to deliver on his mandate.
Buoyed by the support of the two contenders who dropped their bid in his favour, Mr Ranguma, who hails from the vote-rich Kano clan, is hoping to recapture the seat.
Former East African Community Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura was the candidate proposed to face Prof Nyong’o for the ODM ticket in party primaries among the four. According to their strategy, Mr Ranguma was to be fronted as the plan B candidate should they be shortchanged in the nominations.
After ODM issued a direct ticket to Prof Nyong’o, Mr Ranguma secured a Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket.
However, Mr Obura’s decision to throw his hat into the ring on an independent ticket could scuttle the foursome’s plans to edge out Prof Nyong’o.
Among others, Mr Obura has said that he will focus on empowering boda boda operators and jua kali traders as well as resettling hawkers and small-scale traders who were displaced in the expansion of the port and rehabilitation of the railway.
“Prof Nyong’o cannot win the race when we get to the ballot. He will hardly get 20 per cent owing to his poor development record for the five years that he has been at the helm,” Mr Obura said on March 31, a few weeks to the Kisumu ODM April 19 nominations.
However, since the party gave Prof Nyong’o the ticket, Mr Obura kept a low profile. He did not publicly declare his next course of action, only for his name to be among those gazetted as independent candidates.
Since both Mr Obura and Mr Ranguma hail from the Kano clan that straddles Nyando, Muhoroni and Kisumu East sub-counties, this could split the vote and hand the incumbent an easy win.
According to the 2017 IEBC list of registered voters, the three constituencies account for almost half of the total number of voters in the county.
Kisumu Central leads with a total of 120,023 registered voters, followed by Kisumu East (81,538), Kisumu West (74,439), Nyando (71,680), Muhoroni (69,091), Nyakach (68,884) and Seme with 53,555 registered voters.
While Prof Nyong’o is disadvantaged by hailing from Seme Constituency, the county boss is hoping to ride on the work he has done during his first term in office.
The governor has retained his current deputy, Dr Mathews Owili from Nyakach to finish the race and complete the multiple projects that they started together.
The governor has reiterated his commitment to deliver all the promises he made in 2017 as he pointed out that his administration has implemented more than 90 per cent of the pledges he made in his manifesto.
His biggest achievement remains presiding over the beautification of the central business district that has received the admiration of both residents and visitors to the lakeside city.
However, his critics accuse him of concentrating his effort in the city centre and inhumanly demolishing thousands of structures and destroying the livelihoods of small-scale traders without giving them tangible options, a claim Prof Nyong’o has dismissed.
“I want to debunk claims by some of our critics that we’re only concentrating on development projects in Kisumu City while ignoring the rural areas,” he said during a recent event.
He added that he had rolled out a robust development plan across the seven sub-counties.
Other than riding on the popularity of ODM, which is popular with the residents, Prof Nyong’o also enjoys the endorsement of party leader Raila Odinga, who has called on supporters in his Nyanza backyard to vote “six-piece”.
“I’ve chosen Nyong’o as my captain down here as I fight the bigger battle up there and I want you to vote him among other ODM leaders seeking different seats,” he said.
“I don’t want to be a powerless and toothless president without numbers. You must give me soldiers who will work with me in running the government,” Mr Odinga said during his visit to Kisumu last week.
While reiterating his support for Mr Odinga’s presidential bid, Mr Outa has dismissed the six-piece voting calls, saying that voters should be given an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.
“We have greased Raila’s coat and no aspirant will be able to hang on it because it is slippery. We don’t want to witness voter apathy among our people,” Mr Outa said during a press briefing.
While they promised to mount a massive campaign in favour of their candidate, the Ranguma candidacy is yet to be felt beyond the press conferences and boardroom meetings.
Mr Outa and Mr Ranguma have accused Prof Nyong’o’s administration of failing to explore Kisumu’s immense opportunities and stifling the rights of small-scale traders.
According to Mr Ranguma, the healthcare system has also failed under the leadership of Prof Nyong'o, with lack of essential drugs and perennial strikes by medical workers becoming the hallmark of his administration.
To broaden his chances of winning, Mr Ranguma has picked Tom Nalo from Kisumu West as his deputy. Unlike in 2017, he is facing a herculean task traversing the expansive county compared to his two rivals, who are financially advantaged.
However, slightly over two months to the August 9 polls, Prof Nyong’o and Mr Ranguma candidates are yet to make their manifestos public, and their political activities have been low-key.
TOMORROW: Kericho County, where UDA candidate Eric Mutai is one step away from succeeding two-term Prof Paul Chepkwony