Hamadi Idi Boga, the ODM candidate for Kwale governor, has dropped his running mate under unclear circumstances.
Prof Boga, a former Agriculture principal secretary who had picked his Correctional Services counterpart Safina Kwekwe as his deputy, has now appointed Nurrein Mwatsahu.
Mr Mwatsahu is a former chief officer in Governor Salim Mvurya’s administration.
She worked closely with Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani, who is now the United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) candidate for governor.
Sources close to ODM said Ms Kwekwe had resigned his government job but was not given a release letter, prompting her to continue serving as PS.
Prof Boga then started talks with other ODM leaders about finding a new running mate.
Speaking to the Nation, ODM Kwale secretary-general James Nyatiki confirmed the news, saying that the decision came after Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga visited Kwale last week.
“We found out that she had actually resigned but then was given an extension and assigned to oversee the reforms in the prisons after President Uhuru Kenyatta did a reshuffle in the department,” said Mr Nyatiki.
He added that Mr Odinga advised Prof Boga to pick an alternative running mate.
“In fact, Mr Odinga said that it is okay for her to maintain her position so that she will still be among the people from Kwale who will be appointed in the government if Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance wins the elections later this year,” he said.
Prof Boga will now have to rebrand himself and his campaign materials as his campaign’s slogan was 'Bogasafi'.
The selection of running mates in Kwale County is supposed to influence voters from the dominant communities.
For instance, Prof Boga is a Digo and Mr Mwatsahu hails from Mwavumbo ward in Kinango, where the Duruma are the majority. This is expected to help him garner more votes from the region.
Neither Prof Boga nor Ms Kwekwe responded to calls or messages seeking comment on the new development.
The Nation has learnt that Mr Nurrein, who had earlier expressed his interest in vying for the governor’s seat, stepped down early last year to support Mr Mvurya, who is campaigning for his deputy, Ms Achani.
The race is taking new turns every day. Most of the aspirants have named their running mates, and male aspirants selected females as their deputies.
Six candidates are eyeing the seat as Mr Mvurya, now a UDA party principal, completes his second and last term.
Besides Prof Boga and Ms Achani, others are former Cabinet minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Wiper), Kwale County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa (independent) and businessman Gereza Dena (Kanu).