Focus on Nyamira: Nyaribo fights to retain seat in race dominated by clan politics

2022 Nyamira Governor Aspirants

From left: Governor Amos Nyaribo (UPA), MP Timothy Bosire (ODM) and Walter Nyambati (Jubilee Party).

The race for Nyamira governor has attracted a crowded field of nine aspirants, including five former MPs.

History is bound to repeat itself as Kitutu Masaba has once again fielded a large number of aspirants, one of the reasons why all of candidates from the area have lost to their opponents in the past, despite the constituency being the most populous.

At the moment, four of the nine contestants are from Kitutu Masaba.

Governor Amos Nyaribo, who took over following John Nyagarama’s death in 2020, will be defending the seat on a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ticket.

Others in the race include Ben Momanyi (Wiper), Walter Nyambati (United Democratic Alliance), Timothy Bosire (Orange Democratic Movement), Reuben Marwanga (Kanu), James Kemoni (Democratic Party), Mwancha Okioma (Jubilee), Joseph Kiangoi (Amani National Congress) and Henry Ongeri (Democratic Congress Party).

Clan politics, money, individual aspirants’ campaign strategies and party dynamics will be the key factors that will influence the election outcome.

In 2017, a total of 203,438 votes out of 278, 853 were cast. Kitutu Masaba had 93,246 registered voters, West Mugirango (76,392), North Mugirango (54,306) and Borabu (54,909).

There were nine contestants in the race, with Kitutu Masaba having the largest number. Nyagarama won with 63,949 votes, followed by Mr Nyambati who garnered 57,432 votes.

Nyamira County borders Kisii, Homa Bay, Kericho and Bomet counties and has 20 wards.

There are two dominant clans —Abagirango found mostly in North and West Mugirango, and Abagetutu of Masaba. The Abagirango have dominated the county leadership since the launch of the 2010 Constitution.

Mr Nyaribo, who comes from North Mugirango constituency and is a member of the Bogirango clan, is keen to retain his seat. In the last few months, he has focused on development projects, which, he believes, will determine his re-election. His running mate is Dr James Gesami, a former West Mugirango MP from the Bogichora sub-clan.

The governor is the UPA leader, a party associated with ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition. The new political outfit is a threat to the bigger parties like ODM, Wiper, Jubilee and UDA in the county.

“Moving forward, through the UPA party, I [will] endeavour to offer solutions to the socio-economic problems facing Nyamira County,” he said.

Mr Nyaribo has been working closely with the national government and has become a close ally of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who is from the county. The CS has been working politically behind the scenes and just like in the 2017 elections, he’s playing a big role in both county and national politics.

In Nyamira, the CS and Mr Nyaribo have been working hard to see Nyamira benefit from mega projects, among them the Sh77 billion agro-industrial park in Sironga, Kiandege Airstrip, Nyamira Green Stadium and upgrade of the Keroka and Ekerenyo hospitals.

Mr Momanyi—the outgoing Borabu MP—comes from the Bogirango clan and has chosen Tom Mokua Otuto as his running mate.

The lawmaker says he has performed well in his two terms as an MP and hopes to use the experience to run county affairs.

“We need proper management and prudent use of resources in our county. All our people want is development,” Mr Momanyi said. The MP has been facing much criticism from Mr Nyaribo.

Mr Kiangoi is a one-time North Mugirango and East African Legislative Assembly MP. He, too, comes from the Bogirango clan. His running mate, Mr Julius Mokogi, is also from West Mugirango.

In the last elections, he vied for the Nyamira Senate seat on a Jubilee ticket and came third with 44,711 votes.

Moneyed doctor

Prof Marwanga and Mr Kemoni come from West Mugirango, while Mr Nyambati, Mr Okioma, Mr Ongeri and Mr Bosire come from Kitutu Masaba constituency.

Mr Nyambati is a former Kitutu Masaba MP and is from the Bogetutu clan. He has chosen Dr Erneo Nyakiba, a moneyed doctor from West Mugirango’s populous Bogichora clan, as his running mate.

He is the first aspirant in Nyamira to run web-based campaigns. Together with Dr Nyakiba, they unveiled their campaign website last month, which, they said, will be targeting the youth bloc, which constitutes the majority.

Mr Bosire is a one-term MP and currently the ODM national treasurer. He comes from the Bogetutu clan and his running mate is Charles Rigoro from the Bogirango clan.

When launching his govenorship bid at Viongozi Pastoral Centre, Mr Bosire said he will ensure accountability in his administration. He noted that while many counties have made strides in devolution, Nyamira has remained stagnant.

He said that Nyamira needs both a charismatic and transformative leader to catapult the county to a new era and level of development.

Injecting fresh blood

“Under my administration, the health sector infrastructure will be upgraded. Health facilities will be stocked with drugs and equipment. The very old people with no source of income will be assisted to be members of the National Health Insurance Fund. ‘Bosirecare’ will be started and made to work in Nyamira,” he said.

He added that deep-rooted corruption is among the issues he will deal with once elected.

Dr Okioma is a former Kitutu Masaba MP and came fourth in the governorship race in 2013 and fourth in 2017. His running mate is Dr Charles Nyandusi.

Mr Ongeri, a lawyer based in the United States, and Mr Kemoni, are campaigning on the platform of injecting fresh blood into Nyamira politics. Mr Ongeri comes from Kitutu Masaba.

Keen on dynamism

Both Mr Kemoni and Mr Ongeri say Nyamira has had too many familiar faces running the show for too long and contends that it’s time for fresh and younger blood to take over the leadership of the county.

“Management needs new ideas, which the old guard cannot churn out. They are the mirror of the desperation apparent in every corner of the region,” Mr Ongeri said.

The two say they are keen on dynamism, revolutionary thinking, and a break from the old thinking that has dominated the county’s politics.

MONDAY: The battle in Nandi, where Governor Stephen Sang faces stiff competition as he seeks a second term


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