Orengo and Rasanga face uphill task in Siaya politics 

Siaya Senator James Orengo, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga during the consecration of Bishop David Kodia on June 4, 2017. The senator is believed to be eyeing the governor seat as Mr Rasanga completes his second and final term in 2022.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Governor Rasanga has declared intention to contest the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat.
  • Sources close to Mr Orengo say he plans to have a youthful running mate from Alego Usonga.

Siaya, the home county of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, has once again found itself in political tectonics ahead of party primaries and the General Election next year.

In 2013, the county was in the national limelight following supremacy battles between Mr Odinga’s elder brother, Dr Oburu Oginga and Mr Orengo.

The two were eyeing the Senate position before the party brokered a truce between them. Dr Oginga was prevailed upon by party officials to go for the governor seat. 

However, he was later disqualified alongside businessman William Oduol following a disputed nomination. ODM then handed the governor ticket to Mr Cornel Rasanga.

There was almost no dispute in the Senate race in 2017 as Mr Orengo sought re-election. Mr Rasanga, however, faced stiff challenge from former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.

Political temperatures have been rising in recent months, with Mr Orengo now eyeing the governor seat as Dr Oginga focuses on the Senate.

Governor Rasanga has declared intention to contest the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat where he is expected to face Mr Oduol, incumbent Samuel Atandi and Dr Nicholas Kut.

Whereas Dr Oginga’s position is not disputed as much, Mr Orengo and Mr Rasanga face an uphill task in their new quests.

Although the senator says he will make public his 2022 ambitions soon, the Nation has reliably learnt that Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has been persuaded not to run for governor in favour of Mr Orengo.

The senator allies and friends have been campaigning for him. 

Endorsed Mr Orengo

Just last week, Mr Rasanga let the cat out of the bag when he endorsed Mr Orengo.

“I support Senator Orengo for governor,” Mr Rasanga said during an event at his Segere home in which he claimed to have received defectors from Wiper party to ODM.

But in a strange twist, Mr Orengo would later endorse Mr Atandi for the Alego Usonga seat.

Sources in ODM say the governor was seeking to ride on the Orengo-Oburu-Rasanga line-up to win the Alego Usonga seat.

The plan, it is said, has attracted much criticism with party insiders saying Mr Rasanga is likely to be the biggest loser.

“The Rasanga Alego Usonga candidacy has not been received well. There are fears his running could lead to voter apathy,” an ODM source told the Nation.

Mr Atandi is confident of breaking the one-term MP jinx.

No MP has defended his seat since reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1992.

In 2013, Mr Edwin Yinda, the Mombasa-based tycoon who served as Alego Usonga MP between 2007 and 2013 lost to Wiper Party’s Omondi Mulwan despite securing an ODM ticket.

Raila's blue-eyed boy

Observers caution that the party could face the same fate should it give Mr Rasanga the ticket for the Alego Usonga contest. 

As Mr Orengo prepares to officially throw his hat in the governor race ring, he also faces accusations of a poor track record since joining politics in 1980 when he was first elected MP, at the age of 29.

He would later be re-elected in 1992, 2002 and 2007 albeit after controversial primaries where businessman Steve Mwanga claimed victory. 

In 2013, he won the ticket for the Siaya Senate position. 

The senator is fighting off claims of being Mr Odinga’s blue-eyed boy.

“ODM has not conducted any nominations and there are no preferred candidates in Siaya or elsewhere. Over the years, even the most senior ODM officials have had to go through nomination. I believe this will not change,” Mr Orengo told journalists recently.

Even if he gets the nomination, Mr Orengo could still face numerous challenges.

Critics in Siaya accuse the senior counsel of cutting the image of a “classy“ politician who frequently lands for rallies in helicopters. 

His opponents — Mr Gumbo and former National Police Spokesperson Charles Owino —are keen at connecting with ordinary people to tilt the scales in their favour.

Mr Wandayi’s withdrawal from the governor contest may not help Mr Orengo much, according to local analysts.

Roots in Alego

They say supporting Mr Orengo may destroy the Ugunja lawmaker’s dreams of becoming governor as the two hail from the Greater Ugenya — Ugunja and Ugenya constituencies.

“At the end of Mr Orengo’s term, Siaya residents will want the position to be taken by a person from another region like Bondo, Rarieda or Gem,” Mr Anthony Oduor, a Siaya political pundit, said. 

Ugenya MP David Ochieng of the Movement for Democracy and Growth is also not keen on throwing his weight behind Mr Orengo.

Since Mr Owino also comes from the same constituency, it is likely to affect Mr Orengo’s votes.

Mr Owino also has roots in Alego Usonga and is likely to get many votes from there.

Sources close to Mr Orengo say he plans to have a youthful running mate from Alego Usonga.

He is said to be eyeing Dr Kevin Osuri, the former chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, Nyanza branch.

Mr Orengo is also said not to be keen on backing the brother of former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, Jalang’o Midiwo, due to his association with incumbent Elisha Odhiambo. (Jakoyo Midiwo died in June this year).

This could affect his votes from the constituency which Mr Midiwo rallied behind Mr Gumbo in 2013.


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