Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, who is serving his first term in Parliament, having been elected in 2017, is walking a tight rope in his quest to retain the seat.
The recent declaration by Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga that he will back Mr Atandi’s opponent, University don Nicholas Kut, at the August 9 General Election, is proving to be a bitter pill to swallow for the legislator.
Mr Rasanga hails from Alego Usonga, where he holds sway by virtue of his office. He had earlier declared his interest in the parliamentary seat but was reportedly coaxed by ODM functionaries into withdrawing from the race.
“I will henceforth work tirelessly for my party leader [Raila Odinga] to ensure he gets maximum votes in Siaya so that I become part of his government at the national level,” he said.
However, to Mr Atandi’s surprise, the county chief threw his weight behind Dr Kut, apparently in protest against Siaya Senator James Orengo’s endorsement of the MP when Mr Rasanga was also eyeing the seat.
The Nation understands that Mr Rasanga was miffed by Mr Orengo, whom he had endorsed to succeed him as governor.
With the heavy machinery at Mr Rasanga’s disposal by virtue of incumbency, coupled with the influence he wields in Alego Usonga and the jinxed nature of the constituency where no MP has been re-elected consecutively since the advent of multipartyism in 1992, Mr Atandi is obviously in a tight spot.
After Mr Peter Oloo Aringo served consecutively during the Kanu one-party system, MPs who took over in the multiparty era have not been re-elected.
Ford Kenya’s Otieno Mark Onyango was elected in 1992 and replaced by Mr Aringo in 1997 (NDP), while Samuel Arthur Weya (Narc), Edwin Ochieng’ Yinda (ODM) and George Omondi Muluan (Wiper) were elected in 2002, 2007 and 2013 respectively.
Mr Weya has accused Mr Atandi of disrespecting his fellow leaders and residents as far as decision-making is concerned, thus risking his chances of re-election.
He claims Mr Atandi has been negotiating county seats to be reserved for Alego Usonga without consulting. The constituency has 110,076 voters, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
“One person cannot determine where all these votes are going. Atandi does not consult and he should not think he can negotiate for us; we have professionals and intelligent people.
“He cannot purport to be more intelligent than everybody else in Alego Usonga. We will field a good candidate to kick him out because of such disrespect,” Mr Weya told the Nation.
For South East Alego MCA Joseph Mboha, Mr Atandi is high-handed, fights area leaders, including Mr Rasanga and MCAs, and profiles certain clans like Kakan and Karuoth.
“He feels he has powers to even issue ODM certificates and does not consult area leadership,” Mr Mboha said. Mr Atandi has been promising his perceived rivals positions under the Orengo administration, should he be elected governor, “seats he has no powers to give.”
Mr Atandi has further been accused by the Kakan clan of opposing efforts by former Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Nyanza region chairman Dr Kevin Osuri to become Mr Orengo’s running mate and instead fronting former gubernatorial candidate William Oduol from the Kaugagi clan.
The Karuoth clan of Mr Rasanga has also criticised the MP for frustrating chances of county secretary Joseph Ogutu of becoming Mr Orengo’s running mate and disrespecting the governor.
But Mr Atandi laughed off the accusations, asking whether he has immense powers to decide the direction Siaya politics takes.
“Am I that big? I didn’t know I wield such Godly powers.”
But Mr Weya insisted that Alego Usonga Leadership Forum that brings together former MPs, councillors, MCAs, business persons and clerics will converge before the end of this month to give direction on constituency and county matters and cancel any purported deal by Mr Atandi.
“We have professionals in Alego, like Joe Muganda, who has been a CEO in several companies and even former Auditor-General Edward Ouko from Ugenya, who have what it takes to be governor.
“We want leaders of Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o’s calibre to be elected to ensure economic development of our county,” Mr Weya said.
He also warned Mr Orengo against overlooking leaders from Alego Usonga, saying, using one individual will hurt his chances of becoming governor.