The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum bid might well turn out to be former Gem legislator Jakoyo Midiwo’s comeback ticket.
This is after he was handed the mantle of spearheading the signature collection drive in Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga’s Luo Nyanza stronghold.
Mr Midiwo has been out in the political cold after he lost to ODM’s Elisha Odhiambo in the parliamentary election in which he ran as an independent candidate. The fiery politician quit ODM and parted ways with Mr Odinga after he lost in the party primaries.
But lately, Mr Midiwo has been warming up to ODM and the decision by Mr Odinga to pick him for the job is politically fortuitous. It give Mr Midiwo the perfect chance to muscle his way back and reclaim the seat he lost after a 15-year stint.
Mr Odhiambo beat Mr Midiwo in a hotly contested but controversial nominations exercise in 2017, sparking a falling-out that saw him campaign against ODM candidates together with former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo. The duo fought hard against Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga.
Warming up to Raila
But as the clock ticks towards the 2022 elections, a tactful and calculative Midiwo has been warming up to Mr Odinga. When the latter sought to meet all governors from Western to strategise ahead of the collection of BBI signatures, the former Gem MP was unveiled as the Nyanza point-man in the quest by the ODM leader and President Uhuru Kenyatta to change the Constitution.
Mr Midiwo first clinched the seat in 2002 on the now-defunct Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ticket. He defended it successfully in 2007 and 2013.
Besides Gem MP, Alego-Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, and his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amolo, are also likely to face tough political battles. In Alego-Usonga, Mr William Oduol Denge — best remembered as the man who gave Governor Rasanga and ODM sleepless nights in 2013 — is back.
Mr Odinga was forced to literally pitch camp in Siaya to stop Mr Oduol’s strong wave that threatened to upend the party’s candidate. He is the man expected to complicate matters for Mr Atandi after it emerged that he will not be running for governor.
The decision is based on the fact that the incumbent and Mr Oduol come from Alego-Usonga Sub-County. Siaya County is made up of six sub-counties — Alego-Usonga, Ugunja, Ugenya, Bondo, Rarieda and Gem.
Mr Oduol said: “I will vie for any of the following three positions – senator, deputy governor or member of Parliament. I am consulting widely.”
Among those who have since declared interest in the seat is Dr Kut Ochogo, who is from the Kagan clan.
Governor Rasanga has been playing his cards close to his chest and keeping everyone guessing. His aides say the governor had initially toyed with the idea of running for senate but shelved it after it became clear that Mr Odinga’s elder brother, Dr Oburu Odinga, is also interested in the position.
Dr Oginga, a member of the East Africa Legislative Assembly, has been traversing the county to endear himself to voters. With the Senate seat being out of consideration, the governor’s focus appears to have shifted to the Alego-Usonga parliamentary seat.