Political temperatures have started rising in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard as his allies have turned the heat against each other in hunt for various seats ahead of the party primaries.
The infighting is so severe that aspirants have been cautioned against such catfights that risk scuttling Mr Odinga’s chances of clinching the presidency.
The battle lines have been drawn in the six Nyanza counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira Counties.
In Kisumu, Gubernatorial seat occupied by Prof Anyang' Nyong'o has drawn interests owing to the number of aspirants who have ganged up against the incumbent.
The aspirants are former Governor Jack Ranguma, East African Community (EAC) Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ken Obura who resigned yesterday and Senator Fred Outa who have teamed up with former Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, threatening to end Governor Nyong'o'a rule.
The found have vowed to front one of them against Governor Nyong'o at the ODM primaries but vowed to have another one on the ballot on a different ticket, an individual they would back should Prof Nyong’o, who is said to be the ODM's blue eyed boy bag its ticket.
"We are very wise this time round. We are going to front one of us to battle it out for the ODM ticket and have another one warm up just within Azimio framework. So in the event we lose the ODM ticket, we throw our weight behind our plan B candidate," Mr Oloo said.
In the Senate seat, nominated senator Rose Nyamunga is also facing a tough challenge from Lawyer Tom Ojienda.
Banking on her loyalty to the ODM party, Ms Nyamunga hopes to win the ticket against Prof Ojienda who is seen as a newcomer.
Focus will also be in Kisumu Town West Constituency where MP Olago Aluoch of Ford-Kenya has now joined Democratic Action Party (DAP-K) and is ready to face off with ODM candidate in the August 9 elections.
Kisumu Town East is also on the radar as incumbent Shakeel Shabbir who was elected on an independent ticket faces Nicholas Oricho, John Anditi, Job Ndege among other aspirants while in Kisumu Central, Fred Ouda faces another tough challenge from Dr Joshua Oron.
In Siaya, senator James Orengo, who is eying the governor’s seat is facing former police spokesperson Charles Owino in ODM but the major battle awaits him against former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo should he bag the ODM ticket.
Gumbo enjoys massive grassroots support in Siaya and is endowed with grassroots mobilisation skills and is likely to give Mr Orengo a run for his money in the polls.
ODM party tickets
Mr Gumbo who is keen on vying on a party within Mr Odinga's Azimio la Umoja Movement lost narrowly to Governor Cornel Rasanga in 2017 by paltry 19,521 votes after garnering 179,368 votes against Mr Rasanga’s 198,889 votes.
Mr Orengo has warned that the scramble for ODM party tickets in Nyanza region is unhealthy for the party leader who is poised to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
"It is unfortunate that the push to get the Orange party is threatening to divide us while we are eyeing the biggest seat in the land.
"People from other communities have expressed support to Mr Odinga and we cannot afford to be engrossed in local politics. Let's shelve our personal interests for the sake of the bigger picture which is at stake," he said.
Mr Orengo said he is ready to lose his seat if that is what it will take for Mr Odinga to become the fifth president.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, while echoing Mr Orengo's sentiments, appealed to aspirants to remain united to ensure Mr Odinga succeeds in his quest.
"We must get it right this time round. ODM is targeting to have majority of seats in the Senate, National Assembly and county assemblies," he said during the funeral of Mama Wifridah Odanga Opot at Sirembe in Gem Sub County.
He however, cautioned the residents against electing turn coats who will betray Mr Odinga's administration.
"We want people who have been loyal and committed to the party ideals. We should be careful not to fall into the trap of people who want to take advantage of the party's popularity to ride into power," he said.
In the County, focus will also be on three Parliamentary seats of Gem, Alego Usonga and Rarieda.
Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo is facing a tough challenge from former area MP Jakoyo Midiwo's brother Dr Jalang'o Midiwo who passed on last year.
While expressing confidence that he will be reelected, Mr Odhiambo said his constituency is one of the best performers in Siaya County.
“For the five years that I have been in office, I have expanded the supply of electricity in every corner of Gem,” he said, challenging his competitors not to expect any favour but expect a rigorous nomination for the ODM ticket.
In Rarieda, MP Otiende Amollo is also sitting on a shaky ground following Mr Gumbo's influence in the area which might work against him should the governor aspirant back one of his rivals.
Those facing Dr Amollo are Neto Adhola who was disqualified in 2017 for using ODM colours, Lawyer Isaiah Munje among others.
In Alego Usonga, incumbent Sam Atandi has fallen out with nearly all the area leaders including Governor Cornel Rasanga as well as at least three clans in the Constituency – Kakan, Karuoth and Usonga, which he has reportedly vowed to ensure do not win any elective seat in the area.
The clans control nearly three quarters of the vote in the Constituency.
Mr Atandi is facing a stiff competition from University lecturer Dr Nicholas Kut even though former Area MP Omondi Mulwan is also in the race.
Former Siaya county council chairman Aggrey Onyango said the clans have unanimously resolved to back Mr Atandi’s opponent due to the MP’s poor relation with his constituents.
“We have planned meetings with all former councilors across all the Wards to tell our people why Alego is in dire need of change of guard,” Mr Onyango said.
Mr Charles Bala from Usonga Ward also faulted the legislator for labeling the region as outsiders.
“He is on record linking us to Western due to our region’s proximity with Budalang’i and has vowed to oppose our plan to produce the next Siaya Assembly speaker through our MCA Sylvester Madialo who is eying the position and he must forget out votes,” said Mr Bala.
“As leaders, we should not be carried away with local politics but to encourage our people to vote in order for Mr Odinga to succeed and implement his transformational agendas,” Mr Atandi said.
In Homa Bay, like other counties in Nyanza region, the coveted Governor seat is the centre of focus.
ODM National Chairman John Mbadi, Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, former Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero and ex Kasipul Kabondo MP Joseph Magwanga are the front runners in the race.
Mr Magwanga who vied on an independent ticket in 2017 lost narrowly to incumbent Cyprian Awiti and is seen as a major threat in the race.
In the 2017 poll he lost by 21,113 votes after garnering 189,060 votes against Mr Awiti’s 210,173 votes.
For Mr Mbadi, owing to the fact that he hails from the same region (Suba South) with Senator Moses Kajwang' (Suba North), bagging the ODM ticket could complicate the matrix should Mr Kajwang' also win the senatorial ticket as this will cause regional imbalance.
It remains a tough balancing act for the ODM chairman and party on how the situation will be handled to avoid rebellion from other parts of the County.
Already elders from the larger Rachuonyo clan have thrown their weight behind Mr Magwanga, giving him a head start in the race.
Another major focus will be in Kisii County where Dagoretti North MP has teamed up with Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyonka to vie for the county seats.
Mr Arati is facing off with Senator Sam Ongeri who both want to replace Governor James Ongwae while Mr Onyonka is seeking to be Senator.
Both Mr Arati and Prof Ongeri are Mr Odinga's loyalists and it remains a wait and see situation on how the party will handle the matter.
In Nyamira and Migori Counties, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire and Senator Ochillo Ayacko are seen as the front runners in the gubernatorial seats respectively.
Mr Bosire will face off with incumbent Amos Nyaribo who has since dissociated himself with Amani National Congress (ANC) party for associating with Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
Mr Bosire promises to fight deep-rooted endemic corruption, ensuring youth empowerment, upgrading health infrastructure, improving agriculture, education, roads and provision of water.
“Many counties have made great strides in development. Unfortunately, Nyamira is not one of them. Did devolution elude us? Are we cursed? Who will exorcise the curse? Endemic corruption and massive resource wastage continue to plague the county despite change of guard and this I will strive to address once and for all,” Mr Bosire said.
Mr Ayacko is expected to face off with a candidate sponsored by incumbent Zachary Obado of People’s Democratic Party.