Scramble for votes intensifies in Nyanza

Scramble for votes intensifies in Nyanza

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Nyanza region which has previously been considered a hostile hunting ground for politicians is now increasingly becoming a battleground as various groups start streaming into the area in search of votes ahead of the 2022 polls.

Those who seem to have thrown the hat in the ring include deputy president William Ruto and his political archrival Baringo senator Gideon Moi. ODM leader Raila Odinga also enjoys some semblance of support there at the presidential level when it comes to voting. Ruto has made his intentions known in the region as he digs in in order to rally support from Nyanza counties. His foot soldiers from the region toured Migori county to spread the ‘hustler movement’ message to the youth in the latest assault in an area considered a political bastion of Raila.

Migori is one of the counties the Ruto brigade has visited, led by a former Raila strategist Eliud Owalo who was accompanied by Kuria West MP Mathias Robbi in launching the movement’s Migori chapter. Migori is an interesting region for the DP considering his warm relationship with Governor Okoth Obado who enjoys massive support from the grassroots. His imposing personality has given the Orange Democratic Movement a major headache in the past elections, having beaten the party’s choice Edward Oyugi in the 2013 polls to clinch the governor seat.

Obado also floored Ochillo Ayacko, another preferred candidate, to retain his seat in 2017. He is currently giving ODM sleepless nights over his planned impeachment due to a corruption case and should he work with the DP, the ODM brigade will have a tough time retaining its support base ahead of the 2022 general election. The next scheduled frontier for the DP’s allies is Homa Bay county where a lot of fireworks are expected. Owalo and Sudi consolidated the many groups supporting the DP to avoid conflicts that may hinder his activities in Luo Nyanza in the near future.

The forays by Ruto have caused shivers down the spines of the ODM command. Owalo launched the ‘hustler movement’ coordination team in Luo Nyanza. The bandwagon includes youths, women leaders, small-scale traders, professionals, elders, the clergy, people living with disabilities and opinion leaders. The Ruto team has slammed the building bridges initiative brigade, led by Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila saying it is only keen on expanding the executive.

Owalo says the consolidated team will spearhead ‘hustler’ programmes and activities in the country, including but not limited to Ruto presidential campaigns. Sudi has been concentrating on Kisumu as he tries to popularise Ruto in the ODM territory, having hosted a delegation of youths from Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu counties in August. He was in the company of his Tangatanga counterparts Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati). Earlier the vocal MP was in Kisumu with Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and met youth leaders.

He had attended a dowry payment ceremony in Siaya and toured Kisumu, eating fish at the famous Dunga Beach and interacting with youths. But a third force has already been created which revolves around Moi. It consists of businessman Fred Kowido on the one hand and Milton Obote who are now fighting over control of Kanu in Kisumu county. Kowido and Obote both claim to be working for Gideon. The DP is keen on wooing ODM supporters, his targets being the Luo and South Nyanza, Western, Coast and Nairobi.

ODM leaders in Kisumu have however poured cold water over Ruto’s efforts saying they will have little impact. Ayiecho Olweny, the party’s county coordinating committee chair, insists that ODM’s support remains unshaken. The DP’s planned tour to the region is yet to materialize due to unsown reasons. Raila recently while speaking at the Kisumu county party regional office castigated the DP over his distribution of goodies in his political turf. The message being sold is how the DP will handle problems bedeviling the region, including unemployment among the youth, lack of business opportunities for women and basic subsistence for the common man.

Fred Matiang’i

The DP has also been having a field day in Gusiiland due to what keen observers believe is an existing power vacuum occasioned by the exit from politics by former area strongman Simeon Nyachae. Nyachae for a long time had a relative stranglehold in Gusii politics via his Ford People which was among parties which were later merged into TNA in the run-up to the 2013 general elections. Raila has had a nightmare there since not a single ODM candidate went to the national assembly on the party’s ticket save for Senator Sam Ongeri.

Ngunjiri Kimani

Pundits believe the DP’s unending visits in quest of support from Gusiiland are a direct tussle with Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i who is considered the sidekick of Uhuru and Raila. Ruto and Matiang’i have been strange bedfellows after the president elevated the CS to spearhead government projects two years ago, roles that were initially believed to be the DP’s. Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi who is Ruto’s point man on the ground said the DP’s visits are in the best interest of the community.

Chaos broke out in Kisii town where the DP was expected to meet motor riders, a section of Gusii leaders and traders. North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko, who is also Ruto’s man on the ground says that the DP has the right to go to any part of the nation given his stature. With Bobasi’s Innocent Obiri’s defection, the DP is now left with only two MPs from the county namely Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango) and Alpha Miruka (Bomachoge Chache). Matiangi has not come out in the open over his intentions come 2022 but it is believed that he is up to something.