ANALYSIS: Who will replace Obado in 2022? Field crowded as over 10, close to 20 candidates show interest

The headline in our Issue 4 Migori News Weekly

By MN Reporter

Migori governor Okoth Obado is a political sunset that you never bask on to get warm, his former close ally famously said, putting into perspective the tight race to replace him in 2022.

As Obado’s tenure is set to end by 2022, several candidates have come out to strongly seek Migori voter mandate to be the next county boss in what is shaping out to high stakes game.

Already the race has attracted over 10 serious candidates who have publicly declared their candidate and are busy privately pooling resources, mobilising their team to launch a full blown campaign later on.

Even closest Obado’s allies and supporters not keen on basking on the sunset like his county secretary Christopher Rusana and speaker Boaz Okoth, have openly started campaigning to replace him when his term ends.

Obado’s campaign ally in 2017 Owiso Ngao, a businessman who manages Ojele Memorial Hospital in Migori town and hails from Karungu clan in Nyatike has also thrown his hat in the crowded.

The three ‘insiders’ are facing it off with Migori senator Dr. Ochillo Ayacko, Woman Representative Dr. Pamela Odhiambo, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, former Migori MP John Pesa and former Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga among others.

“We have main candidates who have started coalescing their support base, none has really started splashing huge cash as seen in current coronavirus fight where only office holders like Ayacko and Odhiambo have made any donations,” Nick Oluoch, a county political analyst said.

The line of campaigns aggressively taken by most candidates is low key funerals where their point men are sent to prepare ground and using bloggers to start social media groups and sponsor posts for popularity.

“Most high level functions, especially where key decision makers like ODM leader Raila Odinga is present have been a major pointer to push through candidates’ agenda. Right now no candidate has aggressively move in all 40 wards with most counting on their name popularity or hanging on coats of the incumbent,” Oluoch adds.

The Long List.

Out of all candidates, Odhiambo is the only woman to have shown interest with getting key endorsement from Suba elders.

The academician hails from Kolal sub-clan of larger Kadem clan in Nyatike like Anyanga, and is married to husband and Meru Vice Chancellor Prof. Romanus Odhiambo from Suna West constituency.

In her first endorsement for the seat, Odhiambo turned to Suba elders for blessing, the first group she sought support from in 2017.

“In larger Suna and Suba region (Suna East, Suna West and Nyatike constituencies) I am the only strong candidate who will not only unify our bloc, but seek mandate elsewhere,” the former don at JKUAT told elders.

Her assertiveness is a pointer that in larger six out of eight constituencies among Luos, the sugar belt region of Uriri, Awendo and Rongo already produced Obado and the governor post “should cross river Oyani to Migori region.”

“I also know that Rusana wants the same seat and is from the same area, but elders when you give out blessings remember who came first,” Odhiambo joked.

Clamoring for this political windstorm, candidates “beyond river Oyani” away from the sugar belt form the largest number to include Pesa, Ngao, Rusana, Boaz, Anyanga, USA based professor Mark Ogutu who has severally vied as Nyatike MP and former Mombasa county executive Seth Odongo among others.

Ayacko from Awendo, who vied twice in 2017 ODM primaries and general election and lost against Obado with an election petition thrown out of courts, and his political nemesis Dalmas who hails from Rongo hold the sugar belt region bloc.

Mark Nyamita, the Uriri legislator from Obado’s backyard who vied in the past as Migori governor, has also sent mixed signals from the sugar belt area.

“Candidates will have to solidify their own backyards especially those from Nyatike which is the most populous and vote rich but has five candidates including a immediate former legislator and speaker, and seek votes from elsewhere which is a tough choice,” Elisha Otieno, former journalist and political analyst said.

The Minority Kuria Effect

While all main candidates are from the Majority Luo community, no Kuria candidate which is a minority at about 30 per cent of the population has yet to field any candidate.

Since the onset of devolution, the community has only been fielding deputy governors a precedent set by Obado who picked Kuria East politician Mwita Mahanga on PDP ticket as his deputy to win and send a strong message against ODM’s Prof. Edward Oyugi and Anne Anyanga.

In 2017, the candidate from Kuria community, Chrispinus Weira vied on a Jubilee Party and came last with Simon Wambura as his deputy, after all Luo deputies turned him down.

In last elections, all other candidates picked their candidates from the Kuria minority community and to balance from the community Bairege, Nyabasi, Bagumbe and Bakira clans they dangled posts and tenders through elders endorsements.