Why running as independent candidate in Nyanza is committing political suicide
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries in counties in the former Nyanza province could end the long political careers of some big names in the country’s politics.
In a region where winning an ODM ticket almost guarantees victory in the General Election, newcomers may comfortably walk into the 12th Parliament after the August 8 elections.
Whereas some of the political giants could be mulling running as independent candidates, political analysts say that could be to their disadvantage especially after ODM leader Raila Odinga was declared the Opposition presidential candidate.
In Rongo constituency, businessman Paul Abuor trounced former powerful Kanu-era cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno.
Mr Otieno also served as minister for Public Service in the Grand Coalition government under President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Odinga as prime minister.
In the April 24 primaries, Mr Abuor polled 7,300 votes against Mr Otieno who managed less than 3,000 votes.
“I am waiting for the party certificate to be officially handed to me next week and now resort to massive campaigns for our party leader in his quest for President,” Mr Abuor told Nation.
He went on: “We will crisscross the entire Constituency and County to ensure massive turn out in the August 8 elections to guarantee a Raila Presidency.”
Gem Constituency ODM winner Elisha Odhiambo said his victory had been long overdue.
He beat incumbent MP Jakoyo Midiwo, the National Assembly deputy minority leader and Mr Odinga’s first cousin.
“In 2013 I beat Jakoyo Midiwo hands down but did not manage to get the party certificate. This time round, I am grateful my party leader Raila Odinga has assured all winners there will be no monkey business,” said Mr Odhiambo.
According to returning officer Willis Anayo, Mr Odhiambo got 13,400 votes against Mr Midiwo’s 8,900 votes.
Mr Odhiambo said it was not an easy task to win because of “huge threats and intimidation” from his main opponent.
“In most of my strongholds, artificial chaos were created to scare away my supporters from voting. For example in Malele, Akala and Kambare which are basically located in Jakoyo’s home area but which I enjoyed massive support, proper election was not conducted but I still managed to win by a margin similar to 2013 which was close to 5,000 votes,” said Mr Odhiambo.
Mr Odinga’s presidential bid, he said, was now his main focus in the campaigns to ensure he wins the August 8 polls by a wide margin.
Political curtains also fell on nominated MP Oburu Oginga, a former Finance Assistant Minister and Mr Odinga’s elder brother after incumbent Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda beat him after garnering 28,446 votes against Dr Oginga’s 4,000 votes.
Dr Oginga had disputed the results but on Saturday, ODM National Elections Board confirmed Dr Ochanda’s victory.
“I beat him (Dr Oginga) and that is clear from the election records,” Dr Ochanda said.
Dr Oginga agreed to back Dr Ochanda and ensure he wins back the Bondo seat.
Even though Rangwe MP George Oner was not a visible politician to warrant his ranking as a political heavy weight, the victory of Dr Lilian Gogo, a University don, elicited heated reactions in the region.
She garnered 20,584 votes against Mr Oner’s 2,187 votes according to returning officer Panaito Illa.
Being a female, her victory in a region where culture plays out against females, the win remained worth attention.
Females who made it to parliament in the region include; Grace Onyango — first woman mayor of Kisumu who was elected to the National Assembly in 1969 and Phoebe Asiyo, former Karachuonyo MP who was first elected in 1980.
In 1983, educationist Grace Ogot became one of only a handful of women to serve as a member of parliament and the only woman assistant minister in the cabinet of then President Daniel Arap Moi.
Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo then came in after being elected in the 2013 elections, having been nominated to Parliament in 2008.
“I have to mention to you that it was not an easy task to win that race. I had to fight hard amid threats and violence by my opponents.
“In some polling stations, my agents were even chased away but that did not stop my victory,” Dr Gogo, a Lecturer in the department of Dairy and Food Technology at Egerton University said.
Even though some of the losers could be mulling running as independent candidates; political analyst Prof Herman Manyora argues that: “It will be foolhardy to go ahead and vie as an independent candidate in Nyanza with Raila as the Nasa presidential candidate unless you are extremely popular.”
Political Analyst and Moi University Javas Bigambo, agrees with Prof Manyora.
He says Mr Odinga’s candidacy for President will excite his supporters in Nyanza who will vote in his party members.
“It won’t be easy for independent candidates to carry the day in Nyanza, may be in Western,” Mr Bigambo said.