Fierce supremacy battles have erupted within ODM ranks and file as political realignments continue to take shape ahead of the 2022 general election. At the epicentre of the whole scenario is loyalty towards ODM party leader Raila Odinga and political seniority in the party. In Kisumu county, a major feud between Kisumu governor Anyang Nyong’o and the county’s senator Fred Outa has plunged the devolved unit into a constant state of animosity with all eyes trained on the 2022 gubernatorial race.
The ferocious political rivalry between friends-turned-foes has divided Kisumu residents, with the senator’s backers wasting no opportunity to discredit the governor. A section of county workers has also been sucked into the high stakes political plot whose endgame is to portray Nyong’o as a political failure. The two leaders have locked horns over the governors’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the floods in Muhoroni and Kano areas where Outa hails from. Outa has accused Nyong’o of arrogance and disrespect for other leaders. They accuse the governor of arbitrary decisions without consulting other elected leaders and stuffing the county’s top positions with people from his Seme clan. The senator, who helped Nyong’o oust former governor Jack Ranguma, has accused the governor of doing little to cushion the people of Kisumu against the pandemic.
Outa at one time disrupted Nyong’o tour of the flood-hit Muhoroni, pointing fingers at the governor for Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa’s aborted trip to the region.“We don’t want to hear what Nyong’o is saying here. That is nonsense, they are just stories and we don’t want to hear them,” bellowed Outa on the public address system that drowned out the governor’s speech to the press. But Nyong’o defended himself, saying Wamalwa and his water counterpart Cecily Kariuki could not tour the area because of bad weather.“I was in the area waiting for the two ministers who were supposed to distribute food but Eugene called me saying he could not fly in due to bad weather,” said the governor. According to Nyong’o, food was still available for distribution by the National Cereals Board and Produce of Kenya. “It is my take and feeling from my interactions with the people on the ground that county government of Kisumu is unprepared for any eventuality,” charged Outa.
Any forays into Nyando and Muhoroni sub-counties by the governor are vigorously resisted by Outa and his backers. Last year, the governor was heckled and pelted with stones twice when he led a team to Ombeyi to educate residents on a government decision to host a special economic zone in Miwani. Again recently Nyong’o was assessing the damage caused by floods when Outa suddenly stormed and disrupted his meeting at K’Ogalo evacuation centre. The senator arrived with his public address system and launched a tirade at the governor who was addressing the media. The governor lunged at the senator but was restrained by his handlers. Unbothered, Outa then acknowledged the presence of Kisumu county commissioner Susan Waweru, National Irrigation Board officials present and the woman representative Rosa Buyu. Nyong’o’s engagement ended prematurely and he left in a huff. “We understand that the governor called Eugene Wamalwa not to come here because he was not consulted as the area governor. The cabinet secretary was already at the airport but had to cancel the trip,” he said.
“A lot of people have come here expecting relief from the national government. As a result, we have decided there will be no money given to the county government to distribute. We have asked that all resources from national government be channeled to National Irrigation Board to distribute to our people who are now in danger of raging floods,” said Outa, during the memorial service for the six bouncers killed in Busia last year. Political differences between Prof Nyong’o and Outa have since intensified. Outa lit the fire when he claimed Nyong’o was partly to blame for the murder of the six. The senator said some of the bouncers had been employed as casuals by former governor Ranguma, Outa has been calling on the ethics and anti-corruption commission to probe activities of the governor. It appears only Nyando MP Jared Okello is the only one on Nyong’o’s side. Kisumu West colleague Olago Aluoch does not see eye-to-eye with Nyong’o. According to those around Aluoch, it is Nyong’o who ensured that the MP does not secure an ODM party ticket during the 2013 general elections.
Aluoch later decamped to Ford-K where he trounced the ODM party flag bearer Rosa Buyu who is the current Kisumu women representative. Buyu later filed a petition against Aluoch but lost. Aluoch recaptured his seat at the 2017 polls after Buyu abandoned her bid. Muhoroni MP Onyango K’oyoo has been a marked man in the county after members of the public became hostile during the launch of an industrial park in Ombeyi within his area. He has denied involvement in the booing incident. K’oyoo could not explain his absence from the function even though he has for a long time been a strange bedfellow in ODM. The MP recaptured his seat at the 2017 polls amidst controversy. He made his way into parliament in 2013 via a PDP party ticket after being locked out of ODM. He is now an ODM legislator. The MP has managed to bring developments in his area using the handshake politics that has seen many projects and government officials visit Muhoroni compared to any other Luo Nyanza constituency. Many observers feel that he supported Ranguma during the last general election.
K’oyoo opposed the relocation of the main dumping site in Kisumu to his constituency Nyakach MP Aduma Owuor, according to keen observers, has his loyalty directed towards Odinga. His Kisumu East counterpart, Ahmed Shabir, has a bone to chew with Nyong’o after he was locked out of ODM at the last polls. The nomination was handed over to Nicholas Oricho, who Shabir defeated hands down as an independent. Ahmed has been critical of the administration of Nyong’o’s administration ever since, more so, how Nyanza region leaders have been handling the sugar subsector. The Kisumu East MP feels that he was denied the ODM ticket for allegedly supporting Ranguma which was probably based on the Kano clan factor. Seme MP James Nyikal was initially critical of Nyong’o when the governor was gunning for the position but has since toned down after realizing that they both hail from the same locality coupled with the fact that the governor has an ear of Raila. Critics of Nyong’o feel that he is not a true party patriot having been a Social Democratic Party member prior to the 2002 elections where he won the Kisumu Rural parliamentary seat after joining the Liberal Democratic Party at the last minute ahead of the polls.
Nyong’o lost during the 1997 Kisumu rural polls in Kisumu rural constituency to Winston Ayoki of NDP where Kanu’s Ndolo Ayah came second after he openly campaigned against the presidency of Raila. The Social Democratic Party later nominated him to parliament after he ardently supported their presidential candidate of y Ngilu, the current Kitui governor. Kisumu women representative Rosa Buyu and nominated senator Rose Nyamunga are archrivals. Nyamunga previously occupied Buyu’s position until the last polls when she was ousted. Nyamunga during the burial of former Maendeleo Ya wanawake Kisumu district chairperson Gertrude Owiny in Nyando, she declared total war against Buyu for allegedly undermining her. In Siaya county, the abrasive political war has heightened ahead of the 2022 gubernatorial position. The scenario has created bad blood between the Governor Cornel Rasanga and area senator James Orengo. Insiders say that Orengo, coupled with the pivotal role he played in the presidential election petition after the 2017 general polls, feels that he is the senior-most politician in the area whereas Rasanga feels he is close to Raila.
Even though Rasanga, has not settled on a candidate to succeed him after 2022, he has made it clear that he will only support whoever the party endorses and who also supported him in office. Three MPs Samuel Atandi, Elisha Odhiambo and Gideon Ochanda have been critical of the administration of Rasanga. They all feel that they should directly report to Raila due to varied reasons. Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has adopted to be on a lone ranger mission, while his Ugenya counterpart Dave Ochieng of the Movement for Democracy and Growth party has openly declared that his party will field a gubernatorial candidate during the next general election. Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, though not controversial, enjoys his close association with Raila due to the eminent role he played in the presidential election petition where Nasa carried the day, Homa Bay women MP Christine Ombaka has taken a latent position within the region. In Homa Bay, political heavyweights within the region do not see eye-to-eye. Women representative Gladys Wanga serving her second term as the county’s woman representative is a close ally of Raila.
Wanga who is the Homa Bay ODM chairperson does not rally together with Millie Odhiambo, who leads parliamentarian’s leadership in the region. Odhiambo feels she is older and senior-most compared to Wanga having been nominated to parliament in 2007 before being elected in 2013, courtesy of support from the late Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang. But it is believed that Odhiambo was defeated by another aspirant Jim Akali only to be handed the party certificate under controversial circumstances. Wanga has been added more impetus after clinching the powerful all finance committee in parliament. In fact, Odhiambo has openly declared that she does not support Wanga’s 2022 gubernatorial ambitions. The MP said in as much as she supports women leadership, she won’t back “exploitative leadership” even from a fellow woman. “Gladys would be the worst mistake Homa Bay would make for the choice of governor. She has not done well with the National Government Affirmative Action Fund and the ever money-consuming Sacco,” Millie said. And as if to give credence to the popular belief that women are their own worst enemies, Millie said she detests Wanga’s leadership style which she described as “abrasive, divisive and manipulative”.
“I, hereby, declare you do not have my support. You can unleash all the online warriors in heaven and on earth but it only makes my resolve firm. I do not support you, period,” she said. Wanga earlier hinted at running for the Homa Bay governor seat in 2022. She has told her supporters, including MCAs who have been at the forefront urging her to go for the seat “to prepare their best clothes and get ready for the 2022 journey”. If Wanga chooses to run for the seat, she will go up against other ODM heavyweights including Mbadi, Kaluma, and businessman Enosh Bolo Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang’s political star has been rising ever since he succeeded his brother Otieno and is now serving his second term in office. The youthful senator is likely to play a key role in county politics owing to his senatorial experience with many people believing that he enjoys the patronage of Raila. He has been calling for prudent utilization of public funds by county governors. Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma has been playing second fiddle due to the fact that he did not have a smooth sailing during the party primaries at the last polls. A lawyer by profession, he is among politicians who will play a key role in Nyanza politics.
On whether he is eyeing the Homa Bay gubernatorial seat, Kaluma says only time will tell. “I cannot comment at this point, maybe in the future because right now, my focus is to serve residents as their MP,” he says John Mbadi who is the Suba South MP is among veteran politicians in the county but is seen as one who had a hand in the loss of many aspirants in the region due to his position as ODM chairman. It is believed that Mbadi was defeated by a close ally of Raila Caroli Omondi but was handed a direct nomination by Raila. Former MPs namely Silvance Osele, Agostino Neto, George Oner blamed Mbadi for their loss in the party primaries. A close ally of Raila, Mbadi will no doubt be among politicians to watch out for in 2022. Millie Odhiambo is among vocal and experienced female politicians in the Nyanza region. She speaks boldly on matters of women’s rights and is a political force to watch in 2022. In Migori, Governor Okoth Obado and the senator Ochilo Ayacko are arch-rivals.
The situation has further been given a new dimension with the emerging of Suna East Member of Parliament Junet Mohamed as area political kingpin. Mohamed enjoys the support of Raila was in the entourage which went to Dubai to accompany the ODM leader on his return after surgery. At the same time, the two former cabinet ministers who have been political archrivals do not glitter together. Both have declared their interest in the gubernatorial position for Migori county. Otieno and Ayacko who had also served as members of parliament for Rongo constituency have declared interest for the position to succeed Obado who is currently serving his second and last term in office. The two prominent politicians were rivals battling for supremacy until Otieno rejoined ODM enabling him to outsmart Ayacko and reclaimed the parliamentary seat until 2017 when he was replaced by a newcomer Paul Abuor.