Choice of suitable deputies big headache for governor hopefuls

Choice of suitable deputies big headache for governor hopefuls

Date: 13 May 2017 17:36

Gubernatorial aspirants across the country are burning the midnight oil in search of suitable running mates ahead of the official campaign period which kicks off in two weeks’ time.

A number of sitting governors who fell out with their deputies during their first term in office are looking for new running mates ahead of this year’s election.

The outcome of the just-ended primaries has created the need for new entrants to shop around for running mates capable of attracting votes in areas where they do not enjoy much support.

Among the sitting governors who had fallen out with their deputies during their first term in office include Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and James Ongwae (Kisii).

However, a number of sitting governors, including Nairobi’s Evans Kidero, Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana, Kakemega’s Wycliffe Oparanya and Busia’s Sospeter Ojaamong, have vowed to retain their deputies.


Among the gubernatorial aspirants shopping for suitable running mates include Kisumu senator Anyang’ Nyong’o who is gunning for the county’s gubernatorial seat on an ODM ticket.

The Nation has established that Prof Nyong’o is considering picking Dr Hezron McObewa who unsuccessfully ran against him during the party’s primaries, as well as incumbent deputy governor Ruth Odinga.

He is also said to be keen on picking a candidate from Nyakach sub-county given its huge numbers.

A section of Nyakach professionals led by Maseno University don Gerald Ondiek have endorsed Dr Mathews Owili for the position.

Former Nyakach MP Peter Odoyo, who had been widely viewed as a possible running mate to Prof Nyong’o, however, told the Nation he was not keen on the position.

“As a professional economist who has served as an MP and an assistant minister, I can contribute in many other ways to the development of Kisumu. I will work closely with Prof Nyong’o who is touted as the next governor. It is my wish that the position of deputy governor goes to Nyakach,” Mr Odoyo said.

Ms Odinga insists that she deserves to be Prof Nyong’o’s running mate. She is banking on gender to win the position.

“I have been in the forefront in fighting against corruption in Kisumu and the only female deputy governor in Western Kenya. ODM should consider me given that other female deputies have defected from ODM,” she said.

But the Nation has established that ODM leader Raila Odinga was keen on having Dr McObewa deputise Prof Nyong’o to guarantee the support of the populous Kano vote.

Mr Ranguma, who hails from Kano, has declared he will face off with Prof Nyong’o as an independent candidate.


“It is on this basis that Mr Odinga wants Dr McObewa as Prof Nyong’o’s running mate,” said a source who preferred anonymity.

Dr McObewa could not be reached for comment but Mr Martin Makokha, a member of his campaign secretariat, confirmed he was willing to take up the deputy governor’s position.

“It is a position Dr McObewa has not ruled out accepting,” Mr Makokha said.

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma speaks at Ahero

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma speaks at Ahero Multipurpose Hall on March 23, 2017 where he extended an olive branch to his rival Hezron McObewa appealing to him to drop his bid and support his re-election bid. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Ranguma is yet to name his running mate: “I will unveil my running mate in due course and a powerful team that will steer this county through to the year 2022 when I will retire.” 

He also hinted at teaming up with other independent candidates from the county to campaign for various seats in the region.


The governor is forced to shop for a deputy in three places that will attract votes for him – Nyakach, Seme and the diaspora.

Mr Chris Ondiek’s name has been floated as a possible running mate for Mr Ranguma owing to his youthful age and the fact that he comes from Nyakach.

Also being considered is Mr Billy Kariaga who hails from Kisumu clan to attract the people of Kisumu West.

In the neighbouring Siaya County, the two leading contenders for the gubernatorial seat, incumbent Cornel Rasanga and Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, are also spending sleepless nights looking for suitable running mates.

READ: Coast governors in a fix over choice of deputies

Mr Rasanga, who had a running mate from Bondo constituency – Mr Wilson Ouma-Onyango – has no option but to maintain or pick another running mate from the same sub- county.

Many are of the view that he is likely to retain his running mate even though there are murmurs that he may opt for Carey Orege, who also ran for the seat during the just-ended ODM primaries.

Mr Gumbo, on the other hand, is likely to pick a running mate from the populous Alego Usonga clan in order to eat into Mr Rasanga’s support.

Mr Rasanga hails from the clan. The name on the lips of many is that of former Mombasa Town Clerk Tubman Otieno.

In Kirinyaga, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, who is battling for the gubernatorial seat on the party’s ticket against former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, has picked the outspoken Kirinyaga Central Member of Parliament Gachoki Gitari from the larger Ndia region which traditionally votes with Kirinyaga Central.

Both Ndia and Kirinyaga Central constituencies have a record 139,000 registered voters.

But Ms Waiguru has settled on an influential ex-banker-cum-politician Peter Ndambiri who comes from Mwea, which is the largest and most populated in the county.


Political analysts said Ms Waiguru chose Mr Ndambiri in order to control Mwea which has 122,000 registered votes.

“If Mr Ndambiri manages to deliver all the Mwea votes, then Ms Waiguru will be home and dry,” said one of the analysts, Mr Mureithi Kang’ara.

Ms Karua and Mr Gitari joined forces recently, setting the stage for an epic political battle.

Announcing her decision to pick Mr Gitari, Ms Karua boasted; “Our unity is now official and we shall win hands down.”

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In the Coast counties of Mombasa and Kilifi, the incumbents, Mr Joho and Mr Amason Kingi respectively, are also racing against time for suitable running mates only three months to the election.

Both Mr Joho’s and Mr Kingi’s deputies dumped them and crossed to the Jubilee side.


Mr Kingi’s deputy, Kenneth Kamto, ditched the party and joined the camp of the governor’s arch-rival Gideon Mung’aro and was immediately named his running mate in the August elections.

Ms Hazel Katana, who was Mr Joho’s deputy, also jumped ship to join Jubilee, leaving the ODM deputy party leader with the uphill task of replacing her, preferably with a running mate from the Mijikenda community that carries 52 per cent of the Mombasa County votes.

READ: Karua, Gitari team up to face Waiguru

In Kwale county, the incumbent, Mr Salim Mvurya has stuck with his deputy Fatuma Achani with whom they won the 2013 election on an ODM ticket.

They have since ditched the Orange party for Jubilee.

In Lamu, Governor Issa Timamy has also retained his deputy, Mr Eric Mugo, from the Kikuyu community which accounts for almost one third of the county’s voting population.

In Kakamega, Ford Kenya’s Boni Khalwale and Jubilee Party’s Mabel Muruli, who are both seeking to replace the incumbent – ODM’s Wycliffe Oparanya – are also searching for running mates. Mr Oparanya has already declared that he will retain his deputy, Dr Philip Kutima.

Dr Khalwale has already picked a running mate, James Lusamamba, if only to neutralise Mr Oparanya’s support in the constituency and the neighbouring Lugari, Navakholo and Likuyani.


In Machakos, Dr Mutua is yet to name his running mate. A county executive engineer, Francis Maliti, is being mentioned as his  likely choice.

Mr Maliti hails from Yatta sub-county and is expected to bring regional balance.

Another name being mentioned is outgoing Machakos Woman Representative Susan Musyoka, who lost in Wiper nominations.

Dr Musyoka was early this week seen at Dr Mutua’s office and has of late expressed her dissatisfaction with the way the Wiper party primaries.

Stories by George Munene, Justus Ochieng, Linet Wafula, George Muthini, Daniel Nyassy, Nelcon Odhiambo and Rushdie Oudia

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