Kisii gubernatorial race: Onyonka rooting for leaders outside Ongwae’s clan

Sunday, August 8th, 2021 16:09 |
Kisii Governor James Ongwae addresses the press at a past event. Photo/PD/file

With exactly one year to the next general elections, Kitutu Chache Member of Parliament Richard Onyonka has assured aspirants for the area’s gubernatorial seat that no hopeful from Abagetutu clan will vie to succeed Kisii County Governor James Ongwae.

Consequently, the lawmaker has appealed to the aspirants from other five clans- Bobasi, Bonchari, Bomachoge, South Mugirango and Nyaribari to prepare to take the mantle after Ongwae leaves office in 2022.

The Ford Kenya MP, who hails from the larger Abagetutu clan said he has kicked off a campaign in the county to implore aspirants to support one of the best candidates to replace Ongwae and take the county to the next level.

“I have met Transport and Infrastructure Chief Administrative Secretary ( CAS) Chris Obure and my colleague, Ezekiel Machogu. I want to meet Senator Prof. Ongeri and other aspirants to agree on the issue,” Onyonka told mourners during the funeral of Secondary School Principal Jackline Siro at Mosocho village in his constituency.

The legislator, who is serving his third term, said if the leaders will not produce one aspirant, they will split the votes and it will force Omogetutu to vie and win the seat and take over the county’s top leadership for the third time.

Citing Bobasi constituency, which has the highest number of gubernatorial aspirants, the Ford Kenya Deputy leader challenged the hopefuls to support one candidate or flock the field, lose and regret.

Dagoretti Member of Parliament Simba Arati and lawyer Lumumba Nyaberi have also thrown their hats into the ring for the gubernatorial seat. Obure and Woman Representative Janet Onge’ra have not openly declared their interest in the seat despite their supporters saying they are in the race.

During the internment of Kisii County Public Service Board Chairman Evans Mamboleo at Bonyankama village in Bobasi constituency recently, Ong’era asked Ongwae to endorse a person who will succeed him foster development in the area.

“The governor has done good work and can be trusted to identify a good person. I am not saying it is me, Ongeri or Deputy Governor, Joash Maangi” Ong’era told mourners.

Machogu, who is Nyaribari Masaba MP who is also vying for the gubernatorial seat said he is an experienced civil servant and pledged to work with Onyonka and the Abagetutu clan to aid him win the coveted seat.

“I worked with Ongwae and he is an experienced civil servant. We are negotiating and I am ready to succeed him owing to my experience in the civil service” the Mp told mourners.

David Omato, an Expert in Strategic Management said the Gusii community is divided politically and urged Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’is' team with the leaders to spearhead the community's cohesion.

“The Cabinet Secretary is non-partisan. He can unite the community before the next general election the way former late cabinet minister, Simeon Nyachae did in 2002 when he vied for presidency” Omato told People Daily on phone yesterday.

He said while the leaders contested for the county’s seats, it was necessary for the leaders to unite, speak with one voice and chart a political course for the community to fit in the next government and benefit.

Abagusii Culture and Development Council (ACDC) chairman, James Matundura said plans are underway for the elders to crown Matiang’I the Gusii spokesman, saying he is best bet to link the community with the national government.

“As elders, we only know one spokesman and that is Matiang’i. There are others who claim to be spokesman but have assured me they are not serious and merely testing political waters” Matundura told People Daily on phone yesterday.

The gubernatorial seat has attracted Maangi, Racheal Otundo, Machogu, Arati, Josiah Onyancha, Omingo Magara, Manson Oyongo and Nyaberi. Obure, Ong’era and Ongeri are yet to declare for the seat officially.

Magara, who is Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) leader allied to United Democratic Alliance ( UDA) linked to Deputy President William Ruto said he is experienced to replace Ongwae having served as a member of parliament for South Mugirango.

The former lawmaker, who vied unsuccessfully for the county’s Senatorial seat said he has supporters who will propel him to be the next governor after Ongwae.

Nyabuto Onyambu, a human Rights Activist said it will be a politically delicate balancing act for Ongwae to support Ong’era, Ongeri or Maangi in the Orange Democratic Movement ( ODM) Party given that they supported him recapture the seat in 2017.

He said the governor has an option of supporting a compromise candidate from another party allied to ODM and leave the trio on their own.

“ Ongwae can opt to vie for gubernatorial seat and seek alliances from new leaders who can assist him win or campaign for an ODM presidential candidate and be appointed a cabinet Secretary,” Onyambu told People Daily Digital.

The Activist said the governor will gauge the popularity of the Aspirant and political implications before he supports him or her, stressing, he will take a political risk to please his friends.

Onyonka has periodically said the county leaders will embrace negotiated democracy and share political and appointive seats for each clan to be represented in the county.

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