Mudavadi, Raila and Ruto war shapes Oparanya succession race
The race to succeed Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya continues to intensify and has already narrowed down to three political formations.
All the eight aspirants that have declared interest in the seat are aligned to either Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga or his Amani National Congress counterpart Musalia Mudavadi.
A clear pattern is emerging in which candidates have been working to consolidate their home bases before reaching out to other constituencies.
Each of the aspirants was yesterday exuding confidence, saying they had what it takes to succeed Oparanya.
“We have the numbers, goodwill and support across the county and we are confident of massive victory come next year,” said Lugari MP Ayub Savula, who is seeking the ANC ticket to vie for the gubernatorial seat.
Savula bases his confidence on the high number of voters in his constituency.
He garnered over 45,000 votes in the last elections, which was the highest among winners in the 12 parliamentary seats in the populous county.
In 2017, Kakamega County had 743,736 registered voters, with 341,994 being female and 401,742 male.
Lugari constituency boasts of 77,001 voters while the neighbouring Likuyani, which Savula believes is likely to back him, has 63,311 votes.
The MP further lays claim on Malava, which has 82,136 votes, the highest in the county.
He says he was born at Shamoni village in the constituency but his parents relocated to Lugari.
However, Deputy Governor Prof Philip Kutima, who is among the contestants, also hails from Malava and it remains to be seen how the battle for the constituency’s votes will play out.
Lurambi constituency has 80,037 votes, and so far no one from the region has declared interest, rendering it a swing vote.
Area MP Titus Khamala yesterday said they would vote for the candidate who will be nominated by ANC.
“Lurambi is locked. All our votes will strictly be for the ANC candidates, including the one running for governor,” Bishop Khamala told the People Daily.
Navakholo with 53,620 votes, Mumias West with 47,492 and Mumias East with 45,380 do not also have candidates for the gubernatorial race.
Matungu, which has 61,728 votes, has the highest number of contestants. They include Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Chief Executive Fernandes Barasa, Kakamega County Assembly Clerk Laban Atemba and businessman Michael Osundwa.
Butere, which is Oparanya’s home-constituency, will field former Cabinet minister Amukowa Anangwe.
Butere has 62,956 votes. Prof Anangwe has defended his decision to gun for the top county seat, saying his home area should not be used to judge him.
“There is nothing I and the entire Butere residents have gained from Oparanya’s governorship. The kind of poverty that is still in Butere is of monumental proportions,” he said.
Metropol Founder and Chief Executive Sam Omukoko come from Khwisero, which has 48,920 votes.
Though Senator Cleophas Malalah has been linked to the seat, he has not declared his candidature.
Malalah was instrumental in the recent Matungu by-election, which was won by Peter Nabulindo.
Shinyalu with 71,256 votes does not have a candidate after the area MP Justus Kizito indicated that he will not run for seat.
This leaves former Senator Boni Khalwale, who hails from the neighbouring Ikolomani, to believe that he will start with an upper hand in the two constituencies. Ikolomani has 49,899 votes.
But Dr Khalwale’s critics dismiss his mettle in Ikolomani and Shinyalu, saying they were some of the constituencies that would provide the swing vote and that they are up for grabs.
“Just because Khalwale comes from Ikolomani does not guarantee him automatic support. He even lost to Oparanya in his own constituency in the last elections,” said the Shinyalu MP.