Raila, Ruto face nomination headache ahead of election

The two are walking a tightrope to avert fallouts in their strongholds.

In Summary
  •  Ruto and Raila's allies fight for UDA and ODM tickets in 10 counties.
  •  It will be a delicate balancing act to ensure the primaries are less disruptive.
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga are worried about party nominations planned for early next year as they have the potential to make or break them, according to people close to the duo. 

Both leaders are attracting many aspirants especially in their strongholds, a sign that competition will be very stiff in some cases.

Already Ruto's UDA has been fighting reports that it has guaranteed some of its members direct tickets.

Raila's party has previously been accused of unfair nominations and in recent months the party has announced a raft of measures to address the nomination headache.

There are indications that the biggest headache for the two leaders will come from at least 10 counties where they enjoy massive support and may see major fallouts.

Governorship, which is the second most prestigious position after the presidency, is attracting heavyweights to both UDA and ODM.

The UDA wave is perceived to be strong in Mt Kenya, Rift Valley, parts of the Coast, Western and Kisii, while ODM on the other hand is influential in Nairobi, Western, Nyanza, pastoral areas of Maasai, Turkana, Pokot, Samburu, Northeastern Kenya and the Coast. 

Raila is facing a tough job in Mombasa, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Siaya and Kisumu. 

For Raila, Siaya county is turning out to be a hotspot where he will have to do a balancing act between the will of the people and personal friendship. 

In his home county, the former premier will be torn between his longtime loyalist and legal adviser James Orengo, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi as well as former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo. 

Former police spokesman Charles Owino is also in the race to succeed Governor Cornel Rasanga who is serving his second and last term. 

In Homa Bay, the battle is shaping up between Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, ODM chairman John Mbadi, former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga. 

In Migori, Raila’s headache on whom to back to take over from Governor Okoth Obado is heightening. 

There is Senator Ochilo Ayacko, Obado’s arch-rival, Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo and former Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga. 

Another county that is giving Raila sleepless nights is Mombasa, where the contest will be between two of his lieutenants - businessman Suleiman Shahbal and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir. 

On Thursday, ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna said all aspirants will be treated equally and will be subjected to a free and fair nomination process. 

“The party has rules on how to arrive at candidates. We will follow those rules,” he told the Star on phone.   

In Uasin Gishu county, there is Soy MP Caleb Kositany, businessman Jonathan Bii, also from Soy, Nairobi executive for Devolution Vesca Kangogo and Kenya’s envoy to Pakistan Julius Bitok all plotting to take over from Jackson Mandago.

On Thursday, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu warned that UDA and ODM parties could lose strong candidates to fringe parties if they bungle nominations. 

“The perception is that the two parties are seen as the big horses but danger is lurking and they could be left scratching their heads sooner than later,” the Ford Kenya lawmaker said. 

The MP said the only way political parties can stand the test of time would be if leaders stopped meddling in party primaries and allowed democracy to prevail. 

“Any attempt by party bosses to meddle in the nominations and trying to dish out tickets would be costly for parties especially in their strongholds,” he said. 

So far it looks like Ruto's problems will be in five counties of Kisii, Uasin Gishu, Kirinyaga, Bomet and Kericho. 

In Kisii, two of Ruto's point men in the region - Deputy Governor Joash Maangi and former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara - are eyeing the UDA ticket. 

In neighbouring Bomet county, a tight race is shaping up between incumbent Governor Hillary Barchok and Petroleum CAS John Musonik. 

The indication on Wednesday by Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru that she could join UDA has put the DP between a rock and a hard place. 

Ruto’s ally and county Woman Representative Purity Ngirici has already announced that she will be seeking to dethrone the former Devolution CS on a UDA ticket. 

Ngirici said although Waiguru was pushing for the Building Bridges Initiative against the wishes of the people of  Kirinyaga, the governor is welcome to the “hustler movement” 

“Because they have joined us a bit late, as a governor candidate on UDA, I am asking them to come in peace. We will go into nomination and I am very ready to battle with them,” Ngirici said. 

She went on: “If the people of Kirinyaga will decide that you (Waiguru) are going to be the next governor, well and good, I will sit back and support you. But if we go for nominations and I defeat you, you should also accept defeat. That is what I stand for.” 

Kericho county could also give the DP sleepless nights as his two close associates – Senator Aaron Cheruiyot and Energy CS Charles Keter - are understood to be planning to succeed Governor Paul Chepkwony.    

On Wednesday, Ruto said every member of UDA will get an opportunity, assuring the aspirants of a transparent nomination process. 

Ruto said no one will be favoured regardless of the closeness they enjoy to the second-in-command. 

“We will have free, fair and democratic nominations. The people will decide who will take which position –MCA, MP, Woman Representative, senator, governor - members will have the final say,” he said during a meeting with leaders from Northeastern counties.    

He added, “You do not have to be a friend of anybody, you don’t have to know anybody. You only need to know the voter because that is the person who will determine whether you get the ticket and win the seat or not.” 

Analysts have warned that without pre-nomination negotiations, fallouts could be inevitable.

Bungled nominations could lead to hopefuls bolting out to run as independent candidates. 

Peter Theuri, a political analyst based in Nairobi, told the Star that in a scenario where some of the aspirants feel that they are likely to be rigged out, going independent would be an option.