By Samuel Ouma
Homa Bay County voters are split on who should succeed Cyprian Awiti, whose term as county chief expires in August.
While a section of them is leaning towards the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party’s nominee Gladys Wanga, others are backing the former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who has been cleared to run as an independent.
Wanga, currently serving as the woman representative, was handed the ODM ticket last month after other aspirants who were seeking the party’s ticket resolved to back her candidature.
“There are those aspirants who have been running for the governorship position in Homa Bay County. They have been having a meeting and invited us as party officials to come and have consultations with them. They’ve had very extensive consultations, at the end of which an agreement has been reached by way of consensus,” announced the party leader Raila Odinga.
“Out of the seven contestants who were here, they’ve all agreed to step down and back Gladys Wanga as the party candidate in the Homa Bay County gubernatorial race. In the same spirit, they’ve also nominated her running mate as Oyugi Magwanga.”
However, the issuance of the direct ticket has been met with opposition from some electorates. They have dismissed the move, vowing to rally behind Kidero ahead of August 9 polls. They faulted ODM for denying Homa Bay residents their rights to choose a leader of their choice and demanded to know why the party is posing Wanga on them.
The irate voters claimed that aspirants were forced to drop their bid in exchange of positions in government should the Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition win. They further questioned why Kidero was not part of the negotiation team.
“Do you want to tell us that the aspirants called themselves to Nairobi or they were invited to Nairobi to support Wanga? It will be a walkover for Kidero on August 9,” said Fred Kambona Okeyo, a voter.
Kidero claimed that he was left out of the decision-making process that resulted in Wanga receiving the ticket.
Wanga supporters, on the other hand, have dismissed Kidero’s candidature, noting that he is unsuitable to lead the county. According to them, Kidero is currently on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission radar after alleged massive misappropriations during his Nairobi tenure and electing him will give the county a bad image.
They also noted that his track record betrays him, arguing that the Mumias Sugar Company collapsed when he was the Managing Director.
“His return to Homa Bay isn’t in good faith. The moment we needed his expertise the most, he eyed the richest county, now that the rich county has rejected him, he is back here intending to Milk blood after Awiti milked us dry,” said Felix Omondi, also a voter.
Research conducted by the Pan African Visions indicate that Kidero is gaining inroads in Homa Bay and if things remain constant as they are now, his victory is guaranteed.