THE race for Siaya gubernatorial seat is likely to take a new dimension following high indications that area Senator James Orengo wants to take over from Cornel Rasanga the incumbent whose term will come to an end come 2022. As the race to succeed Rasanga gradually shapes up as expected, it will inevitably divided leaders two years to the ballot. Already, there are political formations, with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga’s close allies caught up in the succession battle.
At some stage, political undertones marked the burials of Achieng Oneko’s wife, Loice Anyango and William Oduol’s father in Rarieda and Alego-Usonga sub-counties respectively. While Siaya Senator James Orengo is yet to declare his political interest in 2022 elections, a section of his allies has been drumming up support for him. The name of Jubilee party secretary Raphael Tuju has also cropped up with word, due to his current battle over the ownership of his hotel with African development Bank, he has decided not to run but concentrate on the legal battle. “A time has come that we must now reward our heroes with political seats and Senator Orengo suits the reward,’ said Samuel Atandithe Alego Usonga Mp. Among those who are said to have the interest to succeed Governor Cornel Rasanga but are also yet to declare their interest publicly are Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, Deputy Governor James Okumbe and Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda.
Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo who vied for the seat during the 2017 general elections and lost to Rasanga has also declared his interest to run for the seat. Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, who has also been touted as a possible candidate for the county’s top seat has previously dismissed the claims. Tuju, who was speaking during the burial of Oneko’s wife in Kunya village, Rarieda sub-county, said there were bigger positions than the governorship. Orengo was caught up in a war of words with Bondo MP Ochanda on the happenings of 2013 party nominations and how they settled for a gubernatorial candidate. While Ochanda dismissed calls for dialogue or consensus as an approach for electing the next county boss, his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amollo said it will be imperative for the political class to sit and agree on how to share the county seats. MP Ochanda narrated to the mourners how a similar approach led the county into a stalemate, which then resulted in Governor Rasanga coming into the picture as the party’s candidate, against the wishes of residents.
“In 2012, we were with Oduol, Orengo, and former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo in one camp. Oduol and I were eyeing the Governor’s seat, while Orengo had interest in the Senate seat and we campaigned. Orengo and Midiwo always told us our issue with Oduol would be sorted,” narrated Ochanda. He recalled that on December 13, 2012, a lot of issues cropped in when they were campaigning in Gem when Midiwo said the party had decided that Oburu would be the candidate. “This is the reason I cannot trust any issue of dialogue on who will fly the party ticket for the race because the same people calling for dialogue are the ones who messed us up in 2013. I will not accept and I will not be a party to it. I will support someone who has interest of the people at heart,” he stated. Ochanda claimed that there are certain things that happened in 2013 during nominations that must not happen again for they are meant to deceive people and drive them away from the party.
But an angry Orengo, who was speaking on the county gubernatorial succession politics for the first time dismissed Ochanda and asked him to also publicly tell the people the exact things that had happened in Bondo sub-county during the 2013 party primaries. “Ochanda, when telling a story gave the full picture of what happened. You should also tell these people how you became MP. You are not telling us how you won,” said Orengo. Orengo argued that any member of ODM party who has declared interest to run for the top county seat should be allowed to do so Gumbo is so far the only person who has so far come out in the open over the issue. Gumbo contested for the seat in the 2017 general elections but lost narrowly to Rasanga. He filed a petition in the high court but lost. Gumbo is so far the front runner for the seat as the clock ticks towards 2022. Rasanga is said to be gunning for either the Senate of the position of Nyanza regional governor if such a position is created courtesy of the building bridges initiative.
Former Bondo Member of Parliament Dr. Oburu Oginga is also said to be keen on becoming the Senator if Orengo guns for the position of governor. Oginga gunned the gubernatorial seat in 2013 but lost in the primaries to Oduol amidst protests from both sides. Rasanga was handed in the party ticket as a compromise candidate while Oginga was later nominated to parliament. The Governor beat Gumbo in the last polls amidst stiff opposition from the former legislator. It was earlier believed that former Cabinet MinisterTuju who is also a former Rarieda Mp would also be gunning for the position of Governor even though he has been silent over the matter. Other reports have indicated that Oburu Odinga will be returning to his former Bondo seat after Ochanda performed dismally during his ten-year hiatus as an elected Mp. But insiders say that Oginga is fronting for his son Jaoko Oburu to take over from Ochanda come 2022. Jaoko is an executive in the government of Rasanga where he is in charge of public works.
Orengo though not development conscious will be banking on his relationship with Odinga to catapult himself into office. Keen observers believe that the position of Governor would be better; left for a technocrat like Tuju who is development conscious. Tuju is credited with the initiation of numerous development projects in Rarieda between 2002 and 2007. Sources say plans were underway for Orengo to meet Ugenya elders over his next political dispensation. It is believed the Senator will seek the elders’ blessings before publicly declaring his interest to the electorate… The Senator, unlike his competitors, will be riding on his vast experience in politics and vicious advocacy for democracy in the country. But his move is unlikely to go down well with some county leaders who have publicly declared their preferred candidates in the race. Gumbo has warned ODM officials against endorsing any candidate in the guise of loyalty to the party or its leader Raila Odinga. Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has hinted that ODM will not gamble with the Siaya governor seat, the county being Raila’s backyard.
According to a section of Siaya residents, Orengo is likely to enjoy the support of ODM. Wandayi and Siaya woman representative Christine Ombaka are among leaders who have endorsed Orengo saying he has been tried and tested. Siaya is largely ODM and residents have always been rallied to vote in a six-piece model in favour of the Orange party. This means all candidates will fight hard to clinch the party’s ticket at the primaries come 2022The governor seat has emerged as one of the most lucrative owing to the power trappings that come with the office. At the constituency level, Gem Mp Elisha Odhiambo is to face Midiwo who has defected back to ODM. It is not clear why Wandayi would be keen on taking on Orengo by the horns given the senator’s high stature politically. Ugunja MP Dave Ochieng is said to be keen on defending his seat with the same case in Rarieda where the incumbent Otiende Amollo enjoys both support of Odinga and his followers due to his pivotal role in the presidential election petition filed after the 2017 general polls.
In Alego Usonga has emerged that area lawmaker Atandi could face tough hurdles defending his seat in the 2022 general elections. According to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) officials in Siaya county, the vocal parliamentarian seems to be losing his popularity to a newcomer. Siaya ODM youth official Charles Onguko says that Atandi is facing opposition from Martin Otieno alias Mijesh, a newcomer who is very keen on unseating him in the much-anticipated race. He added that the same has seen the vocal leader become furious with area leaders and politicians seemingly allied to Mijeshi. This follows allegations that Atandi hired goons to attack a nominated Member of County Assembly (MCA) last year With such grave allegations about the lawmaker renting the air, it is believed he is losing his popularity and respect by the locals as Mijeshi uses the opportune moment to make himself popular.