Do or die political contests are expected as ODM kicks off party primaries Thursday with fierce competition for gubernatorial seats in at least eight counties.
The nominations begin in Busia County where incumbent Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is fighting for his survival against outgoing Funyula MP Paul Otuoma.
Campaigns in Busia have been marred with violence as the two fight it out in a race focused on the governor’s performance for the last four years.
Busia, Kisumu, Nairobi, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori are marked political hotspots in these nominations, especially in areas perceived to be ODM zones.
Already, the party has directly nominated 16 people according to the list presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after other aspirants failed to show up to challenge them in the nominations.
The 16 include governors James Ongwae (Kisii), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Evans Kidero (Nairobi).
The party will field candidates in 26 out of the 47 counties in the coming elections.
“We are prepared to ensure a credible exercise. We were ready to proceed from last week but had to change because the IEBC insisted we follow their timelines,” said ODM National Elections Board chairperson Judy Pareno.
Ms Pareno said the party had made proper preparations for the primaries though there were complaints in other quarters.
“As the National Elections Board, we are determined to improve where we may have gone wrong in the past for the betterment of our party and the integrity of the process,” she said.
The party will take eight days conducting primaries in about 30 counties around the country for various positions including county assembly seats.
“It is with this background that the National Elections Board wishes to announce that the much anticipated party primaries will officially kick off tomorrow (today) as earlier scheduled. The exercise will be held in Busia, Bungoma and Machakos counties on day one,” said Ms Pareno.
A duel is expected in Homa Bay County between Governor Cyprian Awiti and outgoing Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga. Former National Intelligence Service finance director Sammy Wakiaga, city based logistics expert Enosh Bollo and Cosmas Kanyadudi are also eying the same seat.
In Migori the battle is expected between the incumbent governor, Mr Okoth Obado, and former Cabinet minister Ochilo Ayacko.The two have two other challengers, Anne Anyanga and Paul Odola, seeking to eclipse them in the nominations.
In Siaya, Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo is mounting the biggest battle to oust incumbent, Mr Cornel Rasanga, who is believed to be a close ally of nominated MP Oburu Oginga.
The race has split the Odinga family with Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo backing Mr Gumbo while Dr Oburu has stuck with the incumbent.
The Kisumu race is expected to generate a spectacular contest as it may be listed as a career killed if outgoing senator Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o’s bid for governorship fails or if incumbent Jack Ranguma’s fight to defend the seat aborts.
Mr Hezron Mackobewa, Aomo Nyangara, Gordon Okumu and Christopher Ondiek are also in the race.
Unlike in Kisii, in Nyamira County there is no free ride for the incumbent. Governor John Nyagarama and former assistant minister James Gesami are battling for the control of devolution billions at the county. Mr John Aboko is also in pursuit of the same seat.
Nothing is free in Kwale either where four aspirants, Isaah Athuman, Mohamed Mwarapayo, Sammy Ruwa and James Dena are in the race for governorship after area governor Salim Mvurya joined Jubilee.
Defend Senate seat
Siaya Senator James Orengo, who previously indicated he would contest for the gubernatorial race, appears to have decided to defend his Senate seat.
But there are two opponents seeking to halt is lengthy political career: Margaret Aketch and Clement Argwings Kodhek.
In Kisumu, Nyando MP Fred Outa is fighting for the senate seat with Israel Kodiaga, James Ogoda, Rose Omondi and Tom Ndalo.
Interestingly, Mr Outa is also listed as a candidate for Nyando parliamentary seat, the same as Steward Mdazayo who appears to be running for both Kilifi South seat and Kilifi county senatorial seat.
In Homa Bay, Fred Rabongo, who is allied to governor Cyprian Awiti, is fighting to oust Moses Kajwang’, elected to complete his late brother Moses Kajwang’s term in 2015.
In Migori there are 11 aspirants fighting to take over from Dr Richard Machage who decamped from ODM to DP a few months ago.
Radio presenter Ben Oluoch Okelo, Dickson Ogola, Charles Ochieng, Michael Ogola, Eddy Gicheru, Ochieng Mbeo, John Magaiywa, Fred Ogolla, Solomon Rugaria and Maurice Obunga, Kennedy Oluoch are fighting it out for the party ticket.
In Kakamega, the race is pitting Seth Panyako against Kenneth Kochwa and Justus Wabuyabo while in Busia Amos Wako was given direct ticket to defend the seat.
The race is tighter in the national assembly position where between three and 10 aspirants are competing in many of the constituencies.
In Ugenya former Standard Editor David Ohito is battling against five other candidates, including businessman Christopher Karan.
Campaigns in Ruaraka have been bloody with nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro fighting to unseat incumbent Tom Kajwang’.
Mr Midiwo, who is defending his Gem seat, has four other candidates standing against him including Elisha Odhiambo, Julius Okinda, Joseph Rading and Phebeans Weya.
In Bondo, Dr Oginga is up to reclaim his seat with the battle expected between him and incumbent Gideon Ochanda.
Dr Oginga has dismissed claims he would be favoured over the other candidates due to his relationship with Mr Odinga.
“I am investing everything in this race. I am competing with the others, the issue of direct ticket is nonsense,” he said.
Former ombudsman Otiende Amolo is up to grab the vacant Rarieda slot after Mr Gumbo chose to contest the governorship.
Incumbent Ken Mirenga is battling for his survival against seven other candidates, including businessman Richard Ogendo.
In Kabondo Kasipul, Silvance Osele is facing opposition from seven others including Eve Obara and former MP Paddy Ahenda while in Karachuonyo 17 candidates are out to replace former MP James Rege who has decided not to contest after joining Jubilee.
In Rongo, incumbent Dalmas Otieno Anyango is facing the stiffest competition ever with his rival Paul Abuor and former University of Nairobi student leader David Osiany on his neck.
ODM chairman John Mbadi is equally fighting for his life in Suba where former Chief of Staff in the PM’s office Caroli Omondi has mounted a well-oiled campaign against him.