A large number of second-term governors want to influence their succession, either openly or tacitly supporting preferred candidates for party nominations.
This is why Maendeleo Chap Chap and Pamoja African Alliance, led by Governors Alfred Mutua and Amason Kingi, are fighting to break away from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.
It’s no surprise, as second-term governors are increasingly vocal against zoning regions for political parties where only one candidate can run.
Like other second-term governors, the two want to consolidate their influence in the regions they represent and are opposed to the zoning of regions proposed by the Azimio kingpins.
But why are they so interested in who will take over after they leave office?
Many of them were pro-development, while others were criticized for wasting public money and not dealing with corruption.
Some have shown questionable performance throughout the two terms, while others have been taken to court on alleged corruption charges.
The second-term governors are spread across the two main political divides; Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya and William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Those deeply involved in Azimio One Kenya politics include Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), James Ongwae (Kisii), Hassan Ali Joho (Mombasa), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia).
Kenya Kwanza has the likes of Mutua, Kingi, Samuel Tunai (Narok), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Martin Wambora (Embu). All are serving second terms.
In Migori, Gov. Okoth Obado has launched a campaign against ODM candidate Ochillo Ayacko, claiming he is an outsider because he hails from neighboring Homa Bay County.
He claims that ODM candidate Ochillo Ayacko is an outsider from neighboring Homa Bay and should therefore be rejected by voters.
“It will be sad for Migori to elect a governor who comes and wreaks havoc on things. We can decide who will inherit my seat and we will make sure we get the right candidate,” he said at a recent event at Migori Stadium.
In Busia, it’s no secret that Ojaamong’s hand was shown in the recent ODM nominations for the gubernatorial race, which was won by his former rival Paul Otuoma.
Otuoma won by 49,330 votes to women’s representative Florence Mutua with 30,696, with the majority of her votes coming from Ojaamong’s stronghold Teso South.
Ahead of the primaries, Ojaamong had asked the ODM party to give Mutua a direct ticket to the gubernatorial contest.
However, Otuoma hit back, saying Ojaamong should be the last person to impose a person on the Busia people
Now Ojaamong is said to support Kenyan Kwanza candidate Sakwa Bunyasi, who is a member of Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC).
Former Teso South MP Arthur Odera cited a recent call by Busia’s ODM party secretary Innocent Oluku, a staunch Ojaamong supporter, for county voters to vote for Bunyasi.
At an event held by Mutua to award scholarships to needy children at Busia Airstrip Primary School, Oluku said Bunyasi was better qualified to be governor.
“In Luhya culture, the eldest son is said to be served a gizzard, but an elder must be present even if he is not your father, and so it is the elder candidate (bunyasi) who deserves the gizzard,” Oluku said .
In Mombasa, Joho was actively involved in the talks that resolved the standoff in Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya between Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir and politician Suleiman Shahbal.
Former longtime citizen leader Omar Mbwana Kazungu Hassan says all outgoing governors want loyalists who will give them a positive image once they leave office.
“Joho has worked tirelessly to get Nassir the ticket because they work closely together at ODM and both are more trusted by party leader Raila Odinga,” says Mbwana.
In Kwale, Mvurya began campaigning for his deputy Fatuma Achani immediately after they won the 2017 gubernatorial race, which they won by a wide margin.
She ran with an ODM ticket in 2013 before defecting to Jubilee and winning again in 2017.
In Kilifi, Governor Kingi is struggling with his ODM party over the support he has thrown behind attorney George Kithi, who is running in the governor’s PAA party.
This means Azimio-One Kenya will have two candidates, Malindi CAS Gideon Mung’aro (ODM) and Kithi taking on Kenya Kwanza’s Aisha Jumwa.
In Kakamega, Oparanya burned the midnight oil to ensure that first his former deputy Prof. Philip Kutima, who had moved from ODM to DAP-K, returned to the herd to support his preferred candidate Fernandes Barasa.
And in Kisii, Ongwae is said to be working hard to mitigate the damage caused when Dagoretti MP Simba Arati received the ODM ticket.
Political analyst Prof. Amukowa Anangwe says some governors want people covering skeletons in their closets while continuing to benefit from the county’s resources.
“Some have performed well and naturally want to be inherited by people who are attached to them for continuity,” adds Anangwe.
“It’s been talked about that someone who fought hard to get his preferred successor a nomination ticket has demanded to be given 50 percent of the county executive committee seats,” says Wanjala Kubebea, former lecturer for Masinde Muliro.
Some also want to sit back and avoid prosecution for either robbing public coffers or for continuing to enjoy greater generosity among their successors.
“It’s a matter of choice, but they’ve critically analyzed the political environment in their districts, and as a result, some have become more realistic and opted for less attractive seats,” says Kubebea.