Governors demand 2017 direct tickets
COUNTY BOSSES SAY THEY HAVE BEEN FUNDING PARTIES
Uhuru and Raila have promised to hold free and fair party primaries
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have a fresh headache in common — powerful and influential Jubilee and Cord governors want direct tickets.
At least 15 have said they want and deserve to bypass primaries and the people’s will.
But both Jubilee and ODM, extremely worried about the fairness of nominations, have said they won’t play favourites and no one gets a free ride.
That remains to be seen as political dynamics shift.
Political analysts predict a nominations debacle for leading parties.
Pressure for free tickets is intense but granting them will likely create a revolt, stoke anger that nominations are not open, free and fair — and lead to defections and disarray.
The biggest problem is in JP and ODM strongholds where county chiefs are pleading for direct tickets so they are spared competition.
That way they can devote all their energies to Uhuru and Raila’s presidential campaigns — without the distraction of campaigning and proving themselves.
And, of course, to complete and initiate development projects. And serve the electorate heart and soul.
Governors control billions of shillings and exercise considerable power. They have been getting almost Sh10 billion from the Treasury every financial year for four years. Many have become very wealthy in the first four years of their terms.
Driven by the desire to control public resources, hundreds of people are nipping at their heels, expressing interest in the 47 governors’ offices.
In fact, county bosses have been engines driving party popularity, sponsoring many events that have kept the big two vibrant around the country. Direct nominations, they say, will both reward them and give them incentive to do more for their parties and leaders.
ODM Governors Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and Migori Governor Okoth Obado,who recently joined from PDP, have told the Star they want direct tickets.
On the Jubilee side Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua has said he speaks for at least 10 Rift Valley colleagues who want rewards for their good work, and motivation.
Both Uhuru and Raila have been telling supporters — to the dismay of many — that all candidates will compete in free and fair primaries and only the most popular candidates will get tickets.
Uhuru says the IEBC will conduct Jubilee Party nominations.
Governors say direct tickets will boost their chances of reelection. They say one five-year term is not enough to complete their projects.
After enactment of the anti-party hopping law — which prevents nomination losers from jumping to other outfits — governors have quietly been pushing to be assured of tickets
‘WE SPENT MORE THAN HALF OUR TERMS ESTABLISHING GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURES. WITH DEVOLUTION BEING NEW, WE WOULD HAVE DONE MUCH, BUT WE CAN DO MORE IF OUR PARTIES ALLOW US AN OPPORTUNITY’
within their parties, since they lack fallback positions if they lose.
By law, nomination losers cannot switch parties, nor can a primary loser run as an independent. County chiefs are thus aligning themselves with popular coalitions in their strongholds.
Nakuru Governor Mbugua says most governors have visionary plans that could be abandoned if they are not re-elected.
TASTED POWER, LIKED IT
“We spent more than half our terms establishing government and administrative structures. With devolution being new, we would have done much, but we can do more if our parties allow us an opportunity,” said Kinuthia, who was elected on a TNA ticket. TNA folded and merged with Jubilee.
“The governors have tasted power and they want to do whatever they can to retain it. It is not surprising they want to be given direct nomination,” said Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, himself a candidate for Busia governor. “This [direct tickets] will be wrong because then every first-term elected leader will demand the same. Let them compete.”
But yesterday, Mbugua said, “Direct nominations will free us so we can campaign for the President and his deputy.”
Uhuru and Ruto launched the Jubilee Party, a merger of more than 10 parties. Raila has kicked off the process of registering Cord as a corporate party, without affiliates merging.
Obado was initially in ODM but defected to PDP following disputed nominations. He went ahead to win.
“I plead our party leader Raila to allow incumbent governors of Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Migori counties be given direct ODM tickets,” Rasanga said.
Devolution is new and they have spent most of their time learning about the new system of governance. “We deserve a second chance,” Rasanga said.
“I have initiated a number of development projects but I will do more if am re-elected,” Awiti said. He said his ambitious projects would be completed in less than five years.
ODM has unveiled an elaborate strategy to involve its governors in presidential campaigns. But it could face headwinds should the party reject direct tickets. Raila is is on whirlwind tours across the counties through highly publicised rallies, mostly funded by governors, to connect with voters at the grassroots.
Raila has toured Mombasa, where Governor Hassan Joho showcased his central role in the Cord leader’s presidential campaigns.
Raila has also pitched tent in Kakamega, Busia, Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Kisumu and will be in Kisii this Saturday for a major youth conference. Governor James Ongwae is to market the opposition chief in a county facing sustained Jubilee onslaught.
Ranguma said subjecting governors to primaries will distract them from presidential campaigns.
“My main aim is to ensure Raila wins the presidency. Getting direct tickets will give us the opportunity to campaign for Raila everywhere more effectively,” Ranguma said.
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Governors Zachary Obado (Migori), Justus Malombe (Kitui), David Nkedienye (Kajiado), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), John Mruttu (Taita Taveta), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru) and Josphat Nanok (Turkana) at UN Gigiri during a stakeholders’ consultative meetingon November 5, 2015