Gov­er­nors de­mand 2017 di­rect tick­ets

COUNTY BOSSES SAY THEY HAVE BEEN FUND­ING PAR­TIES

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - BY JAMES MBAKA @onchir­im­baka

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.

PARTY-HOP­PING HEADACHE

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.

PHOTO/ JOSEPH JAMENYA

MOB JUS­TICE Mbale po­lice res­cue three sus­pected rob­bers from lynch­ing

/ PA­TRICK VIDIJA

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

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