Front runners in next year’s presidential contest, Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM)’s Raila Odinga and United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA)’s William Ruto are already desperately fighting for the crucial Luhya vote, however, this time around the region may front a strong presidential candidate in Musalia Mudavadi
The populous former Western Province now divided into four counties of Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, parts of Trans Nzoia and Kakamega has for decades been perceived as “Gold Mine” by presidential candidates from the rest of Kenya in their quest for the presidency since independence to date.
The region is the country’s second-leading in voter population after Central Kenya and has sadly been left to play second fiddle in the country’s contest for the presidency over the decades. The region is home to the Luhyia, Teso and Mt. Elgon Maasai. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) census and Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) statistics indicate that the Luhyia are the second leading community in numbers to the Kikuyu.
However, the critical equation here is the fact that the Luhyia votes are perennially perceived as fractious and divided each electioneering year compared to the Kikuyu, thus an easy pick for presidential candidates from outside the region. These are perceptions that have yet to be put to rest.
Already, front runners in next year’s presidential contest, Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM)’s Raila Odinga and United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA)’s William Ruto are desperately fighting for the crucial Luhya vote. Raila Odinga heavily harvested from the “fractious and divided Luhyia vote” through ODM/NASA candidature in the last elections and he hopes to reap even more next year, while William Ruto is banking on the power of his financial and the “Hustler” movement to reap from the region.
However, this time around the region may front a strong presidential candidate in Musalia Mudavadi of the OKA alliance. During the last elections, Mudavadi Mudavadi was Raila Odinga’s Chief Campaigner for the presidency; they ended up losing to Jubilee’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The same Musalia Mudavadi also campaigned for President Kenyatta in his 2002 bid for the Presidency though they lost to Mwai Kibaki. The emergence of Okoa Kenya Alliance (OKA) roping in Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-Kenya’s Wetangula may spoil the maths for Raila and Ruto if they manage to stick together.
What is clear is the fact that this time around the Luhyia vote is not going to be just a “political goldmine” for any Tom, Dick, and Harry to exploit as has been the case over the decades.
Indeed there is clear evidence of this if the recent parliamentary by-elections are anything to go by. In Matungu East of Kakamega county and Bungoma’s Kabuchai constituencies, in Kabuchai Mr Majimbo Kalasinga of Ford-Kenya won the seat with 19, 274 representing 65 per cent of the votes cast against his closest challenger DP Ruto’s UDA candidate Evans Kakai who got 6, 455 that is 22 per cent. The same month saw ANC’s Peter Nabulindo win the Matungu East constituency seat with 14, 260 against his closest contenders Raila ODM’s David Were with 10, 565 and Ruto’s UDA candidate Alex Lanya coming a distant third with a mere 5, 513 votes.
These were and remain un-contested results in the heart of Luhyialand although Raila Odinga with the might of the then Council of Governor’s (CoG) chair and Kakamega county governor Wycliffe Oparanya campaigned tooth and nail.
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