As was the case in 2013, the 2017 race for various seats in Kisii county has been tailored on carefully crafted power-sharing alliances that sought to address clan and regional interests.
In the last election, ODM, which won all the top county slots, the governor’s seat went to Abagetutu, Deputy Governor (Abamachoge), Senator (Ababasi), Women Rep (Abanchari), County Assembly Speaker (Abanyaribari) and county secretary (Abagirango).
Thus, former Permanent secretary James Ongwae became the governor, Joash Maangi (Deputy Governor), Chris Obure (Senator), Mary Otara (Women Representative), Kerosi Ondieki (County Speaker) and Johnstone Ndege (County Secretary).
TNA fielded lawyer Lumumba Nyaberi for governor and Prof Sam Ongeri for Senator but their camp failed to beat the ODM brigade. This year, the dynamics have changed with Ongeri, who is vying for senator decamping to ODM swapping places with Obure.
Otara, who had also defected to Jubilee, was defeated by radio presenter Doris Donya Toto. She is running as an independent. Ongeri teamed up with, among others, Nominated Senator Janet Ong’era who is vying for the Women’s Representative.
However, it is also true that historically, no two top politicians from Nyaribari have smoothly worked together politically, a trend that goes back to the days of Lawrence Sagini and James Nyamweya.
The two are even said to have lost on a chance to be appointed vice president when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta sought to replace Jaramogi Oginga Odinga after failing on who among them was to take the job.
While the Abagetutu and Abanyaribari have historically been antagonistic, it would be interesting to see how the partnership by Ongeri and Ongwae will determine the contest. The race between Ongeri, Nyachae and former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara will also be an interesting one.
Both Ongeri and Nyachae come from Nyaribari while Magara is likely to benefit yet again from a feeling by voters from the southern parts of Kisii that they have long been dominated by their Nyaribari brothers to boost his chances.