Veteran advocate Tom Ojienda’s decision to contest the Kisumu senatorial seat has set tongues wagging and may bring a new twist to political calculations in the county ahead of the General Election next year.
Last week, Prof Ojienda’s posters were doing the rounds on social media platforms and at the weekend he declared publicly that he is in the race.
Besides Prof Ojienda, former Muhoroni MP Patrick Ayiecho Olweny has also declared his interest in the Senate seat.
Also interested are Milton Ogada and Phillip Pande, 28, a youth advocate working with young people across the country.
Prof Ojienda hails from Nyakach while Prof Olweny comes from Muhoroni. The two men are both said to be in good books with Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o. The county boss fell out with incumbent Senator Fred Outa.
With over two decades of experience in the corridors of justice and having handled high-profile cases, Prof Ojienda is hoping to use his close relations with many politicians to achieve his goal.
But his rivals are already referring to him as a greenhorn in politics.
Prof Olweny claimed some individuals usually go for elective positions for power, money or to seek protection.
“It is their [aspirants] freedom to contest the seat, but some of these positions need experience in politics. This is why Prof Nyong’o is excelling, because he has been in politics, has the networks locally and abroad, can articulate issues well and is in good books with the national government,” Prof Olweny said.
Governor Nyong’o was the first senator of Kisumu before Mr Outa took over in 2017. Mr Outa is eyeing the governor’s seat in the next election.
Mr Pande is among the pioneers of the Lake Basin Innovation and Investment Week, which boasts as the largest annual entrepreneurship gathering in the lake region.
It was founded to annually showcase youth and women-led innovations so they can gain new markets and access capital.
Mr Pande is from Kisumu East sub-county and said he has joined the race with the endorsement of the Kisumu Youth Caucus, which he claimed is the largest young people’s network in the county.
He said he believes voters will give him a chance and have young people in decision-making platforms.
Without naming names, he took a swipe at his rivals, saying the people will decide whether to recycle ‘rickety ideas’ or to go with creative and innovative options with the 21st century capacity to accelerate pro-grassroots policies and people-driven development.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) figures on the last General Election show that Kisumu County had 539,210 registered voters.
Kisumu Central constituency leads with 120,000, followed by Kisumu East (81,538), Kisumu West (74,439), Nyando (71,680), Muhoroni (69,091), Nyakach (68,884) and Seme (53,555).
All the candidates have vowed to contest on Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and will face each other in primaries, which they hope will be free, fair and credible.
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