Top Stories / Counties
Thursday, 06 Apr 2017 17:51 EATnmuthoni@kenyafreepress.com
The Mombasa governorship race has become more competitive following the defection of Nyali MP Hezron Awiti from Wiper party to the Vibrant Democratic Party. Mr Awiti had been vying with the Mombasa senator Hassan Omar for the nomination of the Wiper party.
The gubernatorial seat has attracted four candidates who are taking the race down to the ballot box, with incumbent Hassan Joho from the ODM seen as favourite to win. Jubilee Party has hitched on the horse of Suleiman Shahbal, while Senator Omar will ride the Wiper wagon and Mr Awiti running on his new party, which is yet unknown in the city.
For weeks, Mr Omar was angling for the Jubilee vote against Joho but that seemed now to be untenable following Jubilee's strong support for Mr Shahbal. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are strongly supporting the former ODM member who, like Mr Omar, defected from the Raila Odinga-led party following controversial nominations for the 2013 general elections.
Mr Shahbal is very rich politician, the government support he enjoys this time around will bouy his candidature. He also has a popular running mate in the person of Anania Mwaboza, former Kisauni MP. On his part, Joho is very strong and has complete support of ODM and enjoys the benefits of incumbency. His repeated collisions with President Uhuru have raised his stature among locals.
Mr Awiti, though strong in his own right, is a long shot for governorship and can only play the role of a spoiler. He has lost significant following in the region after a video of him delivering a speech before President Uhuru Kenyatta during the opening of English Point Marina went viral in the last two weeks.
In the six minute speech, Mr Awiti famously known as “jobo jobo”, is heard making countless grammatical errors leading to many questioning his educational level. The message being popularised by the governor's supporters is that the government's preoccupation with Governor Joho's academic qualifications was political.
He begun by saying, “Thank you the governor of Mombasa for give me chance at least to welcome the president of the Republic of Kenya his excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, the chief of staff, his Excellency, the ladies, the cabinets Najib Balala and all the cabinets, my colleagues, member of parliament you’re welcome to Nyali Constituency.”
Witnessing the rising momentum in favour of Mr Joho, Mr Omar today released this statement that for the first time since 2016 saw him expressing robust support for the NASA while trying to denigrate Joho’s suitability for the office. “Now as a candidate in the race for Mombasa governor it is necessary to compartmentalize or isolate the different narratives to ensure the residents of Mombasa make an objective and critical choice.
"On emotions without sound rationale, Joho probably wins. On an issue-oriented and performance campaign, Joho crushes menacingly. Whereas some issues are possibly legitimate, the incumbent governor has managed to play victim on all issues, legitimate or otherwise. In the circumstances, Jubilee must now put to rest all its impending theatrics and allow the residents of Mombasa the benefit of an issue-based and performance-oriented campaign," he said.
Perhaps mischievously, Mr Omar also promised voters that the NASA government would apprehend Governor Joho for forging KCSE certificate. "The NASA government will punish impunity. All alleged travesties by Governor Joho and more particularly the forgery of his KCSE certificate to illegally gain entry into the university will be punished in the early days of NASA’s administration. The facts are glaring and NASA will not condone impunity by any person no matter his station in life or status in society. But for now, let Governor Joho be on the ballot and let the residents of Mombasa have an issue-based performance-oriented political season.”
Mr Omar also digs into Jubilee Party. “Jubilee stands a negligible chance of making any meaningful impact on Mombasa’s politics. The battle for the heart and soul of Mombasa is therefore an in-house affair of the National Super Alliance (NASA). Wiper shares with the overwhelming majority of the residents of Mombasa in their discontent, displeasure and dissatisfaction in the manner in which Mombasa County is poorly managed or governed.
The only impact Jubilee can have which has been manifest in the last couple of months is negative. Jubilee’s obsession with Governor Hassan Ali Joho has or is providing fodder to divert the conversation of the county and its politics from real hardcore developmental conversations to an emotive one.”