Save for Kisii and Kuria Nyanza where political equation is based on clan arithmetic beyond financial resources and party, Luo Nyanza politics is undergoing a silent evolution as residents move beyond ‘Raila patronage’ to a mix of popularity, money and ideas.
For the last two decades, politicians would be elected mainly based on their perceived closeness and deference to Mr. Odinga, who was then seen as the architecture for the development of the region and whose prescriptions for change and progress were taken as law.
The Luo stood together for a national cause, so they believed, and forgave the little “mistakes” here and there that maintained an Odinga quo, despite the silent rebellion arising from accusations of unfairness and favouritism by Odinga himself, or those who had taken over the party machine around him.
This history dates back to Jaramogi; who also had a penchant for picking and endorsing loyalists, much to the chagrin of others. Few MPs in Luo Nyanza will this year be re-elected based on their association with, or loyalty to Odinga.
Even fewer will buy their way in.
As Odinga increasingly fades and the Luo ‘giving up’ on national politics, focus is turning to individual politicians and what they can offer, as well as the resources they can muster to wage a campaign war.
These resources are still not as earth-shaking as those employed by say Kikuyu or Kalenjin politicians seeking same seats. Few aspirants are taking to the sky. None has the money to outrightly buy his way with the people.
A number of constituencies have attracted fairly “moneyed men”, mostly businessmen, or ‘investors’ as they are often referred to, and career civil servants.
MPs facing tough re-election battles include ODM Chairman John Mbadi (Suba), Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Ken Obura (Kisumu Central), Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Shakkil Shabbir (Kisumu East), Omondi Muluan (Alego Usonga), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach) Omondi Anyanga (Nyatike) and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo).
Others are Woman Rep Rose Nyamunga (Kisumu) and Dennita Ghati (Migori). The MPs for Rangwe, Uriri, Awendo, Kasipul Kabondo, Ugenya, Ndhiwa and Muhoroni also face tough races.
Focus will be on the ODM National Elections Board which is expected to conduct credible nomination to forestall a massive fallout and voter apathy in the region.