A Kenya Today News Analysis.
As Wandayi-for‐Governor chants have grow louder in recent days, those of Senator Orengo-for-Governor have gone mute.
In a space of just three months, Hon Opiyo Wandayi received his biggest endorsement from Rt Hon Raila Odinga who publicly said the Ugunja MP is fit to be Deputy Prime Minister. Many interpreted this to mean Wandayi is bigger than the Siaya gubernatorial seat but knowing Baba’s politics, and recalling two of ODM’s Deputy Party Leaders are outgoing Governors, this meant one thing; Wandayi is rated in top tier political forces not just in Nyanza region but nationally.
Wandayi’s growing political clout can be seen in some of the important errands he runs for the ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga who has entrusted the Ugunja MP by delegating to him tasks that would ordinarily be undertaken by senior party officials. Wandayi led a successful diplomatic campaign to bring back party rebels who defected enmass from ODM following contentious nominations in 2017.
Wandayi’s other public endorsements have come from the hugely influential Mama Ida Odinga and Dr Oburu Odinga who have both praised his work in Ugunja Constituency and severally hosted him in Bondo, the unofficial White House of Kenya.
Around Siaya, as the number of MCAs who used to flock around Senator Orengo continue to dwindle, those around Wandayi continue to rise; and Siaya MCAs led by the Speaker George Okode and Majority Leader Odero K’Oor have both paid hommage to Wandayi.
As if to drive the point home, numerous elected and nominated MCAs from Ugunja, Gem, Alego, Ugenya and as far as Bondo and Rarieda have publicly and so emphatically endorsed Wandayi-for-Governor. Some, like nominated MCAs Winnie Otieno, Andrew Omwende and Ben Adala have vowed to force Wandayi’s gubernatorial candidature.
Other not so hidden endorsements have come from former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo whom Raila nominated to serve as BBI Coordinator in Nyanza region. Jakoyo has been to Ugunja several times to support the work of Wandayi.
The second Ugunja MP who also serves as Chairman of PAC has emerged as a top performing legislator in the August House. Wandayi was rated top rated MP by two national opinion polling firms and won the best MP award in recent County Gala Awards.
In vernacular FM stations, Wandayi’s interviews draw positive audiences from far and wide, with popular hosts like Festus Amimo Wuod Awasi’s Gari Mokinyi show inundated with callers praising his development work in Ugunja and urging that he goes for governor.
On the ground, the Wandayi’s popularity has grown tremendously and those who opposed him in previous elections are avoiding a direct confrontation with him preferring instead to urge that he goes for governor and leave Ugunja in safe hands, a desperate call for endorsement.
On the other hand, only commentator Makamu wa Makamu once endorsed Senator Orengo before being silenced by a terse statement from Capital Hill which demanded an end to premature campaigns in Siaya.
Apart from former MP Nicholas Gumbo, none of the current legislators have openly confirmed their candidature preferring to play with cards close to their chests. But clearly, the front-running Ugunja MP will either be candidate or kingmaker in 2022 given his affinity and popularity among voting masses in Siaya County.