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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Awiti’s governor bid has backers and trashers

Talk by Nyali MP Hezron Awiti that he will contest for governor of the city port of Mombasa held by Hassan Joho has caused excitement in certain quarters.
Some Mombasa county voters see the emerging development as a perfect opportunity to showcase serious political competition which eventually would result into better services being offered by the winner. Awiti is perceived to be the perfect match for Joho.
During the last campaigns for the Nyali seat, Awiti who was making his debut in parliamentary politics ran one of the most oiled and high profile campaigns ever witnessed in the port city for an MP. At the time, many were left wondering as to whether Awiti was a gubernatorial candidate or just MP. His campaigns  overshadowed those of his opponents in Nyali to the extent that they were unable to block his victory by whichever tricks.
It is against this background that Awiti’s moves are being closely monitored by Joho’s camp. MCAs who are secretly dealing with Awiti and at the same time pretending to be supporting the governor are being identified and punished, it is said. A fortnight ago, the Kasandani ward rep, one Kandanda who allegedly received Sh100,000 from the MP and went ahead to criticise Mombasa county government at a public rally in Nyali constituency was hurriedly removed as the county assembly chief whip.
Sources say a Nissan X-trail vehicle and bodyguards assigned to him were immediately withdrawn awaiting his being formally voted out from his position when the assembly resumed sittings last week. However, even as the MCA was being punished, sources say six other Mombasa MCAs are at the call and beck of Awiti and that they regularly feed him with sensitive information from the county.
But even as Awiti plots to be Mombasa governor, it has emerged, the issue is becoming emotive. A Mombasa businessman, Hassan Mohammed, says the Nyali MP’s candidature is ill informed. He says if Awiti will contest for governor, Mombasa residents will not vote for Raila Odinga for president.
He adds that Mombasa governor’s seat should be left to the ‘owners’ of the city, saying outsiders should not try to snatch leadership positions from local communities.
“I urge him to be contented with what he has. All over the country, the governor positions are held by people who hail from those places. Why should Mombasa be the exception? We will not allow it to happen,” he said.
However, Eric Wambua, a supporter of Awiti dismissed the notion that Mombasa is for a particular people. He said Mombasa is cosmopolitan and cannot be said to belong to a select few. He added that upcountry people have equal rights with whoever claims to be the owner.
“Everyone in Mombasa came from somewhere. We have people who came from Oman, Zanzibar, Tanga and Pemba and others from Machakos, Kisumu, and Kiambu among other towns of Kenya to undertake an economic activity. Does it mean, those who came from as far as Oman or Zanzibar should be considered to be more local than the rest from Kenya?”  posed Wambua.
He added that the same way Nairobi governor Evans Kidero was elected to head the capital city, Awiti can be elected to govern the gateway city.
In the last general elections, Raila was used by Mombasa tycoons to prevail and put pressure on Awiti to shelve his bid for Nyali seat after they convinced the Cord leader that if a Luo contested in Mombasa, it would reflect badly on his presidential candidature. Awiti rejected calls to step down and when he was denied ODM ticket, he crossed over to Wiper and won the seat. At the time, he said Raila had no right to ask him to step down.