Two governors at the Coast have differed over the 2022 succession politics.
Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja said ODM leader Raila Odinga was best suited to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho, the ODM deputy party leader, reiterated his interest in the top seat on an ODM party ticket.
Samboja described Raila as a reformist and likened him to the former South Africa President and freedom icon Nelson Mandela.
“The former Prime Minister has fought for this country, and everybody knows. Kenyans should reward him by voting him in like what South Africans did to Mandela. He will not only steer the country to the next level but reform it,” he said.
But Joho exuded confidence he will clinch the ODM presidential ticket ahead of the 2022 elections. He said no Kenyan should doubt his capability to lead the country because he had served as an MP and a governor. Joho is a second-term governor.
“When I was vying for the Kisauni parliamentary seat and Mombasa the gubernatorial position, some doubted my leadership qualities. I have efficiently led the county to prosperity,” he said.
“Nobody should rule me out of the presidential race. I am capable of leading this country to greater heights,” he added.
Other ODM members eyeing the party presidential ticket are Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and businessman Jimi Wanjigi.
The leaders spoke at Mwakishimba village in Taita-Taveta during the burial of Samboja’s aunt Henrietta Shako.
Joho said the party was looking for partnerships with other entities ahead of the election and called for unity among communities in the region to have strong bargaining power in 2022.
“We are looking for like-minded partners to help solve pertinent issues affecting the region like historical land injustices meted out against the communities by successive governments,” he said.
Interestingly, Joho endorsed Samboja, the chairman of Jumuiya Za Kaunti Za Pwani, for re-election in 2022, saying he has a vision for the county and the Coast region.
Joho, who has kept off the political arena for two months, said the ODM party was still intact in the Coast region.
He spoke after supporters of Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance, and those of the Pamoja African Alliance claimed they had gained ground at the Coast.
Pamoja Africa Alliance is associated with Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi who was recently removed from the county ODM chairmanship. Kingi has been pushing the idea of a Coast-based political party.
Joho and Samboja dismissed DP Ruto’s hustler narrative, warning that the movement will polarise the country.
“You cannot tell us that you are representing the interests of the poor, yet you have failed to solve their problems while in government. Kenyans should be cautious about the hustler narrative since it will divide them,” said Joho.
They said if Ruto was genuine, he should donate part of his wealth to the poor. Samboja took the opportunity to highlight the achievements of his administration on health, water, education, and infrastructure.