By Paul Mukana
The Vihiga county gubernatorial race will be undoubtedly among the hotly contested in the on setting August 9th general elections.
Incumbent governor Dr. Wilber Khasilwa Ottichilo is determined to defend his seat via an ODM party ticket.
Ottichilo has received a major boost as the Bunyore Elders Association have endorsed his re-election bid.
Speaking to Journalists at Ngany Lanet on the outskirts of Luanda town in Vihiga county on Thursday, the elders expressed confidence in Dr.Ottichilo.
“We have resolved that we will walk together and meet at least twice a year and agreed to give directions to our people on how to vote for the county seats,” said Mr.Ben Achila, the chairman of the elders.
Former National Assembly speaker Kenneth Marende has declared to vie for the seat via a DAP-K party ticket.
It is a move that has sparked jitters in Dr.Ottichilo’s camp.
The Bunyore sub tribe is the second most populous in Vihiga county behind the Maragolis.
Both Marende and Ottichilo hail from the Bunyore sub tribe.
However, the Bunyore Elders Association have launched a vicious attempt to convince Marende to shelve his bid in support for Ottichilo.
The elders want the Banyore to listen to them and vote for their preferred candidate so as not to lose the seat to another sub tribe.
In the 2017 gubernatorial race, Ottichilo was the only candidate from Bunyore whilst the populous Maragoli sub tribe had Moses Akaranka, former Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu(ANC) and Josephat Amadi(independent).
Tiriki sub tribe in Hamisi didn’t have a candidate.
But this time round Tiriki has two gubernatorial aspirants.
Senator George Khaniri will be vying via a UDP party ticket and deputy governor Patrick Saisi is also determined to clinch the seat .
At the same time, former governor Moses Akaranka and Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi have both declared to contest the seat in August.
Vihiga county has five constituencies (Vihiga, Sabatia,Hamisi, Emuhaya and Luanda), 25 wards and close to 100,000 registered voters.
But the elders have insisted that they are keen to make the Bunyore voters to go to the ballot United and help Ottichilo defend his seat.
“We are just seeking to repeat the history of what was done in 1963 when the elders of our sub tribe started giving directions,” said Edward Ohare, a representative of the Luhya Elders Forum.
Another member of the association, Jackton Kwambo said that Bunyore voters must unite in order to help one of their own(Ottichilo) to win the gubernatorial seat.
As the adage goes,it will be a battle of Titans and only the strongest will endure.
Dr.Ottichilo was elected as Emuhaya MP through a by election in January 2008 after the then MP Kenneth Marende was appointed speaker of the National Assembly.
Thus, the battle between Marende and Ottichilo is on the verge of being renewed.
Both of them are Banyores but Ottichilo hails from Emanyinya village, Emusire sub location , Central Bunyore ward , Emuhaya constituency.
Political pundits have opined that the Vihiga gubernatorial race will be a test of nerves for ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi .
Despite Vihiga being Mudavadi’s home turf, majority of the strongest candidates are affiliated to Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja coalition.
But only time will definitely tell the strongest bull.