By James Karanja
United Democratic Party, a party affiliated to the former Lugari MP Hon Cyrus Jirongo has taken Western Kenya by storm. The party has made inroads in the four Western Kenya Counties with a well oiled structure up to the polling centre level. In a move aimed at taking over Western Kenya, the Party, which is headquartered in Lavington, Nairobi, has recently set up offices in all counties in Western Province. Each of the four county offices are nestled right in the CBD of respective counties, complete with personnel to manage daily operations as the campaign period draws nigh.
Word on the ground is that UDP has carefully studied the matrix of each ward and constituency in all the counties of Western Kenya. As a result, it boasts of the creme de la creme of all the aspirants.
It is an open secret that nominations are a farce in all the “big” parties in this country. As a result, UDP has dangled the elusive fair play in party nominations by selecting a single candidate in each ward and constituency. These are the popular candidates that the old guard of respective parties wouldn’t want to touch for fear of a possible mutiny in future.
A tete a tete with a top party official reveals that UDP envisions a bumper harvest of County and National Assembly seats come August this year. The aspirants, we have learnt, have already paid up nomination and life membership fees which are considerably lower than what others will pay in other parties; and even resigned from any other parties that they were initially registered to. One aspirant explains this point:
“Why should I pay triple for a simple nomination? I need to pay hundreds of thousands as nomination fees, then spend on a nomination campaign which I am not even assured of getting.” This also saves aspirants from the nightmare of having nowhere to go after losing nominations, as stipulated in the Elections Act 2016.
In addition, the party Secretariat has launched an elaborate party registration drive that is meant to increase the membership. With agents in each polling centre, all newly registered and old voters are quickly finding their way into the UDP roll as the party agents are ever present at the registration centres.
Furthermore, the number of female aspirants is said to be high as the party advocates for a level playing field for both men and women. So far, UDP boasts of Senate, Governor, Parliamentary and County Assembly aspirants in Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia Counties.
If all this is anything to go by, UDP is a party that cannot and will not be wished away in Western Kenya.