Do not link me to my husband’s failures, says Hellen Obado

Hellen Obado

Ms Hellen Obado who is eyeing the Migori Woman Rep seat in the August 9 polls. 

Photo credit: Ian Byron | Nation Media Group

Mrs Hellen Okoth, wife of Migori Governor Okoth Obado, has called on voters not to judge her by her husband's 'baggage' as she seeks to become the county’s third woman representative.

Mr Obado is battling corruption and murder charges in court.

Mrs Okoth, who shunned her husband's outfit, the People Democratic Party (PDP), citing “personal reasons” and is running as an independent candidate, urged voters to view her as an individual and not associate her with the county’s first family.

Perhaps keen to avoid her husband’s controversies and dalliance with Deputy President William Ruto, she has even dropped the name Obado and has packaged herself as Hellen Adhiambo Okoth.

“Whatever my husband did or failed to do during his tenure should not be pegged on me. I have never held any elective office and cannot be responsible for his past deeds,” she told reporters in Migori town.

Mr Obado’s tenure as governor has been marred by controversies ranging from corruption and murder charges to abuse of office.

The cases are still pending in court.

When Mrs Okoth announced her candidacy, she said the woman rep position was a public office and anyone was free to contest it, ending the political debate on the direction the governor’s family would take once he steps down after serving his two terms.

“As you can see, I have started the process of being cleared by the electoral body for the August 9 contest. I am ready to face off with my opponents and I’m upbeat about clinching the seat,” she said after a consultative meeting between the IEBC and aspirants.

Shunned husband's PDP

Pundits argue that her decision to shun PDP may work in her favour because Mr Obado has openly declared his support for DP Ruto.

“She has a fighting chance owing to the support the husband wields. She is equally a crowd puller and may capitalise on the family's vast networks to seek votes,” noted Mr Nick Oluoch, a lecturer at Kisii University.

Mrs Okoth has been at the forefront in campaigning for her husband since 2007 when he unsuccessfully vied for the Uriri parliamentary seat.

She also campaigned for Mr Obado in the defunct Kenya Sugar Board elections by mobilising sugarcane farmers, a seat that he won by a landslide.

She was key in voter and grassroots mobilisation for her husband’s bid for governor and often led separate and parallel campaigns targeting women.

As the Migori first lady, she started the ‘Kuku ni Pesa’ project, which gave incubators to several women’s groups and distributed sanitary towels, toiletries and solar lamps to women on the campaign trail.

She will face off with Mrs Dennitah Ghati, who won the ODM ticket in the April 18 party primaries, Mrs Lilian Akugo (Jubilee), Mrs Zilpah Audline, former radio journalist Josephine Sirega and businesswoman Fatuma Mohammed, the latter three as independent candidates.

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