Governor Okoth Obado is once again in the eye of the storm over his political obstinacy, with county Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) officials calling for his expulsion from the party.
His alleged defection to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) despite being elected on an ODM ticket has rubbed party bigwigs the wrong way.
A week ago, the county’s ODM leadership issued a seven-day ultimatum to Mr Obado to officially resign from the party or face expulsion. The deadline has since expired.
On Tuesday, Migori branch chairman Philip Makabong’o said he had asked the national office to start the process of removing the governor as an ODM member in accordance with article 5.4.1(c) of its constitution. That section says that a member who wilfully defects and joins another party automatically relinquishes his elective position.
“We’ve already written to the secretariat and copied the letter to our party leader and the chairman. Whatever remains will be handled by the national office. We’ve done our part,” Mr Makabong’o told the Nation.
Should Chungwa House bow to the demand, Mr Obado will effectively cease to be governor.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna confirmed receiving the letter, but said the matter can’t be handled at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“We will look into the matter when we resume,” he told Nation on phone.
Sources close to the ODM top brass hinted that the governor’s latest move was giving the party leadership a headache amid plans to clip Mr Obado’s growing influence in South Nyanza.
An MCA privy to the goings-on told Nation that a plan had been hatched to cut the governor down to size, but said expelling him would only spark tensions in the county.
“The party leadership has resolved to use all possible ways to tame him without causing divisions,” said the MCA.
Several ODM MPs — Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Peter Masara (Suna West) and Tom Odege (Nyatike) — as well as MCAs have held press briefings pledging loyalty to party boss Raila Odinga and denouncing Mr Obado.
Mr Obado often hosts delegations at his Rapogi home in an effort to grow his influence in the region. Already, his overtures have caused a rift in the Luo Council of Elders.
Mid last month, the governor hosted some of the elders to a private meeting during which they endorsed him as the next Luo kingpin. Council chairman Nyandiko Ongadi lauded the governor for his “bold political move” saying, Mr Obado was free to chart his own political path.
His remarks drew condemnation from a faction of the elders led by Migori County chairman John Ben Omollo and his Homa Bay counterpart Joseph Ogada Gor. They said Obado’s decision risked dividing the community.
A week ago, Mr Obado hosted Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, signalling a budding partnership between PDP and Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.
Mr Sang’s visit was followed by another delegation from Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) last weekend.
The ANC team comprised Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and a host of Kakamega MCAs and party officials.
Nation has established that the two parties agreed to forge a partnership to ensure that Mr Mudavadi ascends to the presidency.
“The meeting marks the onset of future engagements with ANC. We must not deny our people their God-given rights of associating with other parties. We should also not limit our people or threaten them by saying that parties must be confined to certain regions,” Mr Obado said in a video posted on Mr Malala’s official Facebook account after the meeting.
Zoning the country
In an indirect reference to ODM clout in Nyanza region, Mr Obado termed the idea of zoning the country by party membership as unacceptable and told parties to embrace diverse opinions.
“As PDP, we are happy to work together with other like-minded parties. We’re open to partnering with others to have a strong bargaining position in the next administration,” he said.
Mr Malala said ANC was strategically positioning itself to clinch the presidency in the next General Election. He said the partnership will give ANC a broader national outlook.
“We have found someone willing to collaborate with other communities. This is just the beginning of a strong partnership between Mulembe Nation, the people of Migori County and the Luo community at large,” Mr Malala said.