ODM secret line-up fuels jitters among aspirants

Oburu Oginga, Opiyo Wandayi and James Orengo.

From left: Oburu Oginga, Opiyo Wandayi and James Orengo.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A secret 2022 elections line-up has emerged in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Siaya backyard, causing jitters among party aspirants over threat of exclusion.

The Nation has learnt that last week’s withdrawal of Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi from the governor race had reportedly been influenced by top leadership of the party, lifting the lid on the emerging line-up.

Even though Mr Wandayi said his decision to withdraw came as a result of consultation with the party and his constituents, reports indicate he was implored to step down to create room for Senator James Orengo to run for the position.

Mr Orengo, 70, has joined hands with Mr Odinga’s brother Oburu Oginga, 77 who is seeking to replace him in the Senate.

Also in the team is Governor Cornel Rasanga, 64, who is seeking to dislodge first-time MP Samuel Atandi from the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat.

University lecturer Nicholas Kut is also eyeing the seat as well as former gubernatorial aspirant William Oduol.

Universal suffrage

The team has also roped in former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo’s brother, Mr Jalang’o Midiwo, who is equally eyeing the parliamentary seat currently held by Mr Elisha Odhiambo. In Rarieda, incumbent MP Otiende Amollo is also linked to the team.

Yesterday, Siaya ODM Chairman Oloo Okanda confirmed that the party has agreed on the candidacy of Mr Orengo for governor, Dr Oginga for senator and Mr Rasanga for Alego Usonga MP seat. According to plans, the party, he said, may rule out universal suffrage as a way of picking candidates and either opt for direct nomination, delegates’ participation or even acclamation.

“We’re, however, concerned that the move could raise voter apathy among supporters of various candidates eyeing various positions,” Mr Okanda told the Nation on phone.

In the ODM line-up, it’s not clear whether Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda will also be roped in since Mr Andiwo Mwai has also thrown his hat in the ring.

Cornel Rasanga, Otiende Amollo

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga (left), Jalang'o Midiwo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It’s only Ugenya MP David Ochieng’, who was elected on the Movement for Democracy and Growth ticket, whose position is clear, as he doesn’t belong to ODM.

Siaya political activist Augustine Omondi aka Makamu said it was already a done deal for the governor, Senate and some parliamentary seats in the county.

“Governor is Jim (Orengo), senator is Oburu while Alego Usonga MP is Rasanga. The decision is to have the old guard vie and later exit for the youth. Let them serve their term and retire,” Mr Omondi said.

Siaya has six constituencies: Alego Usonga, Bondo, Gem, Rarieda, Ugenya and Ugunja.

Senate seat

IEBC 2017 election data shows Alego Usonga has the largest number of registered voters at 103,334. Bondo follows with 90,278, Gem (80,472), Rarieda (75,779), Ugenya (57,603) and Ugunja 50,487 voters .

Mr Orengo hails from Ugenya, the upper part of Siaya County, meaning, if he bags the gubernatorial ticket then the Senate seat has to go to the lower side, which is Bondo or Rarieda.

In the wake of fury in the county over the alleged ODM secret line-up, Mr Wandayi has insisted that he was not coerced into withdrawing from the governor race in favour of Mr Orengo. The move followed wide consultations, he says.

“[H]aving listened to the voices of my Ugunja constituents, I wish to make it known that I’ll not be a candidate for the position of governor of Siaya County in 2022,” Mr Wandayi stated.

With the Ugunja MP out of the gubernatorial race, the battle is now expected to be between Mr Orengo, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, former Police Spokesperson Charles Owino, former Permanent Secretary Carey Orege and Deputy Governor James Okumbe.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga (left), his main rival in the 2013 gubernatorial race William Oduol and University of Nairobi don Dr Nicholas Kut who is eying the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat in 2022.

Although Mr Rasanga will be running for Alego Usonga MP, the governor is said to have promised to finance the team’s campaign due to his financial muscle.

He has also been accused of lining up particular current MCAs and aspirants for the ward positions he wants the party to hand nomination certificates ahead of the next elections.

This is to ensure that the incoming governor in the camp has a team of allies in the assembly for support. Mr Owino warned against issuance of direct tickets to aspirants, noting it’s likely to create voter apathy that could affect the presidential vote.

“We have no problem with the party so long as the people are allowed to participate in the nomination process. I know some of the aspirants may panic because they know they can’t steal my votes. Yet I can lose an election.”

He said he’s ready to back whoever wins in the party primaries in a free, fair and credible contest.

But Mr Anthony Oduor from Gem questioned why ODM would push for direct tickets yet the party stands for democracy.

“The likes of Orengo claim they have fought for democracy; do they practise it or just want it at the national level and not at the regional level?” Mr Oduor posed.


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