Will Siaya Deputy Governor William Oduol be sent to the political gallows or will he survive the impeachment course?
These are the questions lingering in the minds of many Kenyans, particularly Siaya residents, as the impeachment trial of the county's second in command commenced at the Senate on Wednesday.
The 11-member special committee chaired by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator William Kisang conducted the hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, before a Special Sitting on Monday next week to consider the report of the impeachment.
In an exclusive interview with Nation on Thursday, Mr Oduol exuded confidence that he will be vindicated, citing that “Senate being a body of competent jurisdiction,” will expedite his case professionally and clear him of allegations levelled against him.
The embattled politician has linked his boss, Governor James Orengo and Siaya MCAs to his tribulations, accusing them of seeking to end his political career on account of his stand “against corruption and plunder of public resources in the devolved unit.”
“I want to tell Orengo and his ilk that profess politics of deceit, self-preservation and betrayal, I want to put them on notice that our God is a living God and we will be vindicated at the end of this exercise. I am very confident that we shall be vindicated,” said Mr Oduol.
He went on: “Some of our forefathers who fought for liberation did not live to enjoy it, if I am going to be sacrificed for fighting for the people of Siaya, I am prepared, if that is the price that I have to pay as William Oduol for standing with the people of Siaya or stopping Mr Orengo administration from stealing, I’m prepared to pay that price.”
Mr Oduol claims he is a victim of political deceit and betrayal by Mr Orengo, unnamed leaders in Siaya and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which has since commenced the process of expelling him from the party.
“I want to say that I have been betrayed may times but I continue forgiving them. Mr Orengo-who is trying to end my political career today is the same Orengo who betrayed me in 2013,” he claimed.
Mr Oduol first plunged into politics in 2013 and aligned himself with Mr Orengo against Dr Oburu Oginga who were at the time jostling for the ODM Senatorial ticket.
Dr Oginga would later be implored by ODM party to drop his bid for Senate in favour of Mr Orengo and run for governor, where he faced off with Mr Oduol, before they would both be disqualified and Cornel Rasanga handed the ODM ticket.
Mr Orengo had been impressed upon to back Dr Oginga against Mr Oduol but when both were disqualified and Mr Rasanga handed the party’s ticket, Mr Oduol was forced to defect to little known National Agenda Party of Kenya (NAPK) on whose ticket he vied for the governor seat.
In the March 4, 2013 gubernatorial election, Mr Oduol would lose to Mr Rasanga of ODM by paltry 3,495 votes after garnering 135,413 votes against Mr Rasanga’s 138,908 votes, results he successfully challenged at the High Court leading to the first gubernatorial by election in the history of Kenya in October 2013.
“I remember during the time, the entire Cord brigade led by Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka among other Cord luminaries landed in Siaya and it was Oduol against Cord in the contest but we still had a very respectable show in the by election,” Mr Oduol said on Thursday.
In the mini poll Mr Oduol managed 64,106 votes against Mr Rasanga’s 107,737 votes.
Mr Oduol declared that should he be vindicated, he will be ready to get down to work for the people of Siaya, but should the governor shove him aside, “I will still serve as the county’s official opposition leader until 2027.”
The deputy governor argues that the ODM outfit has not been kind to him.
“This time round it’s not a joke because the people of Siaya have told me many times that this time they will not forgive ODM. Whatever sin I have committed, the people of Siaya believe that I have paid enough price,” Mr Oduol said.
He vowed to continue championing for good governance, transparency and ensuring that the poor people of Siaya county get services.
“I will continue fighting for the poor and I want to ask our party – ODM, you cannot be saying that you are the party of devolution, talking about corruption at the national level and at the county level you do not want to talk about it.”
“Corruption is corruption, whether practiced in Siaya County or at the national government. So they must come out and talk about some of the corrupt practices by the leadership they have in place. This is my point of divergence between ODM party and myself,” he charged.
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“In fact I’m very disappointed because I invested a lot of money in this campaign. Mr Orengo and his team were basically staying at my hotel in Kisumu throughout the campaign. I even had my Toyota Prado burnt at the height of the campaigns but the result is this impeachment against me.”
Mr Oduol however, insisted that his problem with Mr Oengo has never been personal as the governor still remains his friend.
“Our problem is simply ideological. They want to continue looting, stealing public money and I want to ensure we instill discipline and ensure that we provide efficient, effective service to the people of Siaya,” he said.
The governor has however, maintained that his administration is clean, even challenging the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to expedite investigation of corruption claims at the county with speed.
He argues that his fight against corruption has been clear, following his appointment a taskforce which was chaired by former Auditor General Edward Ouko, with a view of establishing the extent of corrupt practices in the County.
But Mr Oduol during his interview with Nation insisted that Mr Orengo has not shown commitment in fighting corruption in Siaya.
He urged Siaya residents to stand firm and strong, exuding confidence that he will emerge stronger than ever.
“As long as your conscience is clear like mine, I know that I’m on the side of the people. I may not be on the side of some leaders but I’m on the side of the people and I’m prepared for the consequences that will emanate from this hearing.”
He explained that the amount of money that Siaya had been losing through imprest has declined since February after he started raising an alarm over corruption.
“I am sure and certain that if the Senate looks at the merit of this case, we shall be vindicated because the grounds that the assembly and Mr Orengo has brought to the Senate are frivolous, vexatious and scandalous that can stand no ground in any competent court, assembly or senate. So we are coming back, hopefully.”
Members of the committee hearing Mr Oduol’s case include Mr Kisang’ (Elgeyo Marakwet), Tharaka Nithi’s Mwenda Gataya, Mohamed Abass of Wajir and nominated Senators Tabitha Mutinda, Raphael Chimera and Abdulrahman Miraj; all from the Kenya Kwanza side.
On the minority side are Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, Dan Maanzo (Makueni), Richard Onyonka (Kisii) and nominated senators Ms Catherine Mumma and Betty Montet.
Senate Speaker Amason Kingi had given the committee up to June 23, 2023 to investigate the proposed removal from office of the deputy governor and table its report.
However, the 10-day period allowed in the law lapses on Sunday June 25, 2023. The special committee was formed on Thursday last week.
“Since the last day is on a Sunday, we cannot hold a sitting on a weekend so that is why the special sitting will be on Monday,” Mr Kisang said.
If the special committee reports that the particulars of any allegation against Mr Oduol have not been substantiated, further proceedings shall not be taken in respect of that allegation.
However, if the allegations have been substantiated, the Senate shall, after giving the deputy governor an opportunity to be heard, vote on the impeachment charges.
If a majority of all the members of the Senate, 24 in this case, vote to uphold any impeachment charge, Mr Oduol shall cease to hold office.