Orengo faces ‘mass action’ threat over deputy, Siaya projects

James Orengo

Siaya Governor James Orengo addresses journalists on January 20. Local leaders have threatened to lead demonstrations against Mr Orengo if he cancels projects initiated by his predecessor and sidelines his deputy William Oduol. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Governor James Orengo is facing “mass action” threats from a section of local leaders who accuse him of halting some projects started by his predecessor and having a strained relationship with his deputy William Oduol.

Among the leaders who have given Mr Orengo a three-week ultimatum to address the two concerns are local ODM officials including the party’s Alego Usonga chairman John Orwenjo and area Maendeleo ya Wanawake chair Patricia Apoli.

Even though Mr Orengo and Mr Oduol remained silent over the matter when reached for comment yesterday, the Nation has established that there are fears that Mr Oduol, if empowered, could become more politically influential and face off with his boss in 2027.

Mr Oduol, who was fronted as Mr Orengo’s running mate by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga, enjoys a lot of support across the county. He lost in the 2013 gubernatorial contest against former Governor Cornel Rasanga by only 3,495 votes.

“I want to say categorically that the governor, whom we respect so much, was not elected alone. We elected him with his deputy to work for the people of Siaya as a team. They must work together,” said Mr Orwenjo.

He went on: “Mr Oduol cannot be sidelined, he was mandated to serve alongside the governor and not to sit in his office sipping tea and reading newspapers. Therefore, we appeal for unity and a cohesive working environment for the two.”

The leaders implored Mr Orengo’s administration to ensure that all the projects started by Mr Rasanga are completed. They include a modern stadium, the Segere-Ogaso road and the official residences of the governor and the deputy in Got Akara area.

“There were projects that were initiated in this region, we are calling on Mr Orengo’s administration not to tamper with any of them. Failure to which, we shall call for mass action,” said Mr Orwenjo.

After they were sworn in, Mr Orengo and his deputy agreed to stop the construction of the official residences saying there were more pressing matters in the county.

Ms Apoli called on the governor and his deputy to concentrate on delivering their promises to the people.

“We want peace in Siaya County. If we continue fighting and having an abrasive relationship on who is who in the county, then we shall fail the electorates who trusted you with the leadership,” she noted.

Ahead of the August 9, 2022 elections, ODM  settled on Mr Oduol as Mr Orengo’s running mate owing to the fierce competition from former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo. He had initially opted to battle for the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat against the current MP Samuel Atandi.

Mr Orengo and Mr Oduol have offices in different buildings within the same compound, with the deputy county boss in the old Siaya municipal building and the governor in the new office complex.

There are reports that Mr Orengo has reached out to Mr Odinga to hold an anti-Ruto rally in Siaya in a bid to help him handle the rising tension in the county.

Fighting for power between governors and their deputies has been common in the country.  Starting in the county, Mr Ranguma and his deputy Dr Ruth Odinga would not see eye to eye.

In Kiambu County, former Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his deputy James Nyoro could not work together due to the bad blood between them. In the end, Mr Waititu was ousted and Dr Nyoro took over.

West Pokot’s former Governor John Lonyangapuo had constant misunderstandings with his deputy Nicholas Atudonyang, whom the county boss accused of neglecting duties.