Major battles shaping up in Siaya as many eye ODM tickets

Dr Oburu Oginga, Senator James Orengo

From left: Dr Oburu Oginga, Senator James Orengo and Woman Rep Christine Ombaka address journalists in 2020. Dr Oginga intends to replace Mr Orengo who wants to become the new Siaya county governor. Dr Ombaka will be looking to retain her seat.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 Daggers have been drawn in ODM leader Raila Odinga's Siaya backyard as incumbents face stiff competition from aspirants in various positions.

The hopefuls who include former MPs and new entrants into the race have started giving the incumbents on various seats sleepless nights ahead of the party primaries.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has already gazetted election timelines with political parties expected to conduct their nominations, resolve intra-party disputes and submit names of candidates after party primaries by May 26, 2022 ahead of the August 9 General Election.

In the Siaya gubernatorial race, former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo who gave outgoing Governor Cornel Rasanga a run for his money in the 2017 elections has hit the ground running, and is highly expected to face off with Siaya Senator James Orengo, the ODM "favourite" according to multiple sources at Chungwa House.

Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, Nicholas Kut Ochogo and Omondi Muluan.

Mr Gumbo told Nation.Africa yesterday that he was firmly under Mr Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja Movement but was still weighing his options on which party to use as his vehicle in the August polls.

“The bigger focus for me is Azimio which we are solidifying support for but I will decide whether to vie on ODM, as an independent candidate or other parties within this framework of Azimio la Umoja,” Mr Gumbo said.

Independent candidate

Mr Gumbo who was vying for the seat as an independent candidate lost to Mr Rasanga of ODM by paltry 19,521 votes after garnering 179,368 votes against Mr Rasanga’s 198,889 votes.

Former police spokesperson Charles Owino and Advocate George Mugoye are eyeing the seat with Mr Owino promising Mr Orengo a mother of all battles in his quest for the ODM ticket.

 “I have what it takes to win this seat. I have roots across the County and great plans for Siaya,” Mr Owino says.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, however withdrew from the race and will concentrate on his Parliamentary seat.

In the Senatorial race, Mr Odinga's elder brother Dr Oburu Oginga will face off with Gem politician Julius Okinda popularly known as J.T Okinda and Tony Yogo from Bondo Constituency.

Dr Oginga has said that he should not be judged by his age but his capacity to legislate at the Senate for the well-being of the people of Siaya.

“Even in the US, the Senate seat is a reserve for the elderly who offer guidance in terms of leadership,” Dr Oginga argues.

Oburu Oginga, Opiyo Wandayi and James Orengo.

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

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mr Okinda says he intends to provide effective oversight on all County programmes to ensure prompt implementation at reasonable costs.

 “Corruption is a disease that can only be cured if the senate takes decisive action through legislations. All senators have a duty to work closely with their respective County assemblies to curb corruption,” said Mr Okinda.

Value addition

Through engagement with national and county government, he says he intends to work towards maximum utilisation of Yala swamp for agriculture and value addition as well as improvement of infrastructure.

Siaya Woman Rep Dr Christine Ombaka has on the other hand attracted several aspirants who are seeking to dislodge her from the position she has held since the advent of devolution in 2013.

Those eying her seat include; Dr Pamela Akello, Dorothy Awino, Maureen Oduor, Emily Akinyi, Mary Olute, Maureen Oduor and Ruth Apondi.

A section of residents in Gem have set eyes on the Assembly speaker position which if allocated to the constituency could play to Dr Ombaka’s disadvantage.

Political fireworks

Rarieda is also said to be keen on the position.

Political fireworks are, however, expected in the battle for the six parliamentary seats in the County.

The constituencies are; Bondo, Rarieda, Alego Usonga, Gem, Ugunja and Ugenya.

Bondo seat has attracted incumbent Gideon Ochanda from Yimbo clan against a majority of contestants from the Sakwa clan.

Those seeking to dislodge Mr Ochanda are; John Andiwo Mwai, Thomas Obondo, Dr Lynette Olima and Fred Banja. Mr Ochanda could have an upper hand in terms of the clan matrix.

Political observers say that with Mr Odinga gunning for the presidency and his brother Dr Oginga eying the senate seat from the Sakwa clan, it will not be in order to wrestle the parliamentary seat from the Yimbo clan.

Mr Ochanda told Nation.Africa yesterday that clan politics could play out but not in a big way as “my development record speaks for itself.”

 “My main opponents are only conducting campaigns of opulence while the others are greenhorns. However, I will be elected based on my track record. My free school feeding program, investment on education and NHIF for the village elders across the constituency are noble ideas that many people associate with and will likely catapult me to victory,” Mr Ochanda told Nation.Africa.

In Alego Usonga, incumbent Samwel Atandi is facing a stiff challenge from University of Nairobi don Dr Nicholas Kut.

Mr Atandi has fallen out with many local leaders and major clans of Kakan and Karuoth which catapulted him to victory and the entry of Dr Kut from the populous Kakan clan could spell doom form his re-election.

The MP has been accused of highhandedness and being temperamental, following many assault cases pending with the police in Siaya.

Last year, he was arrested after armed youth in his company attacked and injured South-East Alego chief Ogutu Onjala.

In 2019, he was also on the police radar after attacking a Ministry of education official, Ms Modester Anyuor while in 2018, a nominated Siaya MCA Winnie Otieno accused him of hiring goons to attack her, claims the legislator denied.

Former Alego Usonga MP Omondi Mulwan who has also joined the race in a bid to continue with various development projects he initiated during his tenure between 2013 and 2017, faults Mr Atandi of being a “militant” who should not be re-elected.

“Alego Usonga residents did not vote for a militant who takes any slight opportunity to attack the people who elected him in office,” Mr Muluan says.

But the legislator insists he has what it takes to win his seat, boasting of improving infrastructural development in schools as well as the education system during his reign.

Dr Kut says he will however, improve bursary management to ensure vulnerable pupils and students get education.

“This has not been done equally and many children from vulnerable families are suffering,” he told Nation.Africa.

In Rarieda, aspirants seem to have taken advantage of an apparent falling out of area MP Dr Otiende Amollo with the ODM party.

They say the removal of Dr Amollo from the powerful Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly was a clear sign of a vote of no confidence by the party against Dr Amollo.

His main opponent Mr Neto Adhola who was in 2017 disqualified from vying for the seat says he is a member of ODM and will participate in its primaries.

“So far I’m still in ODM and vying on the party’s ticket. My key issues for the people of Rarieda

Include; water, education and agri-business,” he said.

Some of Mr Adhola’s supporters however, want him to vie on the same party with Mr Gumbo, a former area MP who is eying the gubernatorial seat.

Mr Gumbo holds a huge sway in the area and anybody who aligns himself with him could have an added advantage.

“We are still crossing our fingers to see how things are panning out. But I can tell you the MP (Dr Amollo) is standing on quicksand and proper strategies will give the people of Rarieda a better leader,” Mr Adhola says.

In Gem, incumbent Elisha Odhiambo is staring at a major battle pitting him against former area MP Jakoyo Midiwo’s brother Dr Jalang’o Midiwo and Mr Booker Omole.

Mr Odhiambo says he is confident of winning the seat due to his development record.

 “My work speaks for itself and I believe I will recapture my seat,” says Mr Odhiambo.

Dr Midiwo is not seeking the seat because of his relation with the ex-legislator but to improve the quality of life of the people of Gem.

 “I will implement my five point agenda which includes education through prompt bursary distribution,” he says.

Lost glory

“We want to restore our lost glory. In Gem we used to say that if you throw a stone it could land on the head of a professor to depict how learned our people are and through bursary we shall ensure vulnerable families benefit,” he added.

He promises to ensure proper administration of bursary under the theme ‘No fees, no problem for a deserving child,’ as well as improve agriculture, sports and enhance security “at this time when River Yala has turned into a security threat where bodies are dumped without any action taken by security agencies.”

In Ugunja, area MP Opiyo Wandayi who was eying the gubernatorial seat before dropping is however, sitting pretty due to various projects initiated during his tenure.

Even though he is facing opposition from other aspirants including; Otieno Alur, Fredrick Dor and Kennedy Owino, he is expected to easily clinch the ODM ticket.

“I am not campaigning for Wandayi but his work speaks for itself,” ODM leader Raila Odinga told party delegates at the home of Mr Wandayi on December 24 last year.

Mr Wandayi’s tenure has seen establishment of a Kenya Medical Training Institute in the area as well as a Technical Training Institute and a National Youth Service unit.

In Ugenya, area MP David Ochieng’, the leader of the Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) is facing several aspirants who are seeking the ODM ticket to kick him out.

They are; former MP Chris Karan, Advocate Rodger Sagana, Daniel Juma, Fred Ogolla, Daniel Odhiambo, Michael Oliech and Clement Omollo.

Like Mr Wandayi, Mr Ochieng’ is also associated with various development projects unlike his predecessor, Siaya Senator James Orengo.

However, party politics and his relation with Mr Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja Movement camp could make or break him.

Even though the County Assembly Speaker position is not sought in a General Election and office holder only elected by MCAs after the polls, lobbying is already in top gear for the position.

Leaders say for regional balance to be achieved in the County positions, this post, as well as that of a Deputy Governor has to be flouted.

Incumbent Speaker George Okode from Rarieda Constituency is expected to defend his position amid an onslaught from Alego Usonga and Gem which have laid claim on it.

Gem currently has Woman Rep position held by Dr Christine Ombaka, but a section of leaders have insisted they need a different position this time round, threatening Ms Ombaka post.

For Alego Usonga, as Governor Rasanga exits, they say there is a need to have either the Speaker’s position or Deputy Governor slot at worst. But Mr Okode is said to have an upper hand.


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