Murmurs of Odinga dynasty as Oburu launches Senate bid

Dr Oburu Oginga and his sister Ruth Odinga in a past event.

Photo credit: File

Opposition Chief Raila Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Oginga will on Saturday launch his Siaya senatorial seat bid at his home in Bondo.

Apart from the ODM leader, who is eyeing the presidency, and Dr Oginga going for the senatorial seat, a decision by their younger sister and former Kisumu Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga to join the race for Kisumu woman representative position has elicited grumbles.

Other family members who are seeking elective seats are Dr Oginga’s son, Mr Elijah Oburu (Kisumu Central parliamentary seat), and the ODM leader’s half-brother, Mr Isaac Omondi Odinga, going for the Milimani Market Ward.

Another of Dr Oginga’s sons, Mr Jaoko Oburu, is said to have relinquished his candidature for the Lang’ata parliamentary seat after having consulted widely.

Others are Dr Jalang’o Midiwo, their cousin, who got a boost when Mr Odinga gave a donation of Sh1 million and a Prado vehicle towards his campaign last year.

The announcement comes a few days after the immediate former Jubilee secretary-general, Mr Raphael Tuju, resigned to contest for a seat in his backyard of Siaya.

Jubilee party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju

Former Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Cabinet secretary without portfolio seems to be spoiled for choice between the Rarieda parliamentary seat, Lang’ata, currently held by Jubilee’s Nixon Korir, and Siaya senator or governor after Mr Cornel Rasanga, who is serving his final term, leaves.

This is, however, subject to consultations with ‘stakeholders’ which we understand refers to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM chief Raila Odinga.

He was an ally of Mr Odinga and was elected to represent Rarieda in 2002 elections, but fell out with him thereafter, in what cost him the re-election.

In subsequent elections, he was viewed as a ‘community outcast’ for supporting President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election in 2007 and Mr Kenyatta in the last two elections -- periods during which Mr Odinga also sought the presidency.

And with the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga in 2018, Mr Tuju increasingly came under criticism from elements within the party that he was holding fort for Mr Odinga on account of both of them coming from the same region.

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga KICC

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the KICC in Nairobi during the Jubilee Party's National Delegates Conference on February 26, 2022.

Photo credit: PSCU

Direct impact

Mr Tuju’s return to elective politics has created jitters among close allies of Mr Odinga, who had already created a line-up for the elective seats in the August 9 elections.

Whatever the case, Mr Tuju’s decision will have a direct impact on the ambitions of Dr Oginga, Siaya Senator James Orengo who is the favourite for the governorship position, and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, who is defending his seat.

Dr Oginga’s planned official declaration for the seat is, therefore, being viewed as a quick move to ring fence his political interests against any other form of persuasions to have him relinquish his candidature for a new entrant.

His candidature has the backing of the ODM leader who has declared openly that he should be given an opportunity to serve, owing to his experience. In December last year, Mr Odinga asked the public to consider the 79-year-old for the senatorial position and Mr Orengo for governor.

Raila Odinga

From left: ODM party leader Raila Odinga, Siaya Senator James Orengo and East Africa Legislative Assembly member Oburu Odinga share a light moment during a funeral service in Mutumbu village in Gem, Siaya County, in March last year.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

"It is embarrassing for Dr Oburu to beg you to elect him, he has experience, having served as a member of Parliament for over 20 years and currently he is in the Eala (East African Legislative Assembly). You don't expect me to come and campaign for Dr Oburu and Orengo, you can decide this as electorates of Siaya," said Mr Odinga at Nyamira ACK church.

This came after Dr Oginga complained of being judged harshly for being Mr Odinga's brother.

"I am also a citizen of this country, I have equal rights as a resident of Siaya County; every time I show interest in any political seat, I am shut (down) because I am Raila's brother. My brother is seeking to be the president of Kenya, that is his, but I am also here as a resident of Siaya seeking an elective seat like any other person, not because I am Raila's brother," lamented Dr Oginga.

Antagonise other competitors

The much awaited announcement by the Eala member comes amidst some disquiet among Mr Odinga’s supporters that many members of his family were contesting for various seats in his backyard, a move which they feel may antagonise other competitors or create voter apathy.

Ms Odinga now joins the crowded race for the third Kisumu woman representative whose front runners include former Kisumu County Executive member for Tourism, Dr Rose Kisia, former City Manager Doris Ombara, and Mrs Grace Akumu, who has contested for the Nyakach parliamentary seat twice but lost to the incumbent, Mr Aduma Owuor.

Nyakach MP Aduma Owuor addresses the public during a past public fucntion. PHOTO | FILE |

Others are Prof Judith Attyang, who recently resigned as the CEC for Lands, Philanthropist Beatrice Otieno, Central Seme MCA Sally Okudo and Ms Valentine Otieno, the 22-year-old seeking to upstage the experienced leaders.

Ms Odinga used her birthday to announce her candidature on social media.

“On this great day that I was born, I begin my rebirth. Rebirth into doing what I know best and that is to serve the people. I have decided to serve the people of Kisumu and am going to seek their approval to serve them as their woman rep. It is good to listen to people's opinions but always never ignore your true calling and your convictions,” said Ms Odinga.

The feeling is that the field is crowded and that it would have been better if those who have been in elective positions would have gone for other seats, so as to have many women in different positions.

There are also those who feel that since Mr Odinga is contesting for presidency, and other members of the family have declared interest in other seats, the former Kisumu deputy governor should have shelved her ambitions.

However, a section of youth, aspirants for various seats and representatives of different sectors from Kisumu County have defended the entry of Ms Odinga and Dr Oginga in the race.

Propaganda by their opponents

They believe both have achieved a lot, and should not victimised because of their family name.

“We are not going to elect her because of her family name, but because of her experience and the fact that she and Dr Oginga have been persecuted for fighting for reforms in this country. The propaganda by their opponents that their candidature will ‘spoil’ for Raila will not work,” said Mr Nyaori Nyang’.

An aspirant who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid being victimised owing to the stature of the ex-deputy governor and her relationship with the opposition chief, felt that Ms Odinga should have gone for a different elective position.

The youngest aspirant is the race, Ms Otieno, said Ms Odinga’s candidature was not a surprise, but called for a level play field for all those seeking the ODM ticket.