This man William Oduol ‘Denge’

Siaya deputy governor William Oduol. 

For the past few months, the focus of almost the entire country has been on Siaya County, thanks to one man, Mr William Oduol, popularly known as Denge.

The Siaya deputy governor has been on various media and public platforms to raise concerns about corruption and misappropriation of funds by the county executive.

This has earned him both praise and criticism.

His allegations have been dismissed by the Siaya County Assembly, which has declared them baseless.

There is already a motion to impeach him for abuse of office, gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution. If successful in both the assembly and the Senate, Oduol will be the first deputy governor to be removed from office.

He has vowed to fight to the end in what he says is in the interest of the public and the people of Siaya County.

"I wish to assure the people of Siaya County that I will not be deterred from my duty to serve with honesty and integrity. I will continue to speak the truth and fight for transparency and accountability in the use of public funds," said Oduol.

He said it was time for the governor's office to put aside its interests and work for the betterment of the people of Siaya.

But Oduol is no stranger to controversy, and he will not go quietly. He has long been a thorn in the side of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and its leader Raila Odinga.

He stood against Siaya governor Cornel Rasanga in the 2013 General Election but lost. He felt his victory had been stolen and challenged Rasanga’s win in court, leading to a repeat election.

Rasanga beat him again in the by-election, which was gruelling and closely fought.

In the 2017 elections, he was not active in county politics but was still influential, and in 2022, Mr James Orengo chose him as his running mate in the Siaya gubernatorial race after Oduol shelved his ambition to contest the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat.

His choice was strategic and well-calculated because Orengo wanted to attract votes from the populous Alego Usonga sub-county.
Orengo's bitter rival, Nicholas Gumbo, had played the same card by choosing former police spokesman Charles Owino.

Alego Usonga, the largest constituency in the county, had more than 123,000 voters.

Owino is from Karuoth in Alego Usonga, although he has settled in Ugenya, which is Orengo's base, so choosing him would appeal to both bases, giving a boost to Gumbo.

Mr James Orengo and Mr William Oduol

Mr James Orengo (right) and Mr William Oduol (left), then joint candidates for the Siaya gubernatorial seat, campaign in Siaya Town on June 22, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

However, Gumbo was to be dealt a major blow when Owino shockingly withdrew from the race after being recalled to the National Police Service, and the former Rarieda MP settled for veteran journalist David Ohito.

The Orengo-Oduol team would defeat the Gumbo-Ohito ticket handily in the August 9, 2022 polls.

"Goose is cooked"

With the ODM party now wading into the war between Oduol and Orengo, calling for the former’s resignation if he cannot toe the line, analysts say the deputy governor's goose is cooked and this could affect his political ambitions.

However, pundits are quick to add a caveat that the move to impeach him could go either way and embarrass the Raila-led faction, because the process has to go to the Senate for debate and approval.

This could be a major challenge because it will boil down to a game of numbers, which is still a challenge for the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party.

Prof Obora Okoth, a political commentator, believes that if the impeachment is successful — which he doubts because of the prevailing political climate at the national level — Oduol's political career will be over.

“The impeachment will end Oduol's career because the socio-political characteristics of the Luo community will not allow him to rise. Luos do not forgive and forget easily and once you show any level of arrogance to their supreme leader, it is the beginning of your downfall,” says Okoth.

He also states that the war between the two is because their political marriage is one of convenience, and that is why Oduol, whom he describes as ambitious, will continue to be a thorn in the flesh if the matter is not resolved now.

However, he feels that the ODM party, Orengo and Oduol should find a way to resolve the matter without "too much noise" because everyone stands to lose.

Mr Auscar Wambiya, who was chief of staff under Rasanga, and who knows the inner workings of Alego Usonga and Siaya politics, believes that Oduol will lose the battle.

"He is accused of standing up for the people of Alego Usonga Constituency instead of Siaya County as a whole, calling people "thieves" without following due process to charge them and overstepping the role of the governor," says Wambiya.

If he is unhappy with the way the county is being run, Wambiya says, Oduol should do what Jaramogi Oginga Odinga did in 1966 — resign and seek a fresh mandate through alternative channels.

The 51-year-old Oduol is a chartered accountant and has always said so to make people aware of his vast knowledge and experience in financial management and auditing.

He is also a businessman with investments in the construction and hospitality sectors.

He has held senior leadership roles driving partner and channel excellence with many of the world's most recognised brands, including Westcon-Comstor, Microsoft and Safaricom.

Two years ago, he was also appointed Gorilla's regional president for the Middle East and Africa.