Top Stories / Counties
Saturday, 22 Apr 2017 10:43 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The ODM Disciplinary Committee will grill Migori Governor Okoth Obado, Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and Migori County ODM chairman Philip Makabongo this afternoon over the violence that rocked Rongo Constituency on Thursday, and which forewarned party leaders about the clashes that await them in the upcoming primaries in Migori County.
During the incident at Rakwaro Catholic Seminary, two primary school teachers who were training local ODM election board officials on the conduct of elections ahead of the Monday primaries were seriously injured after being attacked by a group of youths who stormed the venue, alleging the teachers were training the party officials on how to rig the primaries.
Mr Valentine Omollo, the headteacher at Rare Primary School, and Beatrice Onduru of St Jonathan School were conducting the training when the youths, who came on pick-up vans, struck. The teachers were seriously injured, with Mr Omollo referred for treatment at the Kisii Level Five Hospital and Ms Onduru was attended to at Ladorpharma Hospital in Rongo Town.
It is alleged that Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, who spoke to reporters at the venue claiming that the attackers were "members of the public', is the one who had organised for the storming of the venue. Mr Otieno alleged that Mr Paul Abuor, his main challenger, was behind plans to rig the primaries. The confrontation was serious enough that Rongo OCPD Kisaka Muganda sent a heavy police deployment.
Also summoned is Father Richard Odhiambo, the priest in charge of Rakwaro Seminary where violence took place, committee chairman Fred Athuok said. The party has not explained why the priest was summoned since his responsibility was to provide meeting facilities for the group and was not involved in the planning of the training.
Some party sources in Migori also alleged that Mr Abuor, who is the front-runner in Rongo, played a role in setting up the meeting whereas his opponents such as Mr Otieno and David Osiany were kept in the dark. It is such suspicions in the conduct of the exercise that are fueling violence, with contenders entrenching claims about rigging or favouritism, a party source informed this website.
At the gubernatorial level, incumbent Okoth Obado is locked in a race with former cabinet minister Ochilo Ayako, and most of Mr Obado's allies believe the party machinery is working against his bid. Mr Obado's locals have popularised a derogative name that the Dalmas camp labelled on Mr Ayako over the years, jabeti, meaning user of the matchet (panga).
Being Mr Ayako’s long-term opponent opponent, Dalmas is by default in Governor Obado’s camp for the gubernatorial race. The two have used violence against each other since Mr Ochilo joined politics in 1997. While they were separated from the Rongo constituency in 2013 redistricting, with Mr Ayako going to the Awendo side, Mr Ayako still has influence in Rongo and is actively campaigning against Dalmas.
Party sources feared that ODM had mismanaged the Migori primaries in advance by giving party officials too much power over the selection of election board members. Unlike in some counties, this website learnt, most of the election officials from Migori were not reshuffled with to other counties, hence the heightened suspicions.
Tensions have been rising in the county since at least last weekend, when the voters were getting ready to cast their ballots in the earlier scheduled day on April 21. It also emerged that nearly all the parliamentary incumbents in the region would lose the party nomination, including such nationally recognised MPs like Junet Mohamed of Suna East and Edick Anyanga of Nyatike.
In Suna West, incumbent Joseph Obiero Ndiege is not sitting pretty either since his opponents such as Dr Ben Migore, Peter Masara and Dr Mwabe Philip have gained momentum and eclipsed the MP's popularity. Mr Valentine Ogongo also in the race. Over the last week, the MP has unleashed funding for projects in a bid to endear himself.
Among these projects his distribution of school buses to St Peter’s Abwao Boys and Oruba Mixed Secondary School, where he also gave a personal donation of Sh400,000 for the fencing of the Oruba Sec School. Oruba Ragana and Wasimbete wards where the MP is trailing are some of the decisive areas for the election. But critics say the MP received request for the fencing of the school one year ago.
In Nyatike, Mr Anyanga is up against trade unionist Tom Odege, and to most youth leaders in the area the race is a foregone conclusion and Mr Anyanga can only try to influence its outcome through the use of violence.
The Uriri Member of Parliament John Kobado is also feeling the heat from former governorship candidate Mark Nyamitta who switched his interest from the county to the local seat. Mr Nyamitta has put Mr Kobado on his toes, receiving several former supporters of Mr Kobado who defected to his camp last week.
The same applies in Awendo constituency where Engineer Enos Nyawata is giving current MP Jared Opiyo who is a member of Ford-Kenya a run for his money. The race is so tight that Walter Owino and Richard Koballa could also come ahead of the MP.
But the hardest hit is Suna East's Junet Mohamed, a national ODM official and close ally of party leader Raila Odinga.
The MP is experiencing a surge in the popularity of his opponent John Pesa, hence his recent decision to camp in the constituency for over a week. Some boda boda officials say the MP's effort is "too little too late".
Among the MP's challenges is the corruption allegations surrounding the loss of over Sh6 billion from the National Youth Service which Mr Odinga campaigned against. Two companies in which the MP had an interest (Zeigham Enterprises Ltd and Faraza Ltd) received Sh129 million from the NYS for dubious supply of goods.
The firms received Sh70,780,000 and Sh58,300,300 respectively at the height of the NYS looting. The MP is alleged to have used his blood relations with Mr Hassan Noor, who was a top official at the Ministry of Devolution at the time. "How can Raila be campaigning hard against NYS scandals when at the same time Junet is benefiting from the same scam?" posed a local teachers' representative, who predicted that Mr Mohamed would lose to Mr Pesa in a free and fair poll.
The teacher told this website that even in Kuria East and Kuria West areas represented by Jubilee Party MPs, voters are expected to floor incumbents.