Assertions by Raila Odinga that he would be keen to see a level playing ground in ODM nominations ahead of 2022 elections has created a complicated political jigsaw in Nyanza region which has been arena of shambolic ODM nominations over the years.
Beneficiaries of corrupt nominations process in ODM have been sent into panic mode following a recent vow by party leader to implement a raft of resolutions aimed at salvaging his political machine.
Raila was shocked by an explosive internal report that delivered a damning verdict to the effect that the once formidable political vehicle is staring at a bleak future courtesy of deep seated corruption and poor leadership at ODM’s three top organs.
The explosive report accused ODM secretariat, national executive committee and national elections board of past bungled party primaries marred by chaos and violence which resulted to mass walkout by candidates.
The move by Raila to form a three-member panel to craft a rescue strategy to steer the party ahead of 2022 polls was seen as a great step BY despite skepticism surrounding his choice of people to lead the team.
The announcement of nominated senator Judy Pareno, Nyando MP Jared Okello and ODM executive director Oduor Ongw’en has been met by fierce resistance with claims that those appointed except Okello are responsible to past ill activities in the party.
Former Kisumu women representative and nominated senator Rose Nyamunga is categorical that those who were part of the mess in ODM in the last elections have no option but to quit.
Meantime, the new development has ignited excitement among Nyanza politicians who have previously suffered at the hands of crooked party officials blamed for dishing out party tickets to the highest bidder.
The politicians in question have been branded moles as a scheme of locking them out despite enjoying big following coupled with colourful development record on the ground.
They are now trooping back to ODM well aware that the bruised party leader Raila has eyes trained on the State House seat would not like to blunder again when it comes to party nominations which has proved to be having a ripple effect on presidential elections.
A classic example is the already charged political activities in Homa- Bay county where aspirants are said to have kicked off early activities wooing voters as opposed to the past where those in the perceived good books would seat back and wait for party blessing.
Your favourite Weekly Citizen has uncovered plans by former Karachuonyo MP James Rege to jump into the already crowded and highly competitive gubernatorial race in which the outgoing Cyprian Awiti has been accused of staging unrivalled corruption, impunity and theft.
Rege has been secretly meeting politicians from the region including MPs, MCAs, church leaders and elders at different locations in Nairobi as he crafts a campaign network that would aid him win the race to succeed Awiti.
Other players angling to succeed Awiti are former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, ODM chairman John Mbadi, Homa Bay women representative Gladys Wanga, Kuppet secretary general Akello Misori, former national intelligence officer Sammy Wakiaga and Suba South MP Millie Odhiambo.
Also expected in the race are Homabay county secretary Isaiah Ogwe, deputy governor Hamilton Orata, former county assembly clerk Bob Otieno, Senator Moses Kajwang, and Homabay town MP Peter Kaluma among others.
Wanga who is serving her second term as the county women representative banks on her cordial relationship with the family of Raila while Kajwang is likely to play a key role in the county politics owing to his senatorial experience.
Kajwang who doubles as the chair of senate’s public accounts committee has been a vocal critic of Awiti’s administration despite the pivotal role he played in the governor’s reelection.
Awiti sympathisers have noted that the financially allegedly broke Kaluma has turned against the governor after powerful people surrounding Awiti advised him to cut financial help to the MP who is fighting a child support case that has left him with a thin pay slip.
Mbadi on the other hand is feeling comfortable by virtue of his position as the ODM chairman though he may be axed any moment in the pending changes at the party.
Supporters of Misori are projecting a situation where their man is poised to be the next county head given teachers support mixed with his wealth of experience at the umbrella body.
But pundits are pointing out that the entry of Rege has completely changed the battle for Homabay governor 2022 which may prove to be one of the fiercest political battles in Nyanza.
What was expected by many to be an easy ride for Magwanga perceived as the frontrunner for the seat may not be so following Rege factor which comes at a time handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila has currently harmonised the ground for candidates once treated as moles.
Magwanga vied for the coveted seat as an independent candidate after protesting dubious operations at Orange house and almost thwarted Awiti’s bid for second term but would later feel played at the general elections when IEBC declared Awiti as the winner.
The whole affair later formed into a protracted legal battle until February 20 2019 when the Supreme Court upheld the election of Awiti as the duly elected governor.
Just moments after the court decision that left Magwanga supporters with strong feelings that some of the judges were bribed, Magwanga made a loud political statement with a series of public appearances with regional political kingpin Raila.
The move caused instant jitters among ODM politicians from Homabay and some MPs were even overheard complaining that by moving back to the ODM the former legislator would scuttle 2022 succession plan.
The same fears were expressed when it leaked that Rege who is the chairman at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company was maneuvering his way back into ODM.
The former legislator perceived as deviant to the Nyanza political thinking has squeezed another opportunity out of the changing political linings in Luo where politics of development seems to be steadily eclipsing that of party factor.
Pundits are quick to point at a two-horse race scenario between Rege and Magwanga who previously put a spirited fight against the incumbent and would definitely be a serious threat should he rejoin ODM.
Rege sacrificed his political ambitions and declined to vie as MP Karachuonyo for the third time in the last general elections when he grudgingly left ODM to work in the Jubilee campaign team that secured president Uhuru’s second term in the office. He was later rewarded a plum position as the Ketraco board chairman.
There is an argument on the ground that Rege is a level headed and resourceful leader and the now popular political handshake between Uhuru and Raila appears to have blended well with his elaborate political and professional CV to an extent the Luo electorate now celebrate his wisdom and brilliance rather than see him and his group as deviants.
Incidentally, even when Raila still maintained a hard line against the Jubilee administration, he never mentioned Rege in a bad light or even disowned him.
An insider within Raila camp who did not wish to be named observed some unique mutual respect between the two leaders to the extent Raila prevailed upon the ODM party’s disciplinary committee to terminate an initial case which was associating Rege with Jubilee party.
In Siaya politics, Raila has directed Governor Cornel Rasanga and local politicians to work closely with the newly elected Ugenya MP David Ochieng despite the embarrassment caused during the by-elections.
Raila is said to be on charm offensive to woo those who felt previously wronged back into the party and according to a source the ODM party leader was dutifully implementing some of the recommendations made on the report.
Siaya deputy governor James Okumbe said the opposition chief ordered governor Rasanga to embrace Ochieng of MDF party even after trouncing ODM aspirant and immediate former Ugenya MP Chris Karan in the recent by-election that was perceived to be a tussle between Raila and William Ruto.
“I’m not a politician but Raila told Rasanga together with me to work with Ochieng for the sake of development in the region,” Okumbe said.
He conveyed the message at the Ukwala Catholic Church during a funds-drive in aid of purchasing a vehicle for the priest.
Senators James Orengo of Siaya, Kajwang and Ochilo Ayacko (Migori) were present at the event.
At the same time, Magwanga has warned his competitors in the race to succeed Awiti to brace themselves for a bruising battle that may dwarf the kind of challenge he posed to the governor in the last elections.
Homabay voters have asked Raila to stay away from influencing political events in the region and stay focused on his presidential ambitions.
Massive looting has been reported under Governor Awiti and Auditor General has documented the loss of billions of shillings at the county government.
A number of the governor’s well-publicised projects have come to naught with money meant for projects being channeled to the pockets of corrupt few officers in the county among them county secretary Isaiah Ogwe, also in the list of gubernatorial aspirants.
Awiti started his leadership on a wrong footing when what was meant to be a key project of Sh600 billion Agri-City which he claimed would change the economic profile of the county turned out to a be a conning scheme where the county lost hundreds of millions of shillings.