Opinion was divided in the ODM party yesterday on whether governor Okoth Obado should continue holding on to his position despite facing a murder charge.
Obado was charged in court on Monday with complicity in the murder of university student and girlfriend Sharon Otieno who was pregnant with his child.
Justice Jessi Lesit will this afternoon rule on whether Obado who has denied the accusation will be released on bail or spend more time in remand.
ODM Secretary General Edwin told the Star that although they are concerned that Obado has been charged with a serious offence,
the party will wait for the judicial process to take its course before any action is taken.
“We will wait for the court process to end,” said Sifuna, who was busy campaigning for the party’s senator candidate Ochilo Ayacko in Nyatike.
But vocal Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga disagreed.
“What more do we need to convince the public that the Governor is involved. His aides and a car linked to one of his aides has been traced to the scene of crime. This should be grounds enough for MCAs in Migori to start impeachment proceedings and my party ODM should lead this process,” she argued.
The Migori senate by-election will be held on October 8, with Ayacko flying ODM’s flag in a race that has attracted six candidates.
They include Eddy Okech (Federal Party) who is backed by Obado and his supporters. One of his campaign cars is owned by Obado’s wife, Hellen.
Others are Solomon Odo (PDP), Samuel Otieno (Independent) Dickson Ogolla (Independent) and Peter Jobando (Green Congress Party).
ODM gave Ayacko a direct ticket which Obado and the Migori ODM branch opposed and vowed to field his own candidate. Obado and Ayacko fought a bitter, sometimes violent, battle for the gubernatorial seat, which stretched into a petition.
Ayacko withdrew the petition against Obado only after the senator seat fell vacant with the death of Ben Olouch two months ago. He said he had heeded the advice of party leader Raila Odinga.
Some ODM leaders have been calling on the party to take action on Obado so that the county can continue to function.
“We want our party to act on this matter so that the people of Migori continue to be properly served. Obado’s position has become untenable especially because he will have to spend a lot of his time defending himself at the expense of running the county,” Wanga said.
Migori Deputy Governor Nelson Mwita Mahanga technically has been in control since Monday when Obado was charged and locked up.
Although Mahanga has not made any public moves to show that he is in charge, those close to him told the Star yesterday that he was in communication with his boss and acting on his instructions.
On Monday, he chaired a meeting with a delegation from the World Bank which is funding several agriculture projects in the county, a move that excited some members of the minority Kuria community.
Residents from the larger Kuria region thronged Migori county offices to meet the deputy governor.
If Obado is forced out of office or steps down, Mahanga would legally be mandated to complete the remainder of the term as governor as happened in Nyeri early this year when Mutahi Kahiga took over upon the death of governor Wahome Gakuru.
But that if tried and convicted, Obado would still legally hold on to his position until he has exhausted all appeal avenues.
Yesterday, MCAs begun collecting signatures to commence impeachment proceedings against Obado although Migori county assembly speaker Boaz Okoth said he had not received any impeachment motion.
“No one had brought any motion and when they do we will subject it to the provisions of the law,” Okoth said.
Migori has 56 MCAs, two thirds (40) of whom must support any impeachment motion to pass after following the required process.
According to Article 181 of the Constitution, a governor may be removed by MCAs for gross violation of the Constitution,committing a serious crime under the national or international law, abuse of office or gross misconduct.
Others are physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office of the county governor.
Obado’s supporters are however not taking the impeachment threat lightly. Yesterday some of them returned from recess and confronted some county officials whom they claim are behind the plot to kick out the embattled governor.
On Wednesday, Makerero MCA Joseph Hoyo and member of the Budget committee said 23 MCAs had already signed on a motion to have assembly clerk Tom Opere and finance officer Evans Ogutu step aside over “missing Sh100 million.”
The masterminds of the motion are mostly from Kuria, Awendo and parts of Nyatike.
But other MCAs saw the motion as a reprisal against the two who are perceived to be anti-Obado but according to Hoyo they have failed to explain the missing money when summoned by the committee.
“We want the two to step aside to enable investigations. Already 23 members have signed and we will add more,” Hoyo said.
But Opere said the issue raised by the MCAs is far fetched and political. He wondered if it is because “Obado is in the cell”.
“I can account for every single cent. They are talking about things which happened in the last financial year,” Opere said, explaining that the assembly took loans to pay salaries of the MCAs during the 2016/17 financial year.
Ogutu said he was not aware of the move and the county assembly public service board — his employer —has not informed him.
“This is a political environment and there is tension in the county. Sh100 million is a huge amount which can’t just be lost,” Ogutu said.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.