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Monday, August 21, 2017

Oku Kaunya: Return of a high profile exile

Millicent Oku and her husband Oku Kaunya in Kakermer, Teso North Photo/File
Millicent Oku and her husband Oku Kaunya in Kakermer, Teso North Photo/File

Oku Kaunya has finally decided to take the big plunge into elective politics. The former Administration Police Commandant made the long awaited announcement on the New Year’s eve during the annual Iteso Cultural Day at Kakemer in Busia county.

Oku, who is struggling to make various adjustments to his life, wants to be the next Teso North MP. He says joining politics is a last option in an effort to make sense to his life destroyed by the 6 years he spent in exile.

He had gone to exile in 2011 to escape from protracted threats to his life and his return gave him hope he could get his old job back.

“Politics is an option,” Oku had told the Star in an interview in June upon his return from exile. “ I didn’t not resign neither was I sacked.”

At the time of his escape, he had been transferred to Kisumu as the Regional Coordinator arising from his problems with his boss at the Administration Police.

Even though he was previously entrenched in the high echelons of the government, Oku was forced into exile after threat levels to his personal security heightened.

He rejects claims that threats to his life had anything to do with the then toxic issue of the International Criminal Court.

“The ICC allegations were an excuse designed by my former boss to get me out of the AP,” he says, pointing out that he has forgiven all his tormentors.

“This was a scheme to get me out of the AP. It was a power play designed to stop me from taking over as the boss at AP.”

“But all that is behind me. Much as I cannot forget the harrowing experience in exile, I have forgiven that particular individual. I have left everything in the hands of God.”

Oku’s decision to plunge into elective politics cropped up after behind the scenes effort for his return to the public service proved futile.

A series of meetings with highly placed functionaries in government concluded last June that Oku would get his job back. But nothing came of it.

“The appointment has been long in coming and life must move on,” he says on the bungled attempt to get back his old job.

Though a popular figure in Teso, his interest in politics faces one major challenge. His family’s resources have been depleted and Oku has not had an income ever since he went into exile.

The government’s refusal to give him his old job back, means that all his 21 year service have blown up and vanished into thin air.

“I need support to achieve my political dreams. I am looking out for a political party that will underwrite some expenses to facilitate my campaigns.”

IN FIVE MINUTES

1963: Born in Kakamer, Busia County.

1971: Joins Kakamer Primary School from where he sat for his CPE in 1977.

1978: Enrolled at Chemasir Secondary School in Busia for his secondary education until 1979. The following year, 1980, moves to Kibuye Secondary school, Kisumu where he did his O levels in 1981.

1982: He joined Maseno High School where he did his A levels exam in 1983.

1985: University of Nairobi, graduated with a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Public Administration in 1988.

1989: Employed by the Public Service Commission as Administration Officer in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting until 1990.

1991: Joined the Provincial Administration as District Officer. Served in Nakuru, Trans Nzoia (1992) and Mandera (1993/95). As DO1 he served in Narok (1996), Iten 1997) and Kajiado (1998), the same he moved in as Administrative Officer 1 in the PC’s Office in Nakuru until 2000.

2000: Acting District Commissioner, Mombasa.

2001: District Commissioner, Kilifi District until 2002, moved to Uasin Gishu (2003/04) and Vihiga (2005/06).

2006: Commandant, Administration Police Training College until 2009.

2009: Regional Commissioner, Central Nyanza where he was in charge of 12 Districts.

QUOTES

2016: “I know everybody prayed for me when I fled the country since my life was in danger. God is my protector. I am here today because of my God. He could be having a reason for my six-years of suffering. God had specific plans for me when I fled the country, leaving behind my wife Millicent. I thank God my children are okay abroad. East or West, home is best. My heart still feels home.”

2017: “My life is in a mess. The initial stress of leaving the country under threats to my life affected me. It was stressful for a year. I am starting life all over again, I badly need an income which I don’t have.”

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