TRANSITION

MP Oyioka's political journey overshadowed by tragedies

The Bonchari lawmaker died on Monday at a hospital in Kisumu

In Summary
  • The late MP has had a string of two political victories cut short but this time around by death
  • Leaders describe him as one who played a crucial role in uplifting the standards of education in the constituency
Bonchari MP John Oroo Oyioka
Bonchari MP John Oroo Oyioka
Image: JOHN OROO OYIOKA
I have always known him as a humble man, one who was dedicated to transform the lives of his people

 

 

Bonchari MP Oroo Oyioka struck a quiet and reserved mien but was endowed with subtle traits of a real fighter.

When he retired as an educationist and secondary school teacher in 2013, Oyioka built a private teachers' college, Angelic, at Suneka- a few kilometers from his rural home.

The college would later take the county by storm, admitting local secondary school graduates for P1 and ECD teacher training as Oyioka's fame rose rapidly.

Through the Angelic brand, Oyioka also founded a couple of well-performing private primary schools across Kisii county, making him a leading investor in the education sector.

And when the 2013 General Election came calling, Oyioka's popularity was almost drowning that of then outgoing MP Charles Onyancha and his predecessor Zepedeo Opore.

Leveraging on the networks he had cultivated while serving as a school principal, Oyioka mounted a ferocious campaign as he made his debut into politics, defeating the two-ex MPs.

However, the IEBC in a move that would test Oyioka's political jaws, 'erroneously' declared Opore—his foremost rival—the winner in the hotly contested poll.

The IEBC, which was later indicted over open electoral fraud on Oyioka, had handed Opore the victory with a winning margin of five votes.

Opore, was also no easy man to beat given his 10 year stint in Parliament between 1997 and 2007.

However, in the 2013 elections while trying to capture his seat from Onyancha who succeeded him in 2007, Oyioka garnered 8,987 votes against Opore's 8,992 votes.

Hadn't Oyioka moved to court, he could have been condemned to the political cold for the whole of President Uhuru Kenyatta's first term in office.

A recount and scrutiny ordered by the Kisii High Court would later reveal that Oyioka had actually won the election by a margin of four votes, garnering 8,967 against Opore’s 8,963.

The 2013 parliamentary race and the ensuing battle would set Oyioka on tragic trajectory that has defined his seven-year political career until he breathed his last on Monday.

The High Court had, in a landmark ruling by Justice Ruth Sitati, declared Oyioka the validly elected Bonchari MP and ordered the IEBC to issue him with winner's certificate.

That way, without a by-election, Oyioka through the Kanu ticket stormed into the 11th Parliament as the duly elected MP for Bonchari constituency.

While testifying how his victory was stolen in 2013, Oyioka had been overwhelmed with emotion and broke down as he recalled how tables were turned on his win.

All along, Oyioka had told the election court, he was leading other candidates but at the end of it, the IEBC returning officer handed his rival who was trailing him the win.

Things would later assume a tragic turn after his sweet victory was cut shot by a Court of Appeal nullification of his victory, triggering a bitter by-election in which he lost to his main political nemesis, Opore.

Fearing the strong ODM wave in Kisii region, just months after Jubilee had rode to power, Oyioka decamped from independence party Kanu to the Orange Party in an attempt to defend his seat.

The ODM under the Cord coalition, put a spirited fight but in one of the most hard fought by-elections but lost to Jubilee's Opore, ending Oyioka's six month stint in Parliament.

Opore won the June 24, 2014 by-election after garnering 10,947 votes, followed by Oyioka who received 6,977 votes.

Despite a spirited legal showdown by Oyioka against Opore's election, the courts upheld Opore's victory in a major political setback to the then budding politician.

A testimony of Oyioka's popularity in the constituency, the electorate turned the tide against Opore in 2017 and voted in the late MP who had assumed the biblical enduring 'Naomi' tag.

Oyioka came back and reclaimed his seat in a dramatic fashion after garnering 11, 963 votes.

A spirited legal fight by Opore that went all the way to the Supreme Court saw, Oyioka's election upheld. However, the grim reaper that is death, on Monday snuffed Oyioka, a man who has been eulogised as a passionate educationist and entrepreneur.

"I have always known him as a humble man, one who was dedicated to transforming the lives of his people. As governor, I pray that God gives you strength in these difficult times," Kisii Governor James Ongwae said when he condoled with Oyioka's family at his Bonchari home.

Deputy Governor Joash Maangi in a tweet described Oyioka as one who played a crucial role in uplifting the standards of education in the constituency.

Other leaders who sent condolences include MPs Ezekiel Machogu (Nyaribari Masaba), Innocent Obiri (Bobasi), Senator Sam Ongeri and Woman Representative Janet Ong'era.

Oyioka's death could offer a ring for political boxing with all eyes on ODM and Jubilee if they would trade off again in the interest of the handshake.

Kisii region is believed to be Raila's stronghold but Bonchari has always sprung surprises that could see Deputy President William Ruto's Tangatanga camp make forays into the county.

 

Edited by Sarah Kanyara