LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

No secret ODM lineup of Siaya aspirants — Mbadi

But national chairman says there's nothing wrong with members teaming and campaigning

In Summary

• Mbadi dismisses rumours of a secret lineup of hopefuls gunning for seats in the ODM stronghold.

• On Tuesday, the Nation reported a secret lineup of Siaya Senator James Orengo for governor and Oburu Odinga, Raila Odinga's brother, as deputy governor

ODM has no preferred candidate for any seat in Siaya and there's no secret list of favourites, national chairman John Mbadi has said.

But he said there is nothing wrong with party members teaming up and campaigning together.

Mbadi on Tuesday said the party has not discussed a lineup for any county that has aspirants seeking the party’s ticket.

He rejected a report by the Daily Nation that ODM has a secret lineup of Siaya Senator James Orengo for Governor and a prospective deputy to be named.

The purported lineup report created a storm and some leaders said a predetermined lineup would jeopardise ongoing voter registration.

Orengo would be supported by outgoing Governor Cornel Rasanga and by Oburu Odinga, Raila Odinga's brother. Oburu is a member of the East African Legislative Assembly.

Oburu would be supported for Senate by Orengo and Rasanga, the news account said.

Orengo and Oburu would support Rasanga for the Alego-Usonga parliamentary seat currently held by Samuel Atandi, the report said.

The lineup and other posts are said to have the blessing of the party's top leadership.

Mbadi said all bonafide ODM members are free to seek nomination for any elective position in primaries. 

“We are encouraging consensus building to minimise acrimony,” Mbadi said. "People are still in the same house and when it comes to party nominations or primaries, they can discuss."

Mbadi said ODM has two ways of picking candidates for all seats.

The first is consensus leading to direct tickets.

“If consensus is not reached, we move to the next level, voting by party members,” Mbadi said.  A primary.

“Any member who wishes to exercise his or her ambition will not be stopped by the party.”

Mbadi rejected the report of secret lineup of hopefuls gunning for various ODM seats in Siaya.

The story also linked Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo and Jalan'go Midiwo to the lineup.

Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, who was not favoured in the purported lineup, criticised Rasanga, saying he was behind the scheme.

The MP asked the governor to focus on mobilising people to vote instead of preoccupying himself with an election 10 months away.

“Rasanga is the author of the lineup. He wants to force himself on the people of Alego-Usonga instead of going home. He failed to deliver in his current position and will be rejected,” he said.

When reached comment, Rasanga did not distance himself from the lineup.

The governor asked Atandi to forget about retaining the Alego-Usonga seat.

“He should not challenge me to work hard towards Raila’s bid. Raila knows what I have done towards his bid and what I continue doing,” he said on Tuesday.

“I will defeat him in Alego-Usonga.”

Oburu and Orengo did not comment on the lineup debate.

Atandi said all politicians from Nyanza who wish to see Raila win in the next presidential election, should be working extra hours to mobilise eligible youths to acquire voter’s cards.

“Raila has asked us to abandon early campaigns and focus on voters registration. Anyone obsessed with individual campaigns, like the Siaya governor, is the enemy of our party leader,” he said.

Nyanza leaders, including ODM leader Raila Odinga, have decried the low turnout to register to vote.

“We are heading to war with our opponents, you should register as voters,” Raila said in Nyando. He urged elected leaders and aspirants to urge people to register.

Mbadi said while members were free to run, the party cannot stop members from forming alliances and friendships to campaign.

“Some people want to stir up political temperatures in Siaya to antagonize Raila because that is his birthplace,” Mbadi said.

The ODM party chairman said there was nothing wrong if Orengo and Oburu decided to team up, saying it was their democratic right.

Mbadi said the party needs leaders like Oburu in the Senate, adding that most Kenyans were yet to appreciate the role of the Senate as a house of mature politicians.

“If Orengo is leaving and Oburu is going for it, there is nothing wrong with that. He is the person to succeed Orengo,” he said.

After Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi pulled out of the Siaya gubernatorial race on Thursday, the contest appears to be a two-horse race between Orengo and immediate former police spokesman Charles Owino.

Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo on Saturday confirmed he will run for governor.

He declined to disclose which party's ticket he will seek.

It is said he is being wooed to vie on an Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket. The party leader is Ugenya MP David Ochieng.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris