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January 20, 2019

Raila and Ruto clash looms in Migori senator by-election

Senator aspirant Ochillo Ayacko addressing mourners at the funeral of North Kamagambo MCA Richard Solo's father on August 22
Senator aspirant Ochillo Ayacko addressing mourners at the funeral of North Kamagambo MCA Richard Solo's father on August 22

The Migori senator by-election is turning out to be a battle pitting former Prime Minister Raila Odinga against DP William Ruto.

While Jubilee will not be fielding a candidate, the DP is plotting to use the by-election to take on Raila’s dominance in the largely cosmopolitan county.

Ruto yesterday met two MPs from the county at a Nairobi hotel, triggering speculations he was scheming to support former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno in the October 8 by-election.

Curiously in what appeared to be a strategy by Raila, Otieno was on Monday nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Otieno is yet to speak out about the nomination and if he will accept it once approved by Parliament.

In an indication of the high stakes in Migori, Ayacko was picked as an ambassador. He, however, turned down the nomination to focus on the senator seat.

Otieno, who will run on a National Liberal Party ticket, has received backing from Migori governor Okoth Obado who has objected ODM’s decision to give Ochillo Ayacko a direct ticket for the October race.

The governor who went against all odds to clinch the ODM ticket ahead of last year’s general election enjoys close ties with the DP and accused ODM of dictatorship.

With the entry of the DP, the Migori race is expected to be a bruising battle for Ayacko with the governor expected to rally his ODM supporters behind Otieno.

But yesterday Raila said while Obado objected to the nomination of ODM candidate, he was yet to write formally to the party explaining his grievances.

"He [Obado] has his democratic right to disagree but we want to meet him out there in the field. But if he has issues, he should engage the party either verbally or through written ways," Raila said.

Asked if the party would seek to punish Obado for his rebellion, Raila said that was not in the cards.

In an indication of the significance of the Migori seat Raila yesterday met five aspirants for the ODM ticket at Orange House to rally them behind Ayacko.

The aspirants Edick Anyanga (former Nyatike MP), John Pesa, Mark Onkundi, Willis Oketch and Eddy Oketch said they decided to support Ayacko in the interest of the party.

“I don’t want to support any other party that opposes what ODM stands for,” Pesa said.

As Raila and Ruto schemed in Nairobi, some ODM members in Migori were accusing the DP of sponsoring a candidate in the by-election to test his popularity in Nyanza.

Ayacko and county party chairman Philip Makabongo and secretary general Joseph Olala said the party’s future in Migori and Homa Bay is at stake.

“What we are facing is not a battle between me and my political rivals, this is about the future of ODM in the area against Ruto,” Ayacko said.

He said Dalmas Otieno, who will run on NLP ticket is being used by ‘team tanga tanga’ to use Migori as a springboard for 2022.

“Raila Odinga and the entire ODM brigade will roll on them like a roller-coaster, they will be taken to the political dustbin by the end of this by-election,” Ayacko said.

More than 380,000 voters in the cosmopolitan county will vote for their third senator in the October by-election since devolution.

The seat fell vacant after Senator Ben Okello succumbed to throat cancer in June.

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