POLITICS OF SUCCESSION

Imran Okoth: Could introvert turn out to be Kibra's dark horse?

Imran was thrust into responsibility after Ken went to seek treatment for cancer.

In Summary

• His brother Ken Okoth was the MP of Kibra from 2013 until July 26 this year when he succumbed to cancer.

• Imran was cleared by IEBC on Tuesday and will now contest in the Kibra by-election on November 7.

Benard 'Imran' Okoth when he cast his vote on September 7, 2019
Benard 'Imran' Okoth when he cast his vote on September 7, 2019
Image: COURTESY

Blood, they say, is thicker than water.

This saying has never rang truer than with Imran Okoth, who had to step up and fit in his brother, Ken Okoth's shoes after the then Kibra MP was diagnosed with Stage Four colorectal cancer.

Imran was thrust into responsibility after Ken called him late last year and asked him to take charge of Kibra constituency's affairs because he had been told to seek treatment abroad immediately.

 
 

"My brother Okoth was diagnosed with Stage Four colorectal cancer around October 2017. I was the first person he told and in November  2017, he flew to the USA for treatment. I had to step up for a brother and take charge," Imran narrated during Okoth's memorial.

Taking the bull by its horns

For three years, Imran oversaw development projects in Kibra constituency as  Ken sought treatment.

In July this year, Ken succumbed to cancer and he was cremated at Kariokor crematorium on August 4.

A day after cremation, the deceased's family appealed to ODM leader Raila Odinga to endorse Imran to be the party's ticket holder and run during the by-election.

“We want to appeal to Raila to see if he can give one of the family members that opportunity to take care of the constituency next three years,” Okoth’s nephew Elvis Oluoch told the Star.

 

He added; “We have one Imran in mind. He was the personal assistant to Ken and was the one taking care of everything when Ken was sick. So we thought he is the right person to do that because he knew every plan Ken had concerning Kibra.

 

The family's wish came to pass when Imran and 19 other aspirants were cleared by the Orange party's National Elections Board for a nomination exercise slated for September 7.

Eight aspirants were however locked out for failing to comply with the requirements set out by the party.

Strategic

On nomination day at the Kamukunji grounds, Imran was heckled by a section of the crowd.

He was forced to cut his speech short and leave the stage prematurely as the crowd shouted “Toka hapo, toka kabisa (get out of there, just leave)”.

The heckling by the ODM supporters did not crush his hopes though.

Imran embarked on a door-to-door campaign as he sold his ideologies and convinced residents he was the man behind his brother’s good leadership.

Having been the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) chairman for seven years, Imran knew the right places to visit in the constituency and did exactly that to win the majority’s support.

ODM nominations

Imran emerged victorious during the nominations, flooring nine aspirants to bag 4,382 votes.

He was followed by Peter Orero (1,218), John Milla Otieno (906), Ben Musungu (524), Christone Odhiambo, popularly known as Kris Darlin (417), Tony Ogola (381), Stephen Okello (228), Brian Owino (127), Reuben Ojijo (52) and Eric Obayi (45).

He was issued a nomination certificate on September 10 at the Orange party headquarters in Nairobi.

While handing the nomination certificate, ODM director of elections, Junet Mohamed, expressed confidence in Imran.

"Kile chama ambacho kimefanya nominations nchini katika uchaguzi huu wa Kibra ni ODM; wale wengine hawakufanya nominations…walifanya selection! Nawaambia Jubilee, ANC, Tangatanga na hao wengine wajitayarishe kwani Kibra ni ODM," Junet said.

This loosely translates to, "The only party that has conducted real nominations for the Kibra by-election is ODM. All the other parties simply selected candidates. We're telling Jubilee, ANC, Tangatanga and the rest to get ready for ODM."

Imran will battle it out with 22 other candidates during the by-election on November 7.

 
ODM Security general Edwin Sifuna(left) and KIbra MP Candidate Imran OKoth (right0 greeting Mariga's fans
ODM Security general Edwin Sifuna(left) and KIbra MP Candidate Imran OKoth (right0 greeting Mariga's fans

Introvert

Imran, together with party officials,  presented his papers to the IEBC on Tuesday at 1pm for clearance.

Imran did not say much at the venue except for exchanging pleasantries with his fans and his opponents' fans.

"Asante sana kwa kufanya nipate party nomination. Tutashinda hii kiti (Thank you for making it possible for me to get a party nomination. We shall win the Kibra seat)," he said.

Most people contacted by the Star described Imran as an 'introvert' and said that they do not know his background well.

"The guy is not vocal. He says 'mawili', 'matatu' then zips (He says two or three things then keeps quiet). No one knows what he does outside his immediate team. Today I was perplexed that he could address a crowd," James Otieno, a Kibra resident said.

“He is too shy, too quiet. We do not know much about him. Talk of his age, education or family, we have no clue,” another resident said.

Socially aware

Nonetheless, a faction of the residents said people should not underestimate Imran's level of social awareness.

"Quiet people are some of the most observant, absorbent persons of all,” resident Jane Kimani said.

Should  Imran become Kibra MP, he will join a list of individuals who have gotten into leadership due to their family ties.

Others include Kitui West MP Edith Nyenze, who took over from her husband, Francis Nyenze, after he passed on after the 2017 General Election; Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ who took over from his brother, Otieno Kajwang and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, who took over from his father following his death in 2013.