Raila urges supporters to register in high numbers


ODM leader Raila Odinga in Homabay town. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga is unhappy with the slow pace his supporters are turning out to register as voters.

Alarmed by the poor turn out in the first week of the exercise, Raila said it would be futile to press on with his presidential bid if his supporters were not registering.

“This thing is not a joke. Do you want me to stop? If you do not register as voters then there is no need for me to contest,” he said.

The ODM chief said increased number of voters in his support bases will strengthen his bid and make his partners from other parts of the country, take him seriously. He observed that some people wanted gifts before enlisting as voters and termed it as embarrassing.

“You are even embarrassing me. We have records and by yesterday in Kisumu for example, only 3,000 people had registered as voters,” he said.

He decried the a snail’s pace at which the residents are registering and declared the apathy witnessed in some areas unacceptable and embarrassing. Speaking during the burial of Dr Odhiambo Olel, a former physician to his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila said an increased vote basket will boost his presidential bid.

“We want our people to enlist as voters in large numbers. It is being said but people are not taking it seriously,” said Raila.

Since the start of the exercise, only a handful of people have turned up for the exercise with most registration stations set up by the electoral body, deserted. In some, only IEBC officials passed time as they waited to no avail for potential new voters.

Boost chances

Yesterday, Raila challenged all his supporters to take advantage of the exercise to boost his chances of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta.  In the region, political leaders have a tough task convincing residents to register as voters after a similar lag in the first enhanced voter registration by the IEBC last year only increased the tally by a handful of new voters.

The Saturday Standard has established that Raila has also criticised ODM leaders for not mobilising people to register as voters. The slow pace of registration elicits fears of voter apathy even during the actual election day, as witnessed in the past. Some residents too have faulted leaders for failing to encourage people to enlist.

During the burial in Kabondo Kasipul, Dr Olel’s family eulogised him as a visionary father who transformed their lives and has left behind huge shoes they will struggle to fit. The veteran doctor who was part of the second liberation struggle and among those detained by the government.

His son Ochanda Olel said death had robbed the family of an inspirational figure and loving father. “He has left a big shoe that we will struggle to fit,” said Ochanda.

Maureen Olel Nyabundi, his daughter, said they would strive to emulate the high standards he set adding that her father struggled for the country. Members of the Jaramogi family led by Oburu Oginga recounted the huge role the veteran physician played in the revolutionary struggle.

Raila recounted the painful ordeals they went through during detention including an elaborate explanation on how they were tortured.

“Dr Olel was an astute professional. He could have chosen to restrict himself to his profession but opted to be part of the struggle,” said Raila.

He said after detention, the physician offered free medical services and was a selfless professional. For the better stint of his career, the veteran doctor treated ex-detainees and ex-prisoners free of charge.

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