ODM leader Raila Odinga is not leaving anything to chance in the forthcoming Migori Senate by-election.
Keen to see the party retain the seat, the Opposition leader on Thursday met MPs from Migori County at Capital Hill offices in Nairobi and urged them to ensure former Cabinet Minister Ochillo Ayacko wins.
MPs who attended the meeting said Raila told them to deliver the seat. Part of the strategies discussed was to conduct a funds drive to mount a formidable campaign against opponents.
“He told us to go into the by-election as a united team and seal all loopholes that may cost us the seat,” said an MP who sought anonymity for fear of being seen as leaking secrets of the meeting.
The meeting was attended by the ODM candidate Mr Ayacko and all MPs from Migori, save for Kuria West MP Mathias Robi.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed who is also the party’s Director of Elections reportedly organised the meeting.
Those in attendance were MPs Paul Abuor (Rongo), Walter Owino (Awendo), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Migori Women Rep Pamela Odhiambo and Nyatike MP Tom Odege.
Ayacko will battle it out with five aspirants. Although the ODM candidate breathed a sigh of relief after Dalmas Otieno, his strongest opponent, pulled out from the race to take up a job at the Salaries Remuneration Commission, the party is not taking any chances, given that Governor Okoth Obado who opposed Ayacko’s nomination, has kept everyone guessing about his stand.
Observers say ODM could have it rough should Obado decide to support the ODM candidate’s opponents.
MPs face the herculean task of wooing the Kuria community whose two legislators are in Jubilee, to support Ayacko.
Although Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama who was elected on a Jubilee ticket and Suna West MP Peter Masara who was an independent candidate support the Ayacko, their Kuria West counterpart Mr Robi has not declared his stand.
Obado has been mum after his preferred candidate, Mr Otieno pulled out of the race.
The governor termed ODM’s decision to give Ayacko a direct ticket, dictatorial and undemocratic.
In the Thursday meeting, Raila also told the MPs to ensure peaceful campaigns. “We want peaceful campaign laced with an oversight agenda role which is the preserve of the senate,” Raila asserted.
Last month, the ODM leader convinced some aspirants seeking the party ticket to step down. The meeting saw former MPs Edick Anyanga, John Pesa, former Migori Speaker Gordon Ogolla and the late Senator Ben Oluoch Okello’s kin Mark Okundi and Willis Okello drop out of the race.
The aspirants agreed to support the ODM nominee in anticipation of other political rewards in the party’s rank and file in future.
But this was not the case for Eddy Oketch who changed his mind barely 24 hours after the meeting with ODM party leader.
Mr Oketch, who contested in the last elections on an ODM ticket, and lost to Okello in the primaries, opted to vie as an independent and emerged second.
“I met Raila yes. He prevailed upon me to quit the race in favour of Ayacko but I couldn’t withstand the pressure from my supporters and I had to remain in the race,” he said
Gain an edge
The Federal Party of Kenya candidate claimed that from his assessment, he is popular.
But Ayacko termed Oketch a political greenhorn who cannot match him in administrative experience since he served as a minister and CEO. “Leadership is a calling and process of influence through others. I have a calling to serve the people of Migori and I ask them to humbly vote for me,” the ODM candidate said.
He said he is guided by vision and values to do good to the electorate.
Already, Oketch has hit the campaign trail and erected big posters all over the county in a bid to gain an edge over his opponents.
Odege who chaired the MPs meeting disclosed that they had divided themselves into various campaign teams.