Loyalty battle as Mbadi and Orange House owner seek ODM ticket

ODM chairman John Mbadi

ODM chairman John Mbadi is staring at what appears his biggest challenger in defending his Suba Constituency seat.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s aide and owner of Orange House, the building that houses Mbadi and his ODM officials, has set eyes on the parliamentary seat, setting the stage for a fierce battle between the two party leader’s close allies.

The entry of Caroli Omondi, a top Raila aide when he was Prime Minister, will undoubtedly be a litmus test for ODM and how it conducts its nominations.

Mbadi, who was first elected in 2007, beat Omondi in the party nominations. Omondi, the former Chief of Staff in the office of the Prime Minister and a lawyer christened “Dangote” for his financial muscle, also lost to Moses Kajwang’ in the nominations for Homa Bay Senate by-election in January last year.

Mbadi and Omondi are already throwing barbs at each other, if only to show who is more loyal to the party.

Omondi boasts that in 2013, Mbadi was only re-elected because he did not vie and that he offered direct financial support to all ODM candidates countrywide at a total of Sh92 million, direct support to the presidential campaign kitty (Sh175 million) and direct support in terms of materials such as T-shirts (Sh200 million).

“Mbadi was re-elected not because he was popular, but because there was no alternative since I did not run, despite the people asking me to,” he says.

He also blames flawed nominations for his loss to Kajwang’. “People are bitter that with all these contributions, ODM could not even let me be a senator and so the Suba people have decided I must be the MP,” Omondi says.

He insists he will still run on an ODM ticket, but with a condition.

Queue voting

“Because ODM’s nominations are always bungled, in Suba the nominations will be different and that is what the people demand, that they are done through queue voting,” Omondi says.

He accuses Mbadi of using his party chairmanship to go around the constituency, endorsing other politicians right from the incumbent governor to MCA aspirants.

But Mbadi dismisses the claim, terming it a “fallacy” and accuses Omondi of engaging in unfounded propaganda.

“I am worried not on how to defeat him because I will, but by what margin. Because if he gets even 30 per cent of the votes, then to me I would have failed,” Mbadi says.

Suba constituency is made up of Gwassi and Central divisions, the former making up 70 per cent, while the latter 30 per cent of the population.

Gwassi division is inhabited majorly by the Wagasi major clan, which makes up 60 per cent, while other smaller sub-clans make up 10 per cent. The small clans are often up for grabs and anyone who plays his or her cards right can have their votes. The major tiff is in the Wagasi clan.

Chances that a Suba MP would come from Wagasi clan is high since they are the majority. All three who seek the seat, including the incumbent, are from this clan. The third aspirant is Jacky Nyambeji.

The Wagasi then have two major sub-clans, the Kubia and the Kamwenda. Again, all the three contestants are from Kubia, which is dominant. The Kubia is again divided into two smaller clans, the Kalisuria where both Mbadi and Ms Nyambeji come from, while Omondi comes from Kadibuoro clan.

Besides party and clan politics, Omondi claims Mbadi has done little for the almost decade he has been MP.

He accuses him of unfair distribution of CDF, citing  Nyabwecheche Primary School where classrooms have mud floors and walls.

But Mbadi says all schools with mud classrooms when he was first elected now have permanent and better structures. He also prides himself of starting 14 new primary schools and 23 more secondary schools during his tenure.

He says before devolution, he built nine health facilities and seven are operational.

“Even before the government came up with the recent electrification programme, my constituency had connectivity and before I was elected, not even one electric pole was in sight,” Mbadi says.