The race to replace former Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo has begun in earnest barely a week after the courts upheld his impeachment.
Oloo was last month impeached by the assembly over irregularities in the construction of the Sh4.5 billion Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) Mall in Kisumu. The mall was put up when Oloo served as chair of the authority.
Construction of the mall was, however, later assessed by a team of experts from Public works who prepared a report dated March 2018 and valued it at Sh3.01 billion. This meant the final account was overstated by Sh1.12 billion.
His efforts to challenge his impeachment hit a snag after Justice Nduma Nderi ruled that his ouster had followed the law.
Two candidates have already confirmed that they are in the race to take over, as Assembly Clerk Owen Ojuok prepares to officially declare the seat vacant.
Intense lobbying for the seat has already began with a number of people already consulting with the Orange Democratic Movement party as well as MCAs to back them for the seat.
They include Ken Amondi, an advocate of the High Court who narrowly lost to Oloo in the 2017 Speaker’s race. Amondi was also one of the lawyers who challenged Oloo’s dismissal at the industrial court.
Amondi who plies his legal trade in Kisumu and Nairobi had his first stab for the seat in 2013 but lost to Anne Adul. This will be his third attempt at capturing the seat.
The other is Kisumu North Ward MCA Elisha Oraro, who has been acting in the absence of Oloo. Oraro, an engineer by profession, was an active member of the camp which pushed the Oloo ouster.
Amondi has confirmed that he is already engaging Members of the County Assembly with the aim of seeking their approval once the seat is declared vacant.
“I have all the qualifications required for the position, and I am ready to face the MCAs once again. There were a few challenges which arose during my previous attempts, and I believe this time round all is sorted,” he said.
Amondi shot into the limelight last year when he successfully challenged a 16 per cent fuel tax imposed by the national government through the high court in Bungoma, after which President Uhuru Kenyatta backed down and reduced the tax to eight per cent.
Tough questions, however, remain on whether the ODM party, which commands the membership of the House will settle on Oraro or back Amondi who has also been representing the party’s interest in various cases in court.
During his short stint as acting speaker, Oraro has rallied MCAs to support his leadership and recently launched an assembly Mashinani initiative in a bid to improve the relationship between the House and the public.
Even though he did not respond to our texts and calls to confirm his interest in the seat, Kondele MCA Joachim Oketch who has been deputising the acting speaker confirmed that his boss was indeed in the race.
“We already have a Speaker and when the seat is declared vacant, we will just confirm him,” said Oketch.
He, however, faces strong opposition from MCAs who were allied to Oloo and have been dealt a blow after they were removed from key Assembly positions.
Kajulu MCA Roy Samo, who was the acting speaker during Oloo’s tenure said Oloo still has a chance of making a comeback once he lodges an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
It is, however, unclear when the Assembly will declare the speaker’s seat vacant even as a section of MCAs claimed that there are documents that can only be signed by a substantive speaker.
Mr Ojuok yesterday confirmed that lobbying had begun for the seat, but indicated that there was no hurry in declaring the it vacant.
“There is a lacuna in law on how long one should act as the speaker, so we are putting a few things in order before the seat can be declared vacant,” he said.
According to the Assembly Clerk, the ouster of former Speaker Oloo brought a lot of division in the assembly, and there was need for the members to bond before electing another speaker.
“There is no need of going for the speaker’s election a divided house. We need to get together and sort out the issues we have, before we can get someone,” he said.