ODM primaries go on smoothly after weeks of controversies

Voters queue during ODM nominations at Nyakoko polling centre in Muhoroni Constituency on April 14, 2022. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

After days of controversies, presidential hopeful Raila Odinga’s ODM appeared to have removed some bottlenecks that had dogged it’s party primaries.

However, in an isolated incident, a man accused of bribing voters was stabbed by an irate mob and sustained serious injuries.

Police also fired teargas canisters to disperse a rowdy mob who had stormed Urudi Primary School over claims that someone had sneaked in unidentified voting gadget.

Calm was restored after a few minutes and voting continued.

This came as thousands of the party’s supporters turned up to participate in the nominations yesterday.

And unlike the polls conducted in Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori that were marred by failures of electronic gadgets, the exercise largely went on smoothly in Kisumu.

Fears of potential voter apathy fueled by the decision by the party not to conduct nominations for the governor position took a back seat as leaders indicated the voter turnout was exemplary.

There were only a few hitches over shortage of voting gadgets in some polling stations that had registered huge turnouts earlier in the day.

By 7am, almost all the polling stations had started the exercise.

At the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports ground polling centre, jubilant supporters praised the exercise and described it as a success.

Francis Opiyo, a voter, everything went according to plan and described the voting exercise as seamless.

“The line was moving well and the gadgets were also working well,” he said.

Some people who had not registered as members of the Orange party were turned away.

For the first time in devolution era, the party is relying on technology to conduct its nominations.

It believes the introduction of the paperless voting system has improved credibility of the exercise.

In Kisumu, voters elected contestants for Woman Representative, Senate, MCAs and Nyakach, Kisumu East, Kisumu Central parliamentary seats.

Leaders lauded the process as free and fair and claimed it was a milestone for the party.

Muhoroni MP James K’oyoo who is seeking a third term, said the turnout was okay.

“We have not experienced any major challenges. Voting is running smoothly,” he said .

Similar sentiments were also shared in Nyakach and Kisumu Central constituencies.

ODM NEB commissioner Sintei Nchoe said the party had borrowed lessons from some of the areas it has done the polls to ensure that the Kisumu party primaries were seamless.

However, pressure started to rise late in the afternoon as claims of voter bribery and electoral malpractices emerged. 

Three family members of ODM leader Raila Odinga were among the aspirants who were battling it out for various seats. 

Among those who were on the ODM ballot included Raila’s younger sister Ruth Odinga who wants the Kisumu Woman Representative seat.

Ruth served as Kisumu deputy governor.

She however faced stiff contest from five aspirants in the form of former City Manager Doris Ombara, former leader of Citizens Conventions Party (CCP) Grace Akumu and businesswoman Beatrice Onyango. 

Raila’s nephew — Oburu Oginga’s son — Elijah Oburu was competing in Kisumu Central. He faced off with incumbent Fred Ouda, businessman Joshua Oron and Victor Radido.

In a recent interview with The Standard, Elijah said he is seeking his own path and dismissed claims that the family is a political dynasty.

“I am seeking to build myself as Elijah. My family has also contributed immensely to the country’s political space but that is not the basis upon which I am contesting,” he said.

He wanted to be given a fair chance to contest as other aspirants and is optimistic of clinching the party’s ticket. In Market Milimani ward, another Raila kin, George Abwajo battled it out with some five aspirants for the seat.