What Bonchari feat means for Raila, Ruto

Pavel Oimeke of ODM acknowledges his supporters after being elected the member of parliament for Bonchari constituency in the by-election. (Collins Oduor, Standard)

The Orange Democratic Movement candidate’s win in the Bonchari by-election has emboldened the party whose fortunes had been dwindling following losses in the Msambweni and Matungu by-elections, its officials and analysts say.

The former Energy Regulatory Authority Director General Pavel Oimeke’s victory further galvanised ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential ambitions in the wake of the formation of One Kenya Alliance and a stiff challenge from Deputy President William Ruto.

Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga and Kisumu Senator Fred Outa described the win as a major morale boost for ODM and a statement to their rivals that the party’s strength in the region is unrivalled.

The victory, the duo said, showed the party was still strong. “The win in Bonchari is a shot in the arm for the biggest party in the country. The win will surely push us to State House in 2022,” said Mr Outa.

Moi University lecturer Nyaga Kindiki yesterday said the win was an indication that the Handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta was still working despite the harassment and frustration allegedly meted on the ODM team by government machineries during the polls.

“A win for ODM is a win for Jubilee, as the two partners were totally against UDA,” Prof Kindiki said.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae attributed Oimeke’s win to the local leaders’ strategy.

“We thank God for his mercy. I thank all the ODM leaders on the ground, including our good senator Prof Sam Ongeri, County MP Janet Ongera and everyone who lent a hand in one way or the other to ensure this victory. We must also thank the people of Bonchari for taking our campaign messages seriously. And finally, let me congratulate the winner, Mr Pavel Oimeke for his victory,” said Mr Ongwae.

ODM treasurer Timothy Bosire said the exercise was complex. “We planned well and we collectively marketed our agenda. Every party was out to win the seat. The win has given us an opportunity to further strengthen our party,” Mr Bosire said.

He said ODM held Oimeke’s win close to its heart as it begins the quest to build campaign war chest for 2022.

People power

Former civic leader Mogire Sakawa said ODM’s success was a testimony that people’s power was stronger and that the party and Raila were still popular.

Although a number of factors including the split in the ruling Jubilee Party worked in ODM’s favour, party insiders say they are hoping to build on the lessons learnt from the win to prepare for Raila’s 2022 State House bid.

For Raila and ODM, Oimeke’s win which is largely attributed to his promises to locals and robust campaign by the party brigade led by Kisii Governor James Ongwae, is an indication that the former PM and the Orange party was still strong and a darling to locals and that Nyanza was still the outfit’s turf, Kindiki added.

Oimeke, 47, a political novice whose entrance to the race was welcomed and criticised in equal measure, as he was facing bribery allegations, yet he opted to vie on a party that has always claimed to be a strong anti-corruption crusader, garnered 8,049 votes in the Tuesday polls.  

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