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Ruth Odinga: Why there is voter apathy in Nyanza

Kisumu County director of special programs Ruth Odinga while addressing the press during gender-based violence forum in Kisumu on February 1, 2019. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

ODM party leader Raila Odinga’s sister, Ruth Odinga has said claims that the party has preferred candidates ahead of its primaries is discouraging Nyanza residents from registering as voters.

 Ms Odinga, who is coordinating voter registration mobilisation in the region, said all residents of the four Nyanza counties of Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori have lost hope in registering as voters.

Speaking in Homa Bay town during a consultative meeting yesterday, Ms Odinga said the residents were discouraged by the perception that ODM already has a list of preferred candidates who will be favoured in the nominations.

“Residents of this region have told us that ODM has preferred candidates in the forthcoming party primaries and the general election. This is a recipe for voter registration apathy. They see no need of registering as voters,” she said.

She said ODM supporters say some politicians are bragging that they have paved the way to secure the party ticket for various elective posts during nominations.

The former Kisumu Deputy Governor said the notion should be discouraged.

“I have presented views of the public. But my advice is that they should change their attitude and register as voters,” Ms Odinga said.

She urged politicians to focus on how to help in the exercise so that Raila gets more votes in the region.

Ms Odinga said the leadership of the ODM party had clarified that it does not have preferable candidates in its nominations.

“Residents should know that ODM has not given anyone the nomination certificate. Let us concentrate on voter registration,” she said.

The meeting was attended by deputy county commissioners of all eight sub-counties in Homa Bay County and ODM officials from eight constituencies led by the county coordinator Tom Okong’o.

Homa Bay Deputy County Commissioner Jude Wasonga said their offices are providing eligible residents with ID cards to enable them to become voters.

“We have directed our chiefs to distribute all the uncollected IDs to applicants to enable them to be enlisted as voters,” Wasonga said.