A proposed power-sharing deal in Siaya to “enhance harmony” among leaders is in jeopardy ahead of the ODM primaries.
The deal suffered a setback after Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda rejected a suggestion to drop his re-election bid in favour of nominated MP Oburu Oginga and become Cornel Rasanga’s running mate for the county’s governorship.
Governor Rasanga, a close ally of Dr Oginga, is facing stiff challenge from Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo and businessman William Oduol.
Former PS Carey Orege is also in the race.
Dr Oginga and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi have a soft spot for Mr Rasanga while the vocal Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo has declared support for Mr Gumbo thus throwing plans for a deal into disarray.
In an interview with the Nation, Mr Ochanda confessed that there were attempts to push him out of the parliamentary race and have him deputise Mr Rasanga, an offer he rejected outright.
“I can confirm to you that I have been approached by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi and Nyando MP Fred Outa to drop my bid for Mr Oginga in exchange for a running mate slot. But I cannot buy such an idea because there is no guarantee I will get the post and I am not interested start with,” Mr Ochanda said.
He went on: “To tell me to wait and become a running mate means I will not take part in ODM nominations for Bondo seat and will just wait to be handpicked as running mate because deputies are not subjected to a nomination process. This is suicidal and I am not ready to take it.”
But Mr Wandayi and Mr Outa denied pushing Mr Ochanda to drop his bid for Dr Oginga.
Mr Wandayi, the ODM director of political affairs, however, said he would not hesitate to take part in talks aimed at ensuring harmony in the county.
He said: “I welcome any discussions or talks that can bring harmony and tranquility in our party leader’s backyard, not just in Siaya alone.”
“Our focus is on the presidency and we don’t want acrimonious local political contests that can distract us,” the Ugunja MP said.
Mr Outa, the MP for Nyando in Kisumu, said he had no interest in Siaya politics.
“However, everybody including Dr Oginga has a right to contest for any seat. If he calls me to help him in campaigns, I will not hesitate because I have been their family friend for a long time,” said Mr Outa.
Mr Wandayi noted: “As a national party official, I cannot be involved in individuals’ campaigns. I must remain neutral and stay above the fray.”
The move by Dr Oginga, the opposition chief Raila Odinga’s elder brother to make fresh attempts to recapture the seat he held for a record 20 years is threatening to further divide local leaders in the area.
Dr Oginga inherited the seat formerly held by his late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1992 until 2013 when he contested for governor seat after a negotiated deal with Mr Ochanda who dropped his gubernatorial bid to go for MP. He lost the race to Cornel Rasanga.