Prof Sam Ongeri
His critics say he should retire and pass his political baton to the younger generation, but Prof Sam Ongeri is warming up for yet another long haul in active politics.
Two weeks after abandoning the government – his political home for decades – for the Opposition, Prof Ongeri said: “I am as fit as a fiddle, ready to serve the Omogusii as the Kisii Senator”.
The former Kenya’s envoy to the UN Habitat equally has no apology for joining ODM leader Raila Odinga whose political ideologies he has criticised for years.
Ongeri, 79, reveals he ditched Jubilee Party after a long reflection and consultations for the sake of the Kisii people. He has since announced Kisii an Opposition zone.
“It has taken the loud and unanimous voice of my people asking me to join their party of choice. It took me time to listen keenly and the desire to join the party of the Omugusii has been heard and I assure residents that am in ODM to stay,” said Ongeri.
He added: “I bring along my years of experience, development record, and vision for Kisii and my loyalty to my people, country and my new party ODM. Just as it took time to get me in; it will be next to impossible to get me out”. However, analysts observe that Prof Ongeri felt shortchanged after campaigning for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) in the last General Election.
Others are of the opinion that he was angered by the appointment of former Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) chairman Charles Nyachae to head Jubilee presidential campaigns in Nyanza.
Jubilee point man
From the Nyayo era, through to the Coalition Government and the UhuRuto era, Ongeri has been the government point man in the Abagusi community.
He will be battling it out with Charles, former Cabinet Minister, Simeon Nyachae’s first born son.
Ongeri was received formally by ODM leader Raila Odinga at Gusii Stadium on Monday last week setting the mood for what is expected to become a battle of titans for the senatorial seat.
The Prof has teamed up with Governor James Ongwae in ODM while Nyachae has teamed up with Kisii Senator Chris Obure, on a Jubilee ticket to dethrone Ongwae. Already, proxy wars have begun on the ground, as evidenced in their public remarks.
Nyachae is calling for the resignation of Ongeri from active politics and accused him of betrayal.
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“It is shameful for Prof Ongeri at his age to betray a government he has served for over 20 years. He closely follows my father in terms of age. He should follow in the footsteps of my retired father and peacefully exit the stage,” Nyachae said.
In response, Ongeri called on Nyachae to debate ideas and not age. “My age is not an issue. What I bring to the people is what matters,” he said.
The two have had long-standing political supremacy wars dating back to 1988 when the larger Nyaribari Constituency was split into two forming Nyaribari Masaba and Nyaribari Chache.
In the same year, Ongeri won the Nyaribari Masaba seat while Nyachae had been barred from contesting by Kanu loyalists owing to internal wars.
Another Kanu, loyalist Andrew Omanga, captured the seat. With the older and experienced Ongeri in the ring, voters are set to witness one of the toughest wars ever seen in the region for years.