Kennedy Onyango Obiero who is vying for the Kisumu West Member of Parliament seat [PHOTO BY PHILLIP ORWA/STANDARD]
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is facing an uphill task in reclaiming the Kisumu West Constituency with two candidates now vowing to lock the party out of a region considered to be its stronghold.
The two, current MP Olago Aluoch and the youthful Kennedy Onyango, who is contesting as an independent candidate, have already launched spirited campaigns as they seek to counter ODM in the region.
ODM is relying on a newcomer, former Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESHA) chairperson John Awiti, to reclaim the seat it lost to Ford Kenya in 2013.
While ODM nominees in the region have always registered good results in elections in the region, Mr Awiti, who is throwing his hat in the political ring for the first time, faces a huge task against the two.
In the 2013 elections, the region defied the push by ODM for a six-piece-suit voting pattern narrowly voted for Ford Kenya’s Mr Olago after shambolic ODM nominations.
Victims of crooks
Olago got 22,946 votes against ODM’s Roza Buyu’s 21,349 in a hotly contested poll.
This year, several complaints were raised about the party primaries, with independent candidate Onyango claiming he was rigged out in favour of Awiti.
Following the bungled polls, some candidates became victims of crooks who conned them out of millions with promises to award them the coveted ODM ticket.
Onyango has now vowed to marshal his supporters to defeat not only the ODM nominee but Ford Kenya’s Olago in what is set to be a tough contest.
Stakes are already high in the constituency as the three aspirants embark on a series of strategy meetings as well as mobilisation of support at the grassroots level in a bid to outdo each other.
ODM has already started drumming up support for its candidate following calls by party leader Raila Odinga for the people to vote only ODM candidates.
All the party’s nominees in the county are already planning to campaign together in what is set to be a big boost for Awiti as he seeks to make a mark in the political arena.
The former St Mary’s Yala High School Principal told The Standard he wants to bring development as well as transform the education sector in the region.
“I believe that there are areas that the current MP has not tackled well, including skewed bursary allocations as well as the provision of water and this must change,” said Awiti.
Onyango believes that Olago has under-performed and has vowed to trounce both of them for the seat.
He said he intends to initiate several projects that will help create employment to the youth.
“My victory was stolen in the primaries but the same is not going to happen in August. ODM will never see Kisumu West constituency again,” said Onyango.
With clannism expected to play a big hand in the race, the candidates have already sought the blessings of their various clans with the hopes of helping them capture the seat.
In the past, votes have not only been cast against party lines, but voters have also defied clannism to elect the leaders of their choice with one of its five wards also electing an MCA on a Federal Party of Kenya (FPK) ticket.
Both Olago and Awiti told The Standard that clannism is unlikely to have a major impact on the race with the electorate now only focused on the agenda of the candidates.
Olago is from Kanyakwar clan, which largely consists of people who hail from other places but have bought land and have now become part and parcel of the constituency while Awiti is from Kisumo clan.
Onyango, who insists clannism will favour his bid, is from Kadongo clan.
“Most people are no longer interested in where you come from and are only interested in what you can do for them in terms of development,” said Awiti.
Olago, however, remains unfazed by their entry into the race and has said his track record in initiating development as well as his grassroots mobilisation skills would earn him re-election.
“I have done my best and initiated several projects that have had a positive impact on the lives of my constituents,” said Olago.
Recent polls have already tipped Olago to be re-elected in the August polls with Infotrack listing him second with 67.9 per cent after Shakeel Shabbir of Kisumu East, who had 69.2 per cent in the list of MPs that are likely to be re-elected in Kisumu.
In 2013, the legislator became one of the few leaders who went against the ODM wave in Nyanza and clinched the seat on a Ford Kenya ticket. He says that the same way he was voted for him in 2013 because of his track record is the same way they are going to back his re-election bid in the August polls.