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REVEALED :Governor Obado’s fresh strategy to weaken Raila’s dominance in Luo Nyanza

By Manuel Odeny  | The Star
Migori Governor Okoth Obado has launched a campaign to dislodge ODM boss Raila Odinga as the foremost Luo political figure.

Obado is an ally of Deputy President William Ruto and has had an on-off political relationship with the former Prime Minister. On Saturday, he accused Raila of silencing dissident in his Nyanza backyard.

The second-term governor said he will be rolling out an aggressive campaign to position himself as the leader of the Luo community.

For the first time, Obado, punching above his weight, dared to face Raila in a bruising battle ahead of next year’s election.

Several politicians who previously treaded on a similar path failed. They include Siaya Senator James Orengo, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyongo, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju.

Obado announced plans to revamp the People Democratic Party, an outfit on whose ticket he won the governorship in 2013 after defecting from ODM. He rejoined the Orange party in the run-up to the 2017 election.

“I am ready to take over the leadership of the community from leaders whose job is to blackmail and intimidate their opponents,” Obado said in Uriri, his home constituency.

The county boss said it was time the community embraced alternative leadership.

“Time has come that we must be allowed to exercise our freedom of speech without fear. We are tired of the burdens we have carried for decades, it is time for liberation of the Luo community,” Obado said.

Signalling a looming showdown, Obado backed off from the Building Bridges Initiative, saying it will overburden Kenyans.

“We were told that nobody could stop reggae, but right now it looks like a cockroach has eaten a wire in the system and the tune is not coming out properly,” he said on Saturday.

This is the first time since 2017 that Obado was publicly chiding Raila who is the co-principal of the BBI that seeks to amend the Constitution. Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2018 handshake birthed the process.

Obado attributed the delays in the release of devolved funds to the counties to the country’s heavy debt burden, which he said would worsen if the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is adopted in a referendum.

“We don’t want anything to do with the BBI, which will only add burden to Kenyans by increasing seats for elites and undermine democracy through intimidation, blackmail and coercing into submission of other leaders through arrests and court charges,” Obado said, adding that the “BBI process is misleading Kenyans.”

Obado has ongoing cases in court, having been charged with murder and corruption-related counts.

He said he will be popularising PDP through which he will seek the people’s mandate directly. PDP is associated with former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara.

The governor claimed Uhuru had used Raila to get the approval of the proposed constitutional amendments through the county assemblies, only to turn his back on him.

Obado said the claims that Uhuru was behind the One Kenya Alliance of leaders Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Gideon Moi (Kanu), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-K) is enough evidence that Raila had been played.

“He (Uhuru) has thrown him (Raila) under the bus,” he told the gathering.

He said MCAs and leaders who questioned the validity of the BBI were threatened with arrest and prosecution. “If you pointed out why the BBI is bad, you were arrested and charged, but through God we can say the BBI is bad.”

While all other Nyanza governors have been working closely with Raila, Obado has been the thorn in the ODM leader’s flesh. He has often gone against the ODM grain.

In the 2013 election, he weathered the ODM storm that swept across across the region. He had decamped from ODM after what he described as shambolic, the nomination that was won by Prof Edward Ayugi.

In 2017, sensing that it would be nearly impossible to defend his seat on a PDP ticket, Obado strategically rejoined ODM. He won the party nomination and ended up retaining his seat, twice beating Ochilo Ayacko, the current Migori senator.

After the death of Senator Oluoch Okello, Ayacko won a hard-fought by-election against Obado’s candidate Eddy Oketch.

Signs that Obado was preparing to leave ODM emerged in February when he hosted Magara and several leaders in a private meeting at his Rapogi home.

Shortly afterwards, a county parallel ODM office associated with him was repainted with grey colours. The office was at the centre of the chaotic 2017 governor politics that saw Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and then-Kisumu Senator Nyong’o (now governor) attacked.

The office, a brick walled bungalow in Namba area, lies four kilometres from Migori town. It had been rebranded Orange House 044 after Obado ditched PDP for ODM on July 8, 2016. He said it was a gift that would help the party work from a central point and allow easy coordination of county activities.

In January 23, Raila told off Obado in public for working with DP Ruto to undermine Nyanza unity. This was during the funeral of former Ndhiwa MP Owigo Olang’ in Nyatike.

“I also saw Obado distributing some wheelbarrows somewhere,” Raila said. Wheelbarrows are associated with Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance party.

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Mwalimu Ahmed
Mwalimu Ahmed
March 30, 2021 8:33 am

Interesting times



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