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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Guv Awiti camp carries the day in Homa Bay race

The Orange Democratic Movement’s victory in the Homa Bay senatorial by-elections last week which was initially believed to be a big political headache for party leader Raila Odinga has now seen new political players emerge in the county with rebels being put on notice.
The man who is said to have taken the credit is the Homa Bay governor Cyprian Awiti who through his political connections and lobbying skills ensured that Moses Kajwang’ won by a landslide against the Maendeleo Party candidate Philip Okundi.
Initially, Awiti had not been keen in supporting Kajwang’ but it is said Raila called him and asked him to deliver the Homa Bay seat to ODM. Following the death of Otieno Kajwang’, Awiti is now Raila’s pointman in South Nyanza where rebellion has been brewing against Raila’s leadership.
Awiti had to counter the big names from the region who were during campaigns christened “Dangote team”. Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian, is the richest African and is planning to put up a Sh35 billion cement factory in Kenya. The Dangote team is the South Nyanza tycoons who bankrolled Okundi’s campaigns to the tune of millions.
It is said immediately Raila reached out to Awiti and after striking a deal and promising to deliver the Homa Bay seat, Awiti hit the road mobilising voters across the county.
Keen observers might have noticed that most of the ODM rallies were not well attended for fear of violence and it was on this basis that Awiti changed tact and embarked on a door-to-door campaign meeting opinion leaders, professionals, trade unionists, the clergy, women and youth groups.
Come the D-Day, Kajwang’ emerged victorious after he garnered 127,111 votes against Okundi’s 27,637. Voter turn out according to IEBC was at a lowly 49pc.
Although Okundi cried foul and is planning to go to court to challenge the results, it is no secret that the Homa Bay poll was a big headache to Raila and he had to marshal his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula to pitch tent in Homa Bay to ensure ODM carried the day.
Of great concern to Raila, apart from tycoons backing Okundi, were MPs from the region who rebelled and supported Kajwang’s opponents. Despite all these opposition from the tycoons and the MPs, Awiti still managed to deliver the seat to ODM.
Kajwang’ floored Okundi in constituencies where the MPs were openly against Kajwang’. Some of the constituencies where Awiti delivered to the shock of Okundi include Homa Bay Town, Ndhiwa, Karachuonyo, Kasipul, Rangwe, Mbita and Suba. It is important to note that even with the influence of Sammy Wakiaga and Mark Matunga, Awiti still managed to deliver majority of Suba votes to Kajwang’. 
As a result of the election results, now Awiti has consolidated power as Homa Bay governor and become a key member of the Raila kitchen cabinet and has now fitted perfectly well in the late Kajwang’s big political shoes.
With the vacancy in the Homa Bay county ODM leadership following the death of Kajwang’ and recently Monica Amollo, then acting chairperson,  Raila and ODM top brass has now tasked Awiti to identify and recommend names of the right people to take over the party’s leadership mantle at the county level. 
But as Awiti and his team celebrate the sweet victory, sources say ODM has now gotten the opportunity to crack the whip on the rebel MPs and politicians from the region.
The ODM leadership last week declared that its victory in the Homa Bay senate seat race was a warning shot to party rebels and asked them to quit before the next elections.
The rebels who campaigned under the banner of “My Senator My Choice” was headed by former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo and Karachuonyo MP James Rege.
Also put on notice are a number of perennial election losers from Homa Bay. In Kasipul, Okundi recruited the services of Charles Ong’ondo who lost to Oyugi Magwanga in 2013. Ong’ondo was being assisted by a political novice Odoyo Owidi who is said to have gained financially from the Okundi campaign funds. In Karachuonyo, there was Achilla Gogo who was assisted by John Abilla, a perennial loser from Kanyadhiang location.
The former Microsoft Regional director Mark Matunga was Okundi’s pointman in Mbita while George Oner was representing Rangwe as Okundi’s campaign co-coordinator. In Ndhiwa, Okundi had Augustino Neto and Erick Opiyo while in Kabondo Kasipul Silvance Osele was doing the co-ordination though secretly.
As Okundi plans to have Kajwang’s election declared null and void, it has now emerged that he should blame himself for his dismal performances contrary to the   expectation of many people.
Analysts say he performed dismally because of poorly managed campaign strategies. It is being whispered that Okundi  had allowed  his  campaign team to  be  infiltrated  by sweet talking political  conmen  from Nairobi who  surrounded  him 24 hours  without  giving  him  a chance  to reach out to the voters.
Trouble began immediately after it became publicly known that Okundi  had  the better  campaign  logistics  including millions of shillings, a group of political conmen operating  in Nairobi and whose rural homes are located in Homa Bay county retreated  back home and joined Okundi’s campaign team  mainly with the purpose of tapping  his campaign money.
The  bulk of Okundi’s money was therefore money squandered  by these political conmen immediately they  learnt  that his  campaign  was  well-oiled  with  cash donated to his campaign kitty by the Nairobi-based Luo financial heavyweights and business tycoons.
The  other  reasons   which  contributed  largely  to Okundi’s  downfall  was  the  propaganda  campaign  mounted   by the  Dho-Luo  FM  radio  stations  based in Kisumu and Nairobi which of late  have  become  the ODM  mouth  piece  in Luo Nyanza politics.
These are namely Radio  Ramogi  which  is  owned  by  the  Royal  Media  Services, Radio  Lake Victoria which is based in  Kisumu and owned by Osienala  an NGO, Radio Nam Lolwe owned  by the outspoken Gem MP Jakoyo  Midiwo and Radio Mayienga  which is subsidiary of KBC and  based in Nairobi.
Ramogi FM presenter Charles Odhiambo was was  heard asking  the  candidates  leading  questions arising from some of  issues which were intended to  discredit the candidature of  Okundi in the eyes of the voters. Odhiambo openly campaigned for Kajwang’ through a programme he hosts known as Ohigila Manyien which is a political interactive programme.