August 3, 2015
BY ODOYO OWIDI
ODM recently announced its grassroot party elections to be carried out in a staggered manner from August 1, starting with a cluster of counties including Migori, Wajir, Kajiado, Kilifi, Marsabit and Vihiga. However, after Obama left the country, the party announced that the elections have been postponed because civic education could not be carried out in the counties dominated by Muslims during Ramadhan. Never mind that there was no formal voter education carried out in Migori, Kajiado and Vihiga either.
Nevertheless, before the postponement, ODM chairman John Mbadi announced that non-ODM loyalists from Migori and their supporters will not be allowed to contest any party seat at any level. He singled out Governor Okoth Obado and Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno. In other words, Mbadi has expelled these politicians and their supporters from the party through the backdoor. The same door through which Mbadi became the chairman at a Naivasha meeting that was subsequently rubber-stamped at Bomas by a similarly irregular list of delegates.
It is still fresh in our memory how the party master-minded the abortion of its own elections at Kasarani and later used the same method in a by-election nomination in Homa Bay. After these two entertaining fiascos, there was apology from no less than the party leader. Recently, at the memorial service for his mother-in-law in Migori county, party leader Raila Odinga praised Obado, saying he is an ODM member who only defected after the shambolic nominations.
Suddenly Mbadi has conveniently contradicted his boss. Mbadi is not known to even be able to chase a fly off the coat of Raila, and with this in mind, it can only be said Obado may have been short-changed. The praise must have been informed by a momentary good gesture. Maybe he had generously helped in organising the function that was in his county. Should that be the case, I would conclude that in matters ODM, Obado is a slow learner.
It is important that the party leadership consisting of Mbadi and director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi are reminded that a vote, like money, retains its value irrespective of where it has come from. A vote never loses its value because it is from a Jubilee supporter. Equally important, these principal sycophants must know that these people they are locking out of the party have supporters whose votes ‘Baba’ will need.
Obado beat ODM candidate Akong’o Oyugi fair and square in the 2013 elections, despite Baba’s spirited campaigns in Migori, at a time when he should have been looking for presidential votes outside Luoland! Dalmas Otieno won for Kanu 10,000 plus votes in Rongo constituency at a time when Kanu had the lowest support in Luo Nyanza.
With this in mind, I conclude that these party mandarins have no intention of helping Raila win the presidency at all. All they want is to get themselves re-elected through the only sure method they know—maximum sycophancy. ODM has become a private club of friends and relatives masquerading as a political party just to keep a community hoping for the ultimate prize—the Presidency.
ODM would rather have the Luo remain loyal than win the presidency. They would rather chase away votes than lose the grip they have on this hapless community. Most of the party’s actions are not meant to win votes for the party’s candidate but rather to keep the Luo electorate believing in the impossible cause of Raila winning the presidency in 2017.
Why would a serious party use a strategy that had been previously used by their opponent? Why is this ODM strategy of ‘register for IDs, get voters cards and elect Baba’ only hyped in Luo Nyanza, a community with a possible maximum of three million votes out of a possible maximum of 22 million votes countrywide? Why would a party wanting to win an election still want to exclude potential voters?
We all know that the government is the greatest employer and business partner anywhere in the world yet ODM is a party that believes anyone who seeks anything from the government is a ‘mole’. A community that does not do business within the government nor get government employment is bound to lag behind in development and wealth creation and may be unable to wage any meaningful future political wars.
Unless the primary aim of ODM is to ensure that nobody else will be able to wage a presidential campaign from Luoland after Raila. ODM must be told that’s its unwritten but well enforced policy of ‘keep off the government of the day’ is retrogressive and must be rejected by all well-meaning members. It only serves the purpose of making the people difficult to govern but easy to enslave.
Odoyo Owidi is chairman of Luoland Dialogue Initiative.