Migori Senate race brings to light key issues about polls
1 weeks ago, 15:38
Mr Ochillo Ayacko will formally become Migori County’s third senator since devolution began in 2013, capping an eventful campaign season that lasted 90 days.
That ODM won the election is not surprising even though newbie Eddy Oketch turned what had been dead-rubber poll into a contest.
Yet, like in every by-election, there were plenty of lessons, some which repeated themselves, or serve to warn about future political duels.
Yesterday, Mr Ayacko was celebrating all day, in contrast to last year in August when he fumed after losing the Migori governorship seat to Mr Okoth Obado. Mr Ayacko had lost in the ODM primaries, choosing to contest the seat as an independent candidate. The vote hunt became so violent the electoral commission had to call the two and warn them of possible disqualification.
Dr Ayacko seems to have learnt that no matter the popularity and good pitching, winning an election in some parts of Nyanza on a party other than ODM is more of an exception than a norm.
The scales fell from his eyes when, at the burial of former Senator Ben Okello he made peace with Mr Obado in a deal brokered by ODM leader Raila Odinga. Critics charged the handshake had been for cameras only as the two would renew rivalry. But it also marked a turning point as he retuned to the ODM fold, getting a direct ticket and winning an election for the first time in 10 years.
ODM campaigned for their man and Mr Odinga termed rivals as imposters, marketing his candidate as one who always stood by the party’s ideologies.
In the end, Mr Eddy Oketch, his rival, scored 60,555 votes against ODM’s 85,234 votes.
It is not every day Mr Odinga chooses to campaign for a candidate in by-elections unless there is a huge contest with another rival party. Take for example the by-election in Kajiado Central where ODM’s Memusi Kanchori won in 2015. Mr Odinga went there during and after campaigns to taunt Jubilee who were trying to wrest the seat from the party after the seat's holder Joseph Nkaissery was appointed Interior Cabinet Secretary.
But in Migori? It had been assumed ODM had little job there especially since the party’s troubling governor, Obado, who disagreed with Mr Ayacko's nomination, had been in detention.
In the end, Mr Odinga went round the county, holding massive rallies, dancing with the youth and taunting rivals. His man won.
Migori’s mini polls were initially seen as a walkover for ODM. Even Mr Odinga went as far as pacifying potential rivals who had lost out in the primaries: He met all of them and they had a gentleman’s agreement to support Mr Ayacko.
With rumours swirling that former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno could run on a rival party, he suddenly got nominated to be a commissioner in the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, a job he accepted, reducing competition for the Senate seat.
But then Mr Oketch reneged on the deal, choosing ...
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