Members of the Luhya community are piling pressure on ODM leader Raila Odinga to endorse their own to be the Orange Democratic Movement flagbearer in the race to replace fallen Ken Okoth as Kibra MP.
Their argument is that they have been receiving a raw deal in Nairobi politics, where Raila’s Luo community takes the lion’s share of the elective seats as well as those nominated to the county assembly and parliament yet it is Luhyas Raila counts on to make impact at presidential contest.
The Luhya community has more than 500,000 voters in Nairobi but have only two MPs, Westlands’ Tim Wanyonyi and George Aladwa, Makadara. They also have very few MCAs in the city.
With strong indications that the Jubilee Party will not field a candidate in the parliamentary race, the ODM candidate could be assured of victory in the by-election.
Kibra, which is divided into 13 villages, including Kianda, Soweto East, Gatwekera, Kisumu Ndogo, Lindi, Laini Saba, Siranga, Makina and Mashimoni, is predominantly occupied by the Luo, Nubian, Luhya, Kamba and Kikuyu.
Raila, the ODM leader represented Langata constituency for a period of 22 years as the region’s MP before it was split to create Kibra.
Already, the race to replace Okoth has begun as aspirants wait for the national assembly speaker Justin Muturi to issue writs declaring the parliamentary seat vacant to set the stage for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to organise a by-election.
Okoth’s family has revealed that the family wants Raila to endorse one of them as the next area representative.
Some youth from the constituency have been pushing to have Raila Junior to go for the seat as a springboard to active politics. Junior is however not known in the area like his late brother Fidel. Initially, Raila’s daughter Rosemary was gearing to run in 2017 but backed out of the race on health grounds. With her health now improving, it is eagerly being awaited which move she will take.
Elvis Oluoch, Okoth’s nephew, said the family was considering sending emissaries to the party leader to endorse Imran Okoth, the former MP’s brother. But Imran is at war with his family after he colluded with the late MP’S wife Monica Okoth to cremate the body. It is said the mother has cursed Imran who is also eyeing to inherit the white woman. Imran is also unpopupar with locals who interacted with him at the Kibera DC’s offices where he bossed those who went to apply for bursaries or Uwezo Fund. They say he is arrogant and not leader material as they wonder what he would have been if his brother had not become MP.
The family is said to be preferring Bobby Okoth.
“We want to appeal to Raila to see if he can give one of the family members that opportunity for the next three years. We have one Imran in mind. He was the personal assistant to Ken and was the one taking care of everything when Ken was sick,” Oluoch said.
Others eyeing the seat include Eliud Owalo who unsuccessfully challenged Okoth for the ODM nomination in the last election and Ketta Onyango as well as former Sarang’ombe MCA Pius K’Otieno.
There was also word that former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro is interested in the seat alongside Irshad Sumra who was defeated in Embakasi South early this year. Edwin Sifuna, the ODM secretary general Kibrans would however not have time for political nomads as they have for long been taken for a ride by outsiders, Raila included, who live away but purport to know the problems of the locals.
Kennedy Odede of Shofco is also said to be eyeing for the seat. Odede is a household name in the slum thanks to his NGO. Also in the race will be Stanley Livondo who gave Raila a run for his money in 2007 when he contested for the Lang’ata MP’s seat. Livondo then on PNU ticket garnered over 60,000 votes to Raila’s 74,000 votes.
Contrary to expectations, Raila might not have so much sway as seen in the 2013 poll when his own son Fidel lost the ODM nominations for the Langata seat. Langata constituency is the area left out when Kibra was hived off the original Langata. It comprises Karen proper and other middle class areas of Otiende and Southlands estates.
It is worth noting that Okoth was not Raila’s favourite in 2017 when Raila lined up Rosemary to take over. Tellingly, Raila did not visit Okoth in hospital where Okoth languished for years even as Raila found time to visit every sick person he knew and who had been in hospital for a week only. It was only when Okoth died that Raila said he was planning to visit him. This did not wash amongst Kenyans with veteran journalist Mohammed Warsama dismissing Raila on Whatsapp and telling Kenyans that Raila was lying. Raila’s name read from the back, Warsama wrote, reads a liar!