Though loved and hated in equal measure, ODM leader Raila Odinga is still the undisputed grandmaster in Luo Nyanza political chessboard. Raila has since 1997 after he decamped from Ford-K and formed the National Development Party, controlled Luo politics like a bandmaster in an orchestra with very little effort.
Raila surprised many people when he quit Ford-K and resigned as the Langata MP and then recaptured his seat on NDP ticket. The ODM leader left Ford-K after internal feuds pitting him against former vice president Kijana Wamalwa revolving around party succession which later went to court. The political scuffle at Thika Municipal Stadium in the 1990s between supporters of the two is still in the minds of many Kenyans. He asserted his stranglehold in Luo Nyanza politics by ensuring that those who did not toe his line fell by the wayside. Being branded anti-Raila has over the years cost many MPs in Luoland their seats. During the 1997 elections, a number of MPs namely, Justus Ogeka (Muhoroni), Otieno Karan (Nyando), Gerald Kopiyo (Kasipul-Kabondo), Achieng Oneko (Rarieda) Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu Rural) among others, could not make it due to their perceived alignment to then Ford-K chairman Kijana Wamalwa.
Most of them lost their seats save for James Orengo, who contested on a Ford-K ticket and who went against the odds to beat James Nyamodi of NDP in Ugenya. Orengo however, paid the ultimate price for his earlier political mischief by losing the 2002 polls to his in-law, the late Archbishop Stephen Ondiek who cruised through on a Narc via LDP ticket. That year, Orengo was running for president through SDP and made a joke of himself.
Joe Donde of Ford-K won the Gem seat by default since Obare Asiko of NDP had been time-barred during party primaries. Gem constituents opted to vote for Donde in order to lock out Grace Ogot, who was poised to clinch the seat on a Kanu ticket following the NDP hitch. It was earlier a clean sweep during the 1992 multiparty elections as Ford-K took advantage of the euphoria to win all seats in Luoland when Ford-K’s Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was the party presidential candidate, with the so-called Young Turks in tow. Other MPs namely Ochola Ogur (Nyatike) and Tom Obondo (Ndhiwa), were subsequently locked out after defecting to Kanu after Ford-K won the subsequent by-elections. Almost six cabinet ministers were shown the door during the 1992 polls.
Some of them included Dalmas Otieno (Rongo), Onyango Midika (Muhoroni), and late Wilson Ndolo Ayah (Kisumu Rural), who died at 84, among others. ODM suffered a major blow in Ugenya constituency by-election where its candidate Christopher Karan was handed a heavy defeat by the former holder of the position namely Dave Ochieng. Ochieng vied for the seat during the 2017 general election, and lost but appealed against the outcome of the results. He went to court where the results were annulled. The election court cited numerous irregularities in the polls and concurred with the petitioner who had vied on an MDG party. Karan’s humiliating loss to Ochieng is now being viewed by many observers as a sign of things to come during the 2022 elections where other independent candidates are expected to give ODM a run for its money. Ochieng’s win was not surprising, since ODM lost other seats in the last polls. For instance, Olago Aluoch of Ford-K defeated John Awiti the preferred ODM choice to retain his Kisumu West seat.
Ahmed Shabir defeated Nicholas Oricho also of ODM to secure the Kisumu East seat. Aluoch was defeating an ODM party candidate for the second time having defeated Rosa Buyu of ODM during the 2013 general election. Migori governor Okoth Obado won the 2013 gubernatorial elections on another party ticket after he felt short-changed during the ODM primaries. The party had given its ticket to Edward Oyugi whom Obado defeated hands down. Okongo later contested the outcome of the polls. At the 2017 polls, Obado overturned tables by beating ODM’s Ochilo Ayacko for the party ticket amid intense lobbying. In the same year, Onyango K’oyoo, won the Muhoroni constituency seat on a PDP party ticket while, Omondi Mulwan, also won the Alego Usonga seat on other tickets. ODM reclaimed the seat in 2017 after Sam Atandi, cruised through using the ODM ticket. Several MPs went to the last polls while branded as party rebels or moles.
They included Silvance Osele (Kabondo-Kasipul), Agostino Neto (Ndiwa), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Ken Obura (Kisumu Central) and Gladys Wanga(Homa Bay women representative). The branding of a number of MPs appeared to take a toll on some of them since they never made it to the ballot box. Ken Obura was locked out alongside Neto and Ochieng together with Osele. Shabir was considered a sympathizer of former Kisumu Governor, Jack Ranguma, and later opted to vie as an independent candidate and carried the day against Oricho. Osele also paid dearly since the party favoured Eva Obara, who later won the seat on an ODM ticket. It was the same song for former Kasipul MP, Oyugi Magwanga, who was considered a mole while contesting against incumbent Cyprian Awiti. His open petition against the poll outcome even went a long way in exposing him further.
In Migori, during the 2013 poll, Jared K’opiyo won the Awendo seat on a Ford-K party ticket after being locked out of ODM primaries just like K’oyoo and Aluoch. The Ugenya loss left ODM bruised and pundits believe that it is a pointer to what might occur during the 2022 elections. Aluoch has twice won the seat on the Ford-K party ticket. Last year, Aluoch assured his constituents that he will first consult before he guns for a higher office come the next general elections. Aluoch who was responding to calls from his supporters while addressing them at Kogony chief’s camp said it was still too early to make that kind of a critical decision. The MP who retained his seat on a Ford-K ticket during the last polls challenged those who are ready to fit in his shoes when he moves to a higher office when the right time comes, to come out Aluoch said many of his constituents shy away from fitting in his shoes either due to the high standards he has set or are just simply shy.