Inside Politics

Fury in ODM over direct nomination, secret polls

Monday, April 4th, 2022 06:00 | By
ODM leader Raila Odinga with Mombasa Governor Hassan John during a recent political rally in Mombasa.. PHOTO/File

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is facing a backlash for conducting secret opinion polls it uses using to issue direct tickets to candidates found more popular than others in its strongholds. 

The party has been exerting pressure on candidates who have performed poorly in the polls to drop their bids in favour of those who emerged top, as it aims to avoid violent nominations that have characterised its primaries in the past.

The outfit led by Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga postponed primaries scheduled for last Friday in Nakuru and those for Mombasa and Kilifi this week. Party National Elections Board chairperson Catherine Mumma said they were talking to the aspirants in the coastal counties to support one candidate. 

“The National Elections Board will communicate the outcome of the consultations and consensus-building and advice on the next steps. We urge our members to exercise patience in the meantime,” said Mumma. 

Questions have, however, emerged on the authenticity of the polls with those scoring lesser indexes dismissing them and demanding that primaries be done. 

Displeasure within the Raila-led party escalated on Sunday as Mombasa governor aspirant Suleiman Shahbal asked the leader to walk the democracy talk he champions by ensuring the party holds free and fair nominations. 

The race to pick the ODM flagbearer in the Mombasa gubernatorial race has been narrowed down to two: Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and businessman Suleiman Shahbal. The Shahbal camp is reading malice with ODM’s cancellation of the primaries, saying they were being pressured to back Nassir after opinion polls sponsored by the party showed he was the most popular.

Hand-picking of leaders

 “When Raila held my hand and that of my opponents at Tononoka grounds and promised that the party would be democratic, then he should stick to that. But as we stand, we will not accept hand-picking of leaders for the people in Mombasa,” said Shahbal who vied for the seat on Jubilee in 2017 but lost to outgoing Governor Hassan Joho. He has since defected to ODM. 

He wants Odinga to personally intervene and reject the handpicking of leaders in the county, saying the move risks weakening ODM and benefitting opponents in the United Democratic Alliance. 

“Raila is being misadvised by his people. If ODM continues in this manner, we are going to lose big, Kwale is gone, Kilifi is gone and we are on the verge of losing Mombasa,” said Shahbal in reference to opponents in Kenya Kwanza Coalition. 

In Kilifi, the governor’s race has attracted former Lands Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro, Kilifi Speaker Jimmy Kahindi and deputy governor Gideon Saburi for the party’s candidate.

In Kwale, ODM members are getting ready for the nominations today. 

Speaking to People Daily, the Kwale ODM secretary general James Nyakiti said they have five candidates who will go through the party nominations for Msambweni parliamentary seat. 

“We have five candidates who will battle it out for the party ticket. As ODM officials, we wish them all the best in the primaries as whoever emerges the victor will have the ticket,” Nyakiti said. 

The candidates are Sharlet Mariam, Charles Bilali, Hassan Mwakulonda, Shee Mahmoud and Bashiri Kilalo.  

Nyakiti also said that so far Msambweni is the only constituency that has party competitors, unlike the other three constituencies where there was only one candidate who was issued with a direct ticket. 

“In the other constituencies — that is Kinango, Lungalunga and Matuga — the ODM candidates had no party competitors, hence they were lucky to get direct nomination tickets,” he continued. 

Zulekha Hassan, Hassan Mwanyoha and Mrabu Chaka are the ODM MP aspirants for Kinango, Matuga and Lungalunga respectively who got the tickets. 

He added that even the ODM governorship, senate and women representative positions had no party competitors, hence the ones available had been given direct tickets to the ballot. 

“Hamadi Boga for governorship, Issa Boy for senatorial position and Fatuma Masito for woman representative are the ODM candidates who have no competitors too,” Nyakiti said. 

In Kisii, more 100 ODM aspirants have threatened to ditch the party if its leaders fail to rescind a decision to give a direct nomination ticket to County Woman Representative Janet Onge’ra to defend her seat.  The 103 leaders, who included hopefuls for parliamentary and Ward Representative seats, warned the party’s leaders against repeating the mistakes made in 2017 — where no MP was elected through the party in the county despite its popularity.

The party only got an MP in Pavel Oimeke, Bonchari constituency, who was elected during a mini-election in May last year following the death of legislator John Oroo Oyioka (Peoples Democratic Party). 

Kisii Assembly Deputy Speaker Davins Onuso, who is eyeing Bobasi seat, said there are no signs on the ground showing the party was prepared for the nominations slated for Thursday 7 this month, stressing that the aspirants have been left in the dark and were worried. 

“We have no party register or polling stations set aside for the exercise. Aspirants have not been briefed on what to do. If the party cannot put things in order, we will defect,” Onuso said during the aspirants meeting at a Kisii hotel on Friday. 

He lauded the party for giving tickets to Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka, vying for governor and senate seats through ODM respectively, stressing they have no competitors and deserved them.

 The Deputy’s Speaker noted that it was wrong for the party to give Ong’era a ticket without consulting her competitors, stressing that the party stands for democracy and should uphold it.

 “Five aspirants had put in papers for nominations. When a party gives one a ticket without consulting them, it soils democracy” Onuso said. 

Former Nyaribari Chache MP Chris Bichage, who is eyeing the area’s seat through ODM, accused some powerful individuals of planning to sabotage the party, emphasising that he had worked closely with Raila when they were in National Development Party (NDP) and would not watch as he was being misled.   

He implored Raila to rein in the people hell-bent on ruining the party. “It is a fact; Raila is my close friend. I urge him to allow the people of Kisii  to choose a Woman Representative candidate from the five who want to vie through ODM,” Bichage said.  

Betty Obiri, nominated MCA, noted Arati has revived the party and he should be mandated to lead the assembly, parliamentary and presidential campaigns in the area for ODM to win majority seats.

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