Inside Politics

Why Ong’era ODM ticket could muddle Arati battle

Thursday, March 31st, 2022 00:00 | By
Kisii ODM governor aspirant Simba Arati addresses an Azimio La Umoja rally in the county recently. PHOTO/Robert Ochoro

Dagoretti North Member of Parliament Simba Arati might be forced to go back to the drawing board following strong signs the Orange party will hand a direct ticket to Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ong’era.

Arati, who is fighting for the Kisii governorship had preferred Dorice Aburi for the Woman Rep ticket in a clan-driven power-sharing line-up that draws along Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyonka for Senate and former Nyaribari Chache MP Robert Onyonka for governor.

The Dagoretti North lawmaker is said to have expressed displeasure at plans to hand the ticket to Ong’era during a meeting in Nairobi convened by Azimio La Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga and senior members of his think-tank.

 During the meeting, Onger’a, a along time Raila ally and ODM founding member, is said to have insisted that she was the best suited  for the ticket, arguing that Aburi was a Jubilee member.

Aburi unsuccessfully competed for the seat against Ong’era in the 2017 General Election.

“Ong’era fought off a campaign by the Arati axis that she pulls out of the contest. She insisted that she is ready to compete against Aburi in the election. She insisted that Arati was free to campaign for Aburi if given a Jubilee ticket under Azimio,” said a source privy to meeting.

Tight calendar

It, however, remains unclear on whether Aburi will switch camp to Jubilee given the tight election calendar deadlines, especially on party membership.

Arati’s fury may have stemmed from the fact that both he and Onger’a hail from the same Bobasi clan. 

Contesting a top seat in a county in which clannism plays a key role in the distribution of positions, Aburi’s candidature is a major carrot for other sub-groups in his election campaign.

A former ODM chief executive director, Ong’era, was nominated to the Senate in 2013 where she became Minority Whip before seeking her current seat in the 2017 polls.  

The Women Rep, a member of the axis that has been revolving around Governor James Ongwae and Ongeri, pulled out of the governorship race to seek re-election. 

Ongeri ditched ODM two weeks ago for the Democratic Action Party, accusing the Orange party leadership in the county of betraying him. But speaking to People Daily, Arati maintained he was still in the race for the seat under ODM.

“I have nothing against Ong’era running as an incumbent. But let her be subjected to competition like the other four candidates seeking the ODM ticket for the seat,” said Arati.

“My argument is that we cannot have two candidates for top seats from the same clan as it upsets an unwritten agreement that the positions be shared,” he added. 

Those seeking to unseat Ongera include former legislator Sally Otara.

Others are lawyer Maureen Moraa, radio journalist Aburi, who came second in the last elections, Bridgit Ombati, Norah Nyamwamu, former county Executive Peris Onsarigo, Evelyn Ogendo, Fontina Ngare, Doreen Bwari, Julie Nyanchama, Getrude Mogoi, Gladys Aunga, Risper Ndege, Rebecca Akemo and former Kenya National Union of Teachers official Lucy Machuki.

 “ODM is the most popular party in Gusii region. We have laid enough ground to ensure we win both the presidency and majority elective seats in the region,” said Ongera while pulling out of the governorship contest last month.

Best candidate

Kisii ODM chairman Kerosi Ondieki had assured aspirants that the party will conduct free, fair and transparent nominations to get the best candidates to compete with rivals to win the majority of the seats.

Ondieki  said Arati is the only one vying for the governor’s seat in the area after his rivals within the party defected to other outfits and asked supporters to rally behind him.  

“As of now it is Arati who is the ODM aspirant. We are waiting to see whether there are others who will join the race through the party,” Ondieki told People Daily yesterday.

 “The party will not conduct nominations for popular candidates in some areas. We will ensure other aspirants remain in the party and support the candidate to win the seat” Ondieki said, adding that after the elections, the party will support them.

Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi also ditched ODM and shifted to United Democratic Alliance  steered by Deputy President William Ruto.

Maangi, who has been  Ongwae deputy for 10 years is vying for the senator’s seat and has teamed up with Nyaribari Masaba lawmaker  Ezekiel Machogu, vying for the governor’s seat through UDA.

Machogu has picked lawyer Migosi Ogamba as his running mate.

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