Inside Politics

Why Governor James Orengo is a man under siege

Sunday, August 13th, 2023 16:20 | By
Why Governor James Orengo is a man under siege
Siaya Governor James Orengo speaking during the burial of Patrick Obuong’ Wandare in Gem Constituency on Saturday, June 3, 2023. PHOTO/James Orengo(@orengo_james)Twitter

Almost a year, since he took office, Siaya Governor James Orengo has not known peace.

The county boss has been facing hurdles in his administration putting him on the edge of a political precipice.

His state-given security has also been withdrawn for involvement in anti-government street demonstrations. He now relies on private security.

When he came into office, last year in August, he immediately blew the whistle on graft in the county.

At the apex, was the alleged Sh406 million heist withdrawn between July to August 2022 in the run to the general election. He then invited the anti-corruption to come and investigate the alleged cases of graft by the former regime running into millions.

Before this was concluded Orengo manifested in public limelight as an anti-corruption crusader.

Kenya Kwanza team is not negotiating in good faith at all - Orengo
Siaya Governor James Orengo. Photo/James Orengo/Facebook

He opened the eyes of the public, who intensified their watch on the new administration of the county government of Siaya under his reign.

But no sooner, had the year even ended, and the alleged graft claims resolved, than he opened another Pandora's box.

This time taking on his Deputy William Oduol over alleged involvement in graft to the amusement of the public who thought that the duo were speaking in one language.

Orengo through the County Assembly henchmen, then initiated ouster of his deputy from office.

Oduol couldn't withstand his political weight and onslaught backed by the ODM party machinery.

He was impeached at the assembly. Traditionally as set by the law, Oduol had to go fight for his seat at the Senate-upper House.

Siaya MCAs to drag DG William Odul to court after failed impeachment
Embattled Siaya Deputy Governor William Oduol during his impeachment hearing on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. PHOTO/Courtesy

Orengo declared he would never return to the county leadership.

Oduol upon noticing the political danger ahead aligned himself to the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition elites to survive the political storm.

He shifted allegiance to President William Ruto Kenya Kwanza's outfit amid open rifts between him and Orengo.

Knowing very well that Kenya Kwanza had the numbers in the Senate, Oduol joined the fray with gusto for political survival.

He influenced his way into the Senate and beat Orengo, an astute lawyer in his own game.

The Senate ruled against the impeachment by the Siaya County assembly and reinstated him.

Now, it means whether Orengo likes Oduol or not, by law, he is still the bonafide Siaya County Deputy governor at least until 2027 general election.

Oduol notes that whether he is barred from office or not by law he is entitled to salary and privileges that are entitled to the office, the governor is out to deny him in vain.

"For me, I will continue to work for the people of Siaya, who bestowed on me the responsibility to lead them," he avers.

But it's unfortunate some do not even want to see me in the office," he claims.

"This is not good, politically, given that I represent the people, too as an elected leader," Oduol asserts.

Some goons have been reportedly trying to keep him out of office. But he is undeterred.

Three residents, Peter Odhiambo, Erick Onyango, and Elizabeth Akinyi, had petitioned the governor on Oduol at the High Court. But even this step did not bear fruit or deter the governor.

Oduol's clansmen, too, have repeatedly warned the governor to stop his perceived and alleged political mischiefs in vain.

The elders led by Oduols Kadenge clan chairman William Choka, termed the frustration meted on Oduol as uncalled for.

For them, such political behaviour only undermined the relationship between the two sides community.

An elder Paul Olando, argues that they voted for Orengo because of good ties with Oduol and that if he severs the relationship, he will regret it in the subsequent political polls.

Orengo speaks

But Orengo has maintained innocence and has continued to defy such political calls he terms as berating him in the wake of political titbits.

He claims that those who cannot toe the whims of the ODM party cannot be allowed to entangle the followers into political controversy for their mean end.

So, Oduol has since aligned himself with the anti-ODM brigade in Siaya, which is working with the ruling government.

The team is led by ICT CS Eliud Owalo and Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo and Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda. They are working with the ruling elites.

Owalo and Odhiambo are pushing for an alternative leadership to replace the autocracy being witnessed in the county political space.

Odhiambo claims they are the epitome of the new political dispensation in the region aimed at providing alternative solutions to the residents.

They are pushing for a myriad of development projects to be implemented in the area by the national government.

Oduol finds them a formidable team to pair with the new political realignment.

Right now they are working on hosting the president soon, in the area.

Odhiambo claims he has no regrets working with the ruling coalition for the common benefit of all.

Ochanda, on his part, says he will side with the state where right and ODM, too, where due but he will not support a wrong for political expediency.

"In a democracy, people must be allowed to exercise their free will and freedom of choice reigns supreme," Ochanda says.

Oduol's tiffs with Orengo aside, the civil rights movement groups in the county also have issues with the governor.

The right groups are claiming the governor has not hired chief officers a year, since he came into power.

They say this is wrong. According to Chris Owala of the Siaya County civil society network, the delay is affecting service delivery in the County.

"It shows the governor is not going to be productive and efficient in service delivery which is key since he is lacking the requisite human resource," he claims.

Owala who is the Executive Director of Community Initiative Action Group (CIAG-Kenya), called for leadership accountable to exercise of power in the aggregate interest of the public.

Right activists, Vincent Obondo and Hilary Omondi told the governor to listen to the dissenting voices of the Siaya people.

They want the governor to hire new chief officers, reduce political toxicity and concrete efforts in delivering the promises he made to the people of Siaya. He should stop political bullying of those with philosophies opposed to his to promote healthy and equitable political justice in the county.

Owala said the jobs were advertised by the Siaya County public service board and more than 100 applied and were shortlisted but not recruited yet.

The board's CEO Wilfred Nyagudi implored them to be patient as they resolve the issues within the precinct of the law and stop being bipartisan.

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