Migori Governor Okoth Obado is a man on a mission to weather the political storm and succeed where others failed before in upsetting the political status quo in Nyanza- the Odingaism.
Obado, the former High school teacher who first made a stab in Kenya’s politics in 2013 and succeeded proved to opposition chief Raila Odinga and his Orange party brigade that he was not a push over.
He won the Migori gubernatorial seat in 2013 on People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket after the Orange party conducted what he termed as sham nominations.
In his first two years in office, Obado battled a battery of lawyers to fight off an election petition by his nemesis Prof Edward Oyugi.
Oyugi’s petition alleged misconduct by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) including bribery, falsification of electoral materials, and forgery of signatures and public announcement of conflicting results.
Obado won the case and later switched off his political allegiance to Raila and was welcomed back to ODM.
In 2017, in the run up to the polls, Obado was dancing the Orange tunes in a bid to recapture his gubernatorial seat but was categorical in telling off some ODM mandarins who were planning to brand him a Jubilee mole.
“I don’t support any other party or alliance other than ODM and NASA. Let me make it clear that I don’t have any issue with ODM party and its leadership. This is why I have publicly said that I am in the Orange party. But I should not be undermined and mistreated because of other interests,” Obado fired back then.
Political analyst and High Court Advocate Martin Oloo argued that ODM is helpless and clueless when it comes to dealing with the Migori County chief.
“When ODM meets with fire from Obado, they freeze. Theirs is the case of not able to walk the talk when it comes to compliance. ODM is absolutely helpless and clueless,” said Oloo.
He went on: “Why would they have a problem with Obado when they have joined up with Jubilee, while Obado defies them?”
Matiko Bohoko, a political analyst from Migori County argues that ODM has been helpless in dealing with Obado because they are caught in catch 22 situation.
According to Bohoko, if ODM succeeds in impeaching Obado, then the beneficiary will be his Deputy Nelson Mahanga who hails from the smaller Kuria community and such a punishment will not serve its purpose.
Obado picked Mahanga in 2013 General Election to slant the political balance, coming from a minority Kuria community, who demanded a share of the county slots.
“If ODM succeeds in impeaching Obado, the people who will benefit are the Kuria people. In any case, whoever Obado supports for the governorship position whether now or in 2022 will easily win. This has rattled the ODM brigade so nobody would want to go that route,” said Bohoko.
Bohoko further argued that Raila’s influence in the region is fast wading and his exit will leave a vacuum that Obado sees he can fill.
“Raila’s political popularity is fast fading and people are bound to take advantage of such a situation. Raila’s political life is purely hanging by the BBI thread. If BBI does not go through, Raila will be finished politically. Obado is seeking to fill that vacuum in the event of BBI failure,” said Bohoko.
Obado has walked a tightrope to the peak of his career from being an accounting teacher in a mission school to cane farming politics and then to first governor of Migori.
Obado grown up as a young man surrounded by sugarcane plantations and when an opportunity came, he dropped the chalk and convinced cane farmers that he would champion their cause in pursuit of good returns from the sugar they were planting.
They handed him the seat of a director at the now defunct Kenya Sugar Board (KSB), where he expanded his networks and started to mint millions which fortified his strength.
At the time he vied for the KSB Chairmanship, William Ruto now Deputy President was the Agriculture Cabinet Minister who had trained his guns on his boss Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
In the chairmanship, Ruto backed Obado while Raila threw his weight behind former MP Saulo Busolo, in a duel that Obado won.
In 2015, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) included Obado in a list of shame over impropriety concerning Sh600million through an alleged flawed tender process. He successfully fought off the claims.
In September 2018, Obado was accused in the murder of a young college student, Sharon Otieno.
And in the same month, the Migori’s supremo was on the spot again after it emerged that detectives were investigating what they believed to be suspicious transfers of county funds to his children abroad, allegations which he denied.
On February 8, during a party meeting, Raila kicked Obado out of the podium after he allegedly arrived late to a meeting meant to reinforce support for BBI.
In April this year, some ODM officials in Migori commenced processes of kicking out Obado from the party’s list of registered members.
The party’s branch secretary Joseph Olala and Chairperson Phillip Makabong’o, the officials said that Obado’s announcement that he has switched off to PDP while within ODM contravenes political parties’ laws.
In 2020, Migori ODM office had recommended the removal of the governor from office over a series of corruption allegations.
Yesterday, Makabong’o clarified that the party had not yet shelved the process of kicking him out.
“The process of removing Obado from the register is still ongoing. We have only been disadvantaged by the COVID-19 spikes that was in the country. You need the National Governing Council (NGC) to ratify such a decision,” said Makabong’o.
He further charged that the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) is aware of the matter and once a meeting is convened, his fate will be sealed.
“For NGC to sit, you need at least 10 officials from each County. Convening such a meeting during this COVID-19 period has been a challenge. We expect that we shall be done by August,” he added.
Obado has been under fire from the county and national assembly legislators over his decision to rejoin the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
On Friday last week, Obado dared police to escort him before a senate committee investigating the audit queries raised in his administration after he failed to appear before the committee.