By Odhiambo Meshack
The Migori Senate campaigns are already underway hardly a week after the burial of the immediate former Senator Ben Oluoch Okelo.
The Orange Democratic Movement, the most dominant party in that region has made it clear that there will not be party primaries on the Migori Senate.
While ruling out democratic nominations for its candidate, the ODM party, never bothered to explain to the voters why this decision was reached.
However, with its despotic declaration, the party only managed to anger masses and provoke wide resentment over a very poorly kept secret: that the party establishment had a preferred candidate for the seat and that it did not matter who the choice of the majority of Migori people would want.
By invoking its very undemocratic and dictatorial party constitutional law that gives its National Executive Committee Board (NEC) a leeway to handpick a candidate, the ODM are showing the people of Migori utmost contempt.
Why name your party “democratic” if you cannot practice that democracy?
It can clearly be seen that ODM’s preferred candidate is the unsuccessful Migori County gubernatorial aspirant Ochilo Ayako. He who abandoned the party at its hour of need.
Ayako has in the space of a week declined a state appointment and withdrawn his election petition against Governor Obado, an indication that he is preparing to enter the Senate in a region where the ODM ticket usually makes the unelectable become electable.
The idea that a group of men can sit in Nairobi to make a authoritarian decision dictating to hundreds of thousands of people in Migori will be rejected in totality and greatly embarrass the ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga.
In fact, going by informationon the ground, Ayako who caused the ODM problems in Aug 2018 polls, is likely to face a protest vote with disenchanted candidates planning to coalesce around one of their own against Ayako.
ODM and Raila must practice what they preach. Why accuse Uhuru Kenyatta of rigging election when allowing free choice within ODM itself is a problem?
The development is reminiscent of the Homa Bay senate by-election in Raila nearly imposed himself on the people of Homa Bay before reason prevailed.
Even then, instead of conducting democratic primaries, Raila imposed a political upstart Moses Kajwang who was a brother of the late Otieno Kajwang’s brother was elected after a direct nomination award that bitterly divided the county of Homa Bay after attempts to conduct a collegiate exercise flopped. The by-election required extra ordinary effort to win.
In Migori, Ochilo Ayako is certainly not the most suitable candidate for ODM. The most popular candidate for ODM can only be determined at the primaries. Not in a small boardroom at Orange House.
The dwindling fortunes of the ODM in County Assemblies and within the National Assembly can be attributed to the undemocratic culture of awarding direct nominations to unpopular candidates.
Party honchos at Orange House have been known to auction tickets to the highest bidder with the Suna East MP Junet Mohammed leveraging on his proximity to the Party Leader to singularly hand nominations to his friends, concubines and relatives in Migori and other county assemblies around the country.
If Raila Odinga wishes to maintain respect from the masses, he must as party leader allow the same masses to freely exercise their basic rights and give him the candidate of their popular choice.
The alternative is to be prepared to see more and more independent candidates getting elected in perceived party strongholds.