Battle of wits as O’Mogeni picked Senate team chair
The battle for control of Senate committees continued on Wednesday with a faction allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga on one hand, squaring it out with a group associated with Deputy President William Ruto on the other.
During the elections to elect the chairperson of the Committee on Delegated Legislation, the incumbent West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio (Kanu) was defeated by a newcomer to the committee, Nyamira Senator Okong’o O’Mogeni (ODM).
O’Mogeni garnered five votes against Poghisio’s four, with the vice chairman position going to Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka (CCU), who won the seat with five votes against nominated Senator Farhiya Ali’s (Jubilee) four votes.
Although Kabaka and O’Mogeni belong to the Opposition coalition Nasa, they are perceived to be moderates, as they have not expressly identified with pro-Ruto Tanga Tanga faction or the pro-handshake camp of Kieleweke.
The election of Nyamira Senator to chair the influential House committee now dashes the hope of Senate Leader of Minority James Orengo (Siaya) who had threatened to withdraw Nasa members in the watchdog committee of County Public and Investment Committee (CPAIC), after Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina was elected chair against the wishes of ODM.
Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri was the party’s choice for the chairman position, but lost to Ole Kina.
Ole Kina can now sit comfortable as he will not be stripped of his new position as Senator O’Mogeni comes from the same region as Ongeri who was being fronted by ODM.
Sources, who spoke in confidence, told the People Daily that Ruto’s allies in the Senate have been planning to upset the Uhuru-Raila-Gideon Moi alliance which has been dominant in the House since the March 9, 2018 Handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila.
In both House committee elections, there was a dominant figure that was allegedly under firm instructions from Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen to trouble the Uhuru-Raila team—Nominated Senator Milicent Omanga.
Omanga, unlike other members in the CPAIC, is also a member of the Committee on Delegated Legislation.
During CPAIC elections, Omanga proposed Kina as chair, to the annoyance of her kinsman Ongeri, who lost the seat.
Omanga seems to have returned “favour” to her Kisii community by seconding the candidature of O’Mogeni, who went on to win the seat by Omanga’s vote.
An impeccable source privy to the goings-on revealed that Raila had on Tuesday and yesterday reached out to party members to push for the election of Gideon Moi’s Kanu candidate Poghisio and nominated Senator Farhiya Ali, a key member of the Kieleweke team.
Senators Victor Prengei (Nominated), Phillip Mpaayei (Kajiado), Omanga (Nominated) are members of Jubilee Party alongside Poghisio and Farhiya.
Senators Judith Pareno (Nominated), Kabaka (Machakos), Mohammed Faki (Mombasa) and O’Mogeni are members of Nasa.
Murkomen, who is also Elgeyo Marakwet senator, has been credited with the changes in the House leadership as he was working with Tanga Tanga members in the committees to support different candidates, who ultimately won against the wishes of their parties.
“Congratulations Senators Okong’o O’Mogeni and Boniface Kabaka on your election as chair and vice-chair of the Committee on Delegated Legislation.
You have my full support. Please Senator Orengo and Mutula don’t de-whip them,” Murkomen wrote on Twitter.
However, majority of the members who spoke in confidence said the Nyamira Senator was picked because he is independent-minded and not a sycophant.
“His (O’Mogeni’s) election was also deliberate because it substitutes for the defeat that Senator Ongeri faced in the hands of Tanga Tanga on Monday. This way the people of South Nyanza still win,” said one source.
“Murkomen has been at the heart of the upsets as he seeks to protect Deputy President William Ruto’s numerical advantage and influence in the Senate,“ the source said.