Humble demeanor but not shy to face his battles head-on
Governor Zachary Okoth Obado’s humble demeanor belies the political deftness with which he executes his schemes, when cornered.
From the façade, especially for a casual observer, Obado, the Seventh Day Adventist Church elder cannot hurt a fly.
It is such casual observations that led ODM party hawks to underrate the man from the populous Katieno clan in Kanyamkago, when he first sought the party ticket for the gubernatorial seat in 2012 against a staunch Raila Odinga ally, a global academic giant and second liberation icon Oyugi Akong’o.
Obado jumped ship after Akongo’s victory in party primaries, and contested on the then little-known People’s Democratic Party.
To many people in Migori, Akongo’s victory was a foregone conclusion. Little did people know that Obado banked heavily on his populous Kanyamkago bloc and his in-laws near Migori town, which ate into Akongo’s home turf of Suna.
While Akong’o relied on his liberation credentials and the party’s popularity, Obado traversed the entire county, and quietly sought the support of the rich friends he had during his Kenya Sugar Board KSB) reign. Obado’s slim victory was challenged in court, but he triumphed.
His recent retort against ODM top leaders, chairman John Mbadi and secretary-general Edwin Sifuna who have demanded that he quits or faces impeachment, is vintage Obado.
Drawing analogies that portrayed the ODM in not too flattering colours, Obado told Mbadi and Sifuna to wait for the court process to end before making any decision.
He said: “ Such are dictatorial traits in the party that I waso subjected to two years ago, during his trial in the High Court following the brutal murder of university student Sharon Otieno.
When in 2010, then Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei replaced Obado with Saulo Busolo in a Gazette Notice as KSB chairman over the controversial licensing of the Sh3 billion Butali Sugar Limited in Kakamega County, Obado did not hesitate to remove his gloves for a fight for survival.
The former secondary school principal can be defiant. It will be interesting to see how his impending impeachment motion moves.
But knowing the resources at his disposal, and that of his political friends, which has now put MCAs in a quandary – toe party line or support Obado – the public can prepare for a dramatic moment ahead.