Imran wins in a not-so-ODM process

Monday, September 9th, 2019 00:00 |
ODM Party nominee Imran Okoth addresses journalists in Kibra, Nairobi, on Saturday after winning the ODM party nominations for the constituency by-election. Photo/PD/David Ndolo

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party yesterday confirmed Bernard Imran Okoth as its candidate for the Kibra constituency by-election following a relatively calm and fairly well-organised ballot nomination on Saturday.  

Absent were the stone-throwing, chairs-tossing and fist-flying theatrics that have previously characterised the Raila Odinga-led party. 

So smooth was the exercise that some joked on social media that the Orange party was on the verge of losing its identity for conducting such “boring elections”:

“ODM is losing its culture and we are not taking it lightly. How can they conduct such peaceful elections – no tear gas, no breaking of seats and tables and no ‘Men in Black’?” read one post that went viral. 

Owing to the high political stakes, following the shambolic showing in Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections seven months earlier and the entry of the ruling party Jubilee in the November contest, the People Daily has learnt that the ODM party leader gave express and stern directions against the bungling of Kibra poll.  

 Courtesy of the firm instructions, the party secretariat opted to engage and work closely with all the contestants, for purposes of keeping them involved, informed and getting their input. 

 “We moved all along with the contestants, right from day one when the party leader paraded them to Kibra residents for introduction on Thursday – two days ahead of the poll.

I think the situation was calmer this time around because they were involved at every stage in the entire electoral process,” said ODM secretary general, Edwin Sifuna. 

 Conceding that the party suffers from a perception of presiding over chaotic polls, Sifuna observed that this time round, the party invested adequate time raising the level of confidence among the voters by carrying out an open and fair nomination process without playing any cards under the table.

Dirty games 

“Our supporters have never been the problem. The biggest problem has been the technical challenges on our part as office bearers, coupled with the push and dirty games from politicians, especially the contestants,” he said. 

And this time round there was no discord or fallout following Saturday’s ballot exercise. Although the Orange party’s offices were open the whole day on Sunday to receive possible petitions arising from the party primaries, by 5:00pm, the ODM’s tribunal had not received any single petition. 

 Instead, some of Okoth’s challengers congratulated him for the win and promised to support his bid to succeed his late brother, Ken Okoth, as Kibra MP.

ODM’s director of Youth Affairs Benson Musungu is among those who conceded defeat and gave a thumbs up to his party “for conducting peaceful elections which proved the naysayers wrong.” 

 “My campaign message was “Boresha Kazi Njema” and I stand with that belief to congratulate Bernard Okoth for the victory yesterday (Saturday).

I believe he will “Boresha Kazi Njema” that the Late Hon Ken Okoth started,” said the politician in a rare show of harmony. 

Highly competitive

 ODM’s secretary for political affairs, Opiyo Wandayi, attributed the party’s chaotic primaries to ODM’s popularity and highly competitive nature.

“ODM remains the dominant party in some parts across this country, meaning securing the party’s ticket is a do-or-die affair.” 

 According to Sifuna, Saturday’s experience and earlier ones from the Ugenya and Embakasi Soth by-elections remain fruitful lessons for the Orange party to learn from. “Even beyond the Saturday primaries, we hope to pick more lessons as we move along.” 

Okoth is now expected to face off with Jubilee’s ex-international football star MacDonald Mariga, Eliud Owalo of Amani National Congress, Ford Kenya’s Khamisi Butichi and Editar Achieng of Ukweli Party.

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