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From class to murky politics

Seth Onyango @SethManex

The developments surrounding Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s current woes and his eventual arraignment over the murder of university student Sharon Otieno sounds more of fiction than real.

The tragedy, which has captured public interest, draws textual instances with Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not to Blame,  a play adapted from the Greek classic Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

The play perpetuates a theory that man is to blame for his outcome, whether tragic or comic.

“The fate of an individual is occasionally altered by chance, but humans will invariably lose when it attempts to challenge the “forces of necessity,” an excerpts of Oedipus Rex reads in part. For Obado, a series of events seemed to have conspired against him.

His rise to the political apex was rather swift and spectacular, though without controversy.

The governor is a trained teacher by profession, with a Bachelor of Education (Arts) from Kenyatta University and a Master’s degree in Strategic Management from the same institution.

He taught at Taranganya Boys High School in Kuria and later at Rapogi Boys High School before he ventured into sugar politics in the region. At one time, it is said Obado was a taxi driver,  struggling to make ends meet.

Becoming an outspoken defender of farmers’ welfare, Obado was appointed the manager at Kenya Sugar Board (KSB). His tenure at the agency was critical in building his profile which helped thrust him into the Migori gubernatorial race in 2013. He won in a tight race against ODM candidate Edward Oyugi.

Obado soldiered on against an onslaught from ODM Members of County Assembly and party officials who tried to impeach him at every available opportunity after the election.

In 2017 elections, he ditched Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for ODM and won with an overwhelming majority to retain his seat.

During last year’s election, Obado faced one of his most formidable opponents, former Energy minister Ochillo Ayacko, who gave him a run for his money in a campaign marred by violence that saw the two summoned to Nairobi by the ODM disciplinary committee.

A few weeks to the elections, violence broke out at Migori’s Posta grounds, leaving many people injured after supporters of rival candidates clashed.

Among those injured were bodyguards of senior ODM leaders. Ayacko and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed blamed Obado for the violence, but the governor denied any involvement.

The party’s disciplinary committee fined Obado Sh2 million for the violence, saying it had established that it was his supporters who stormed the meeting. Despite the shaky relationship with ODM leadership, a determined Obado went ahead to win the chaotic party primaries, forcing Ayacko to decamp and contest against him as an independent candidate.  Ayacko lost to Obado in the main election, filed a petition in High Court and lost that too. He went to the Court of Appeal, which threw out the case.

Obado has once again broken ranks with ODM after he rejected the direct nomination of Ayacko as the party’s candidate for the Migori Senate by-election slated for next month. This has put him at loggerheads with his party chiefs, including Raila Odinga.

It was after he joined politics that controversies seemed to follow the father of three.

At the height of electioneering period last year, Obado dominated headlines with claims of violent confrontations with his opponents as well graft allegations during his tenure.

He gained the infamous “no-nonsense” politician tag when allegedly organised a group of youths to disrupt an ODM function that saw leaders, including Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o scamper for safety.

For now, Obado is fighting to clear his name after he was linked to the murder of his seven-month pregnant girlfriend.

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