Baraka Karama and George Odiwuor @PeopleDailyKe
The Migori senator seat by-election can be compared to the biblical battle between David and Goliath. The political novice Eddy Oketch (of the Federal Party of Kenya) put on a spirited fight against political giant Ochillo Ayacko of the dominant ODM party.
Ayacko, who had earlier contested against Governor Okoth Obado as an independent candidate in last year’s election, clinched the seat after garnering 85,893 votes against Oketch’s 60,555 in the by-election that recorded a 38.92 per cent voter turnout.
Whereas Ayacko had the support of top ODM leaders, including party leader Raila Odinga, Oketch single-handedly crisscrossed the county to woo voters. Raila led a two-day vigorous campaign for Ayacko in the county.
Oketch, who is a first-timer in politics enjoyed support of youths while Ayacko, a former minister and MP, had the support of the older generation and Raila’s die-hard supporters.
Political analysts have said the 25,338 margin was a great win for Oketch. “He has lost the battle but what would have happened in the event that Raila did not visit the region to campaign?”posed Prof Henry Otieno from Maseno, adding that Ayacko should attribute his win to Raila’s visit.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, however, disagreed with Otieno, saying Ayacko was more popular and his victory was not accidental.
Rongo MP Paul Abuor and his Nyando counterpart Jared Okello claimed Oketch was a political puppet of Raila’s rival.
However, speaking after conceding defeat, Oketch dismissed the assertions, saying he wanted to make a political statement on behalf of the youth in the county. “I think the votes we got against my opponent are a clear indication that the youth have a chance in this county and we will take over the mantle very soon,” he said.
Ayacko’s direct nomination for the seat caused a rift among county leaders with his political nemesis Obado leading the onslaught in opposing the move.
Before he was arrested in connection with the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Atieno, Obado had vowed to teach ODM a lesson by supporting a rival candidate.
Ayacko yesterday said he would fight Obado, who has been accused of corruption, and vowed to ensure all funds in foreign accounts owned by the governor and his family are returned.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had frozen Obado’s foreign accounts and those of his relatives.