In Summary
  • The odds were heavily stacked against Mr Ayacko after he was handpicked for the ODM ticket amid protests from Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
  • The county also has a huge non-Luo population that is gradually pulling away from the Odinga party.

  • But contrary to the notion that Mr Odinga’s popularity is waning, this poll has demonstrated that people can still listen to the ODM leader.

The narrow margin with which Orange Democratic Movement’s Ochillo Ayacko won the Migori County’s senate seat in Monday’s by-election has stirred heated debate as to whether party leader Raila Odinga’s grip on the region is waning.

Mr Ayacko’s competitor, 27-year-old Eddy Oketch, managed over 60,000 votes in a region where ODM enjoys near fervent political support. Mr Ayacko, a former minister, garnered 85,000 votes.

Mr Odinga’s critics are now writing his political obituary. While that may be extreme, questions abound on whether Mr Odinga is gradually losing the touch in his Nyanza region backyard, especially after his shock decision in March to embrace his hitherto political rival President Uhuru Kenyatta.

POLITICAL NOVICE

“I am just as shocked as most political observers in Kenya. And all I want to understand is how a young political novice can get an experienced hand like Baba (Raila) and his ODM brigade to sweat it out to deliver such a narrow victory,” Kericho County senator, Mr Aaron Cheruyiot, said. The sentiments of the outspoken Jubilee legislator best capture the lingering questions on the minds of many.

National Assembly Minority Leader Junnet Muhamed, who spearheaded the former minister’s campaigns, concedes that the battle was not a walk in the park, but insists winning was all that mattered “not the margin.”

A local politician, Mr Tom Alila, said ODM was on the verge of facing a major political humiliation until the campaigning teams came to terms with the magnitude of the threat and requested Mr Odinga’s help at the eleventh hour.

He said the odds were heavily stacked against Mr Ayacko after he was handpicked for the ODM ticket amid protests from Migori Governor Okoth Obado who is Ayacko’s political nemesis. The county also has a huge non-Luo population that is gradually pulling away from the Odinga party.

GRASSROOTS MOBILISATION

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