KISUMU, Kenya, Sept 16 – It will be a litmus test for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party in the Monday by-election for Ndhiwa constituency as it battles to remain relevant in the region it dominated since the 2007 General Election.
The party faces stiff competition from the Kenya African National Union (KANU) candidate Tom Otieno after he got a boost from ODM losers in the nomination that they termed as a sham.
The state of affairs on the ground forced Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is the ODM party leader to make a last minute campaign for the party flag bearer Agustino Neto and told the locals that the party cannot afford to lose the seat.
The KANU candidate has been campaigning on a platform that his party will not be fielding a candidate in the coming general election and will be backing Odinga for the presidency, a fact that was reinforced by his party leader Gideon Moi last week.
However, during an ODM campaign in the constituency on Saturday Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang scoffed at the statement that KANU will drum up support for Raila noting that ODM party is better off without the cockerel party.
The announcement by Moi that they are mooting an alliance with ODM with an aim of supporting Odinga’s presidency was received well in Ndhiwa constituency with some promising to vote for the KANU candidate to push for the re-union.
Neto is not new in politics having unsuccessfully contested the ODM nominations in 2007 and lost to former MP Orwa Ojode
Tom Alila as he is commonly known in Ndhiwa has consistently told his constituents to vote on Monday based on an individual and not party affiliation promising to take the path taken by the late former MP Orwa Ojode.
“Once elected the area MP, I will have an inclusive team to spearhead the usage of CDF. More so, I will give priority to projects that were left uncompleted by the former MP,” he said.
His competitor Neto of ODM is banking on the youth’s support whom he has worked with in his civil society campaign for democracy, governance and other issues affecting their welfare.
Neto is not new in politics having unsuccessfully contested the ODM nominations in 2007 and lost to former MP Orwa Ojode. He will cast his vote at Kanyangasi primary school polling station at 7am.
“I will not discriminate on completing projects that were left hanging by the former MP. During this short stint I will strive to have them completed so that the people of Ndhiwa can start on a new fold under this new constitution,’ he said.
Rosemary Rumo of The National Alliance Party will also make her debut on the Monday by-election after flooring two male candidates in the party primaries.
Rumo banks her hopes on women who form a bigger percentage of the voting bloc in the constituency.
During her campaigns she urged women to come out and take power from men who have failed to address issues that affect them.
“Women do suffer a lot; lack of health care put the lives of women during birth at risk. When it comes to water, it is women again who trek long distances to fetch that precious commodity,” she said.
Rumo said a chance to be the area MP during this short period will enable her address a myriad of problems affecting the people of Ndhiwa by extension to women who have been discriminated upon for a long time.
As the time ticks to 6am on Monday, the people 46,661 eligible voters will make a decision in Ndhiwa.
The Returning Officer Maurice Simiyu confirmed that his team is ready for the Monday exercise that will be a determinant on what Kenyans expect to see come 2013 when the country goes to the general election.
Nyanza deputy police boss Larry Kieng told Capital FM News that security officers are adequate and there should be no cause for alarm.
Kieng said they have sufficient officers deployed in all the polling stations while a good number of them will be stationed at the Ndhiwa social hall where the tallying of results will be conducted.
“It is very clear that only party agents, IEBC officials, candidates and the media will be allowed at the tallying hall. This is basically to ensure that there is no disruption of the exercise by the supporters of the candidates,” he said.