BY PHILLIP ETALE AND MASEME MACHUKA
Reference is made to an article titled ‘Why ODM candidates must be wary of sham nominations’ by James Omolo that appeared on The Standard opinion pages on Wednesday January 2.
Omolo has raised lots of untrue sentiments towards the sanctity of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries slated for January 17 this year.
He wrongly and without any justification and proof labels the party as that which is “characterised by rumour, innuendo, propaganda and malice.” This he purportedly attributes to the party’s alleged lack of explanation to the issues he raises in his article.
For starters, the author chose to ignore the myriad assurances ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga, party Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o and ODM former and current National Elections Board (NEB) chairmen Henry Kathurima and Franklin Bett respectively have consistently and with great clarity given the aspirants running on ODM ticket.
For emphasis, the ODM top brass has been on the forefront to quell the perception that its primaries are not going to be free and fair. The party has belaboured to conduct clinics for aspirants and used campaign rallies to assure them of free and fair primaries.
As a matter of fact, the NEB conducted meetings across the country for aspirants vying for various seats and mapping out ways to make the nominations credible and acceptable to all.
Raila has been at the forefront in assuring the aspirants of free and fair nominations in line with the ODM Vision and Mission. The ODM envisages a united, prosperous and modern Kenya, founded on popular democracy and social justice where all citizens enjoy equal political, economic and socio-cultural rights – a country that is corruption-free and where political and economic power is vested in the people, on the principle of subsidiarity.
It’s ODM’s mission to win and maintain state power through democratic means – singly or with like-minded parties – and use such power to ensure economic and political empowerment for all. This win as ODM emphasises will be through just democratic processes which free and fair primaries are key.
The assertion that Party Chief Whip and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo had allegedly said that Oburu Oginga will be given direct nomination has since been clarified by the party and when contacted Midiwo confirmed to the party that he was not party to those remarks.
It is worth noting that the party leader is a renowned defender of democracy and a fighter of fairness in every spectra and therefore, as a leading presidential candidate, he will be the last person to favour any candidate or aspirant, let alone his own kin. He stands for a just society that embodies free choice.
The said pulling out of one of the aspirants for the seat of Siaya Governor cannot be blamed on the party and can be well addressed by the aspirant himself. This does not signal direct nomination as there are other aspirants still running for the seat.
To also indicate that ODM has not responded to Midiwo’s remarks is false and aimed at painting ODM as insensitive and less concerned to issues raised by members. Nyong’o addressed a press conference and clarified the issue and emphasised the quest for free and fair polls.
Another false assertion is that Nyong’o revoked the appointments of the chairman of the NEB Kathurima who was replaced by Bett. Nyong’o as spokesman of the party is the sole voice charged with the responsibility to communicate all the decisions of the party organs.
To suggest ODM has interfered with the work of the board is another fallacy propelled by non-believers of the democratic processes in ODM. The decision to delink the electoral body from ODM’s national secretariat was made by the top leadership and not by Kathurima.
This was to enable the board members hold their sittings without interruption from the hundreds of visitors who throng Orange House for service daily. The author is wrong to suggest that the party is not ready for primaries. He claims to be an insider when he has not presented himself for clear information.
As it is in the public domain the party has always indicated on the mode of election, who will conduct it and when the exercise will be done. The board is in the process of identifying credible, transparent and independent officials to preside over the primaries. It is also in the process of compiling the list of all the aspirants who have been cleared to participate in the primaries. This list and that of the polling stations will be made public.
(Etale and Machuka work in the ODM Communication Department)