BY PROTUS ONYANGO&DENIS ONYANGO, 23.12.2014
News that the Orange Democratic Movement ( ODM) has settled on Moses Kajwang' as their Senate nominee for Homa Bay County has drawn mixed reactions from other aspirants. One of the aspirants, Philip Okundi, said the party's National Elections Board (NEB) had been given adequate time to decide on a candidate based on the criteria agreed upon by the aspirants and challenged the party to think carefully about its decision. "If this rumour is confirmed then I blame NEB for being partisan and having failed to come up with a decision that respects the will of Homa Bay voters," he said. He added, "The NEB had interviewed us and was to give us marks based on our general performance. The party was also to conduct a survey to find out who the most popular candidate was. I therefore appeal to the party leadership to stick to the set criteria. I have been in this cause based on strong personal convictions to serve the people of Homa Bay County and Kenya." Silas Jakakimba, Raila's aide and an aspirant, expressed dismay at the reported NEB decision. "We had all believed that the people of Homa Bay County would have that opportunity to have a say in this process, but this was not possible due to reasons that were well explained by the board," he said. Denied opportunity See also: ODM taking too long to name Homa Bay mini-poll candidate, complain youth leaders He added, "Until now I believe that if ODM National Elections Board will critically bench-mark our abilities to deliver a win and steer Homa Bay County to greater heights. There is no doubt in my mind that I will emerge victorious even after the scientific survey to gauge ground acceptability and popularity ratings." Jakakimba said he still had hope the NEB would remedy the situation. "I've not received official information from the board but in the most unlikely event that someone else, and in this case Moses, has landed the party ticket, then I can only say that in the party's wisdom, my friend has emerged more committed, and more loyal, to the Change Movement and its leadership than the rest of us. Importantly, it must be the party's position that Moses is more popular and will likely carry the party's flag to success on February 12, 2015," he said. Dr Kenneth Kambona, another aspirant, said he would abide by the party's decision but called on ODM to be democratic in future nomination exercises. "As a curious contestant, I went to Orange House because we were informed that the party was to pick a candidate. I was however informed by the party secretariat that the process had been pushed to tomorrow (today)," Kambona said. "Our supporters are very anxious and they keep calling to confirm the decision made by the party. NEB should expedite the process to enable us move forward as a party," Kambona urged, adding that he was ready to abide by the party's decision. Hillary Alila, who is vying as an independent candidate, said he was ready to face ODM's flag bearer at the polls. "The party has favoured Moses Kajwang' who only became its member three weeks ago. They denied to accept my nomination papers but now they have given me more hope because I am now facing a weaker candidate," said Alila, the chairman of the Kenya Professional Boxing Association.
Innocent Masara, also running as an independent candidate, echoed Alila's sentiments, saying the party should practise the democratic ideals it espouses. "They denied us the opportunity for free and fair elections. We have gone back to the people and we know what will happen. ODM will be defeated," said Masara. Other aspirants eyeing the ODM ticket include former National Social Security Fund Managing Trustee Fred Rabongo, businessman George Mboya and former Raila aide Caroli Omondi.