For some time now, there has been talk to the effect that I, Oduor Ong’wen, took advantage of my position as the Party’s Executive Director to propose my “two wives,” children, sister-in-law, secretary and girlfriends to Party Lists. As I write this, some members of the Party are mobilising a section of ODM members – especially women leaders – to protest. This is as unfortunate as it constitutes the misrepresentation of the process and events surrounding the developments surrounding Party lists. I wish to put the record straight as follows:
1. The development of the Party lists was at two levels: national and county. Following a meeting of Party stakeholders in Elementaita, we developed guidelines which assigned responsibility of members of the county assemblies to County Electoral Colleges comprising the following:
i. Chair, County Coordinating Committee
ii. County Women Leader
iii. County Youth Leader
iv. Governor candidate
v. Senator candidate
vi. All national assembly candidates from in the county, including Women Representative.
2. All the recommendations from the counties were to be processed by the NEC Nominations Committee comprising:
i. Mrs Ogla Karani – Deputy National Treasurer (Chair)
ii. Mrs Beth Syengo – National Chair, OWL
iii. Mr. John Ketorah – National Chair, OYL
iv. Hon. Junet Mohammed – Director of Campaigns
v. Hon. Opiyo Wandayi – Secretary for Political Affairs
vi. Ms Irene Oloo – Advisor, Women Affairs (coopted).
3. For the record, I was not a member of the NEC Selection Committee.
4. Proposals from counties would constitute two-thirds and national committee to fill in the remaining one-third.
5. All applications that were received at the National Secretariats were sent back to the counties, which chose their nominees therefrom.
6. Most of the counties did not follow the guidelines and ended up with multiple parallel lists of nominees. Among the counties that provided multiple lists were
7. List of applicants from the staff of the National Secretariat, Raila Odinga Secretariat, Presidential Campaign Secretariat, the Kenya Weekly party newspaper.
8. All nominees to the Senate and National Assembly were picked by the Party Leader in consultation with his two deputies in accordance with resolutions of NEC.
9. Among the applications was that of my wife. For the record, I have only wife (I have never been divorced nor widowed). As a believer in transparency and accountability in management of public affairs, I declared a conflict of interest at the meeting of the Party’s Central Committee held on 23rd June 2017. It deliberated on the matter and resolved that she be included in the Party List.
10. To the best of my recollection, no other leader declared such conflict of interest even though it has come to my attention that close relatives of many NEC officials are in the list. For example, the National Chair of ODM Women League BETH SYENGO, who also a member of the NEC Selection Committee was proposed to the Senate while a MR. DANIEL SYENGO PAUL is top of the list of nominees to Kajiado County Assembly in the Special category. I have reason to believe that the two SYENGOS are closely related. This is not the only such case but it was not the intent in this statement to list who is related to whom.
11. It should be on record that I was NOT a member of the NEC Selection Committee and that apart from the single case mentioned above, I have no relatives proposed in any of the Party lists. My only interaction with the lists was only when they came for discussion in the Central Committee.
12. My wife did not apply for that position on the account of personal relations with me but her role in the Party and struggle for the democratisation of this country. She was among the three people that used to publish MAYIENGA newspaper between 1993 and 1998 when the paper folded up. This was the first Dholuo newspaper since the banning of HUNDHWE in the 1960s and was a mouthpiece of Ford Kenya and later NDP. Because of this position, she had many brushes with law. In an incidence in 1996, both her and me were locked up overnight at Buruburu Police Station leaving our then three year old daughter uncared for. She was an active participant in the 1997 NO REFORMS, NO ELECTIONS demonstrations that led to IPPG reforms. There were numerous occasions she had to come for me in various police stations when I was arrested during my many brushes with authoritarian state. But the biggest sacrifice she made that I’ll never forget was when she had to drive herself to hospital when in labour and I had gone to Mombasa for a Bomas Katiba Watch rally. I almost lost both the mother and child. Those who have followed her postings in the social media over the years would testify to her contribution and defense of the Party. However, because she shares a bed with me, many feels she is a lesser Kenyan who should not be considered for any public position. I appreciate the position taken by our National Chairman Mbadi, Secretary General Zani and Hon. Junet to advocate for her nomination into the Party List.
13. I have three children and none of them even contemplated applying for nomination. They are pursuing their careers and education.
I hope our members – especially the womenfolk – are not duped into helping some individuals pursuing narrow self interests at the expense of people’s reputation.
ODM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.
The Kenyan Weekly newspaper is a fresh general-news publication published on newsprint once a week.