Poll chaos and graft claims: Okoth Obado is not new to controversy

Before his election, Mr Obado, a father of three, served as the chairman of the Kenya Sugar Board.

Migori Governor Zachary Okoth Obado. He has been accused of corruption in the past. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Mr Obado’s wealth includes a two-storey mansion in his rural home in Rapogi, several commercial and residential buildings in Migori Town and adjoining towns.
  • Mr Obado has always found himself on the wrong side of Nyanza politics, repeatedly locking horns with the region’s political kingpin Raila Odinga and his allies.

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Migori Governor Zachary Okoth Obado is not new to controversy.

From violent confrontations with political opponents to corruption allegations levelled against him and his close allies, he has not had it easy since he was elected governor in 2013.

Before his election, Mr Obado, a father of three, served as the chairman of the Kenya Sugar Board, a position he appears to have used to cultivate high political connections that he would later use to clinch the gubernatorial seat on a ticket by the little known People’s Democratic Party (PDP), defying the ODM wave in the region.

Prior to joining sugar politics, Mr Obado, a trained teacher, had previously taught at Taranganya Boys High School in Kuria and later at Rapogi Boys High School in his home constituency of Uriri, Migori County, before quitting to venture into business.

CORRUPTION

During his first term as governor, he weathered a string of corruption allegations against him and his administration in general, among them the embezzlement and loss of up to Sh600 million through procurement irregularities.

One of the most sensational accusations he faced was that he had purchased a Sh1 million bed using county resources, a claim he vehemently denied, terming it “baseless propaganda peddled by my rivals and blown out of proportion by the media”.

Like several other governors, the politician also faced allegations of procuring ambulances worth Sh231 million from Toyota Kenya who mainly deal in pick-ups but require upfront payment if one requires a different vehicle like in this case, an ambulance.

“When the auditors were here, they found that we had paid for the ambulance, but Toyota was yet to deliver and we explained this to them," he defended himself in an interview.

WEALTH

Mr Obado’s wealth includes a two-storey mansion in his rural home in Rapogi, several commercial and residential buildings in Migori Town and adjoining towns.

When asked about the source of his wealth in the run-up to the last election, Mr Obado retorted: “Before I was elected governor, I was running successful businesses, besides having invested in property. People should not think that whatever I have is as result of my position as governor.”

Throughout his six-year stint as governor, Mr Obado has always found himself on the wrong side of Nyanza politics, repeatedly locking horns with the region’s political kingpin Raila Odinga and his allies.

In the run-up to the 2013 election, Mr Obado “defied” Mr Odinga’s unity calls by ditching the Orange party - accusing the opposition chief of imposing his preferred candidate, Prof Akong’o Oyugi on the people of Migori. He went on to trounce Prof Oyugi in the main election.

GOONS

In the run-up to last year's election, Mr Obado again stirred controversy when goons said to have been allied to him stormed Migori Stadium and violently disrupted a campaign rally led by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho to drum up support for his then opponent Ochilo Ayacko.

Mr Obado was at it again when he openly opposed ODM, and by extension Mr Odinga’s choice of Mr Ayacko to run for the vacant Migori senatorial seat following the death of former radio broadcaster Ben Oluoch Okelo mid this year.

Mr Obado holds a Bachelor of Education degree and a Master’s degree in Strategic Management both from Kenyatta University. He is married to Hellen Obado.

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