|Former Bondo MP John Hezekiah Ougo at his home in West Asembo in Rarieda. [Photo: Titus Munala/Standard]|
By Maureen Odiwuor
His decision to resign as a Member of Parliament shocked his family, colleagues and constituents.
Close political advisers rushed to his home to talk him out of giving away the Bondo parliamentary seat but John Hezekiah Ougo would not budge.
By the end of that chilly day in 1980, Mr Ougo had tendered his resignation to facilitate the return to active politics of his friend of long standing, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who had been languishing in the political wilderness following differences with then President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor, Daniel arap Moi.
About 32 years after he made history by resigning as MP to create room for a friend, Mr Ougo has come out to explain why he defied friends and family members to step down for Jaramogi.
“I was not forced to resign for Jaramogi. I was not bribed. I just sympathised with him and opted to sacrifice my political ambitions for the sake of this man whom I believed was going to liberate Kenyans,” Mr Ougo told The County Weekly in an exclusive interview at his home in Asembo, Siaya County.
Now aged 84, the little known Mr Ougo says he has no regrets for giving up his seat.
He served for a term from 1974 and was re-elected, and before the last year of his second term, Jaramogi was released from detention.
Jaramogi, who had been MP for Bondo since 1963, lost the seat after he was detained by President Kenyatta following a public confrontation between the two leaders during the opening of the Nyanza Provincial Hospital in which many people died.
“Although some of my constituents asked me if I could step down for Jaramogi if he came back, the major decision was mine, especially when I considered how much he had suffered,” he says.
He received varied reactions from friends and relatives with some advising him against the move considering he had made a name for himself.