[ODM party during a past press conference/Photo Daily Nation]
Migori Senator Ben Okello died at MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi on Monday night.
Okello had been suffering from throat cancer and had been treated at places including India. His body was taken to Lee Funeral Home.
Richard Solo, who is former North Kamagambo MCA and the manager of Okello’s office, said the Senator will be missed as he was a dedicated leader.
Okello, a former radio journalist, surprised his opponents when he won the August 8, 2017 election as he had not been campaigning actively.
While receiving his certificate from the IEBC at Migori TTC, he jokingly said: “I congratulate my worthy opponents … as you can see I have lost weight.”
He succeeded Wilfred Machage who opted to vie for the Kuria West parliamentary post.
Okello’s victory was attributed in part to his popularity as Ramogi FM morning show presenter and his closeness to Governor Okoth Obado.
When he spoke to the Star on March 1 while receiving treatment in India, he said he was doing well and that he was still performing his duties.
Okello asked residents to work closely with their leaders to ensure development after the heated elections season.
“Despite being sick, he continued to manage his office and often sent leaders to represent him at major social functions,” Solo said.
Residents started asking questions when Okello missed Nasa’s last rally, before principal Raila Odinga’s swearing-in, on January 26.
“He skipped the rally in Homa Bay because he had sought treatment in India. He went there for the second time before going to MP Shah,” Solo said.
Raila explained the Senator’s absence at the Opposition’s rallies in the county.
On March 1, during the Migori county devolution forum which the Senator missed, Uriri MP Mark Nyamita told residents that his treatment had been going on well.
“I know there has been the complaint that our Senator is unavailable. On behalf of MPs in Migori, I inform you that Okello is unwell,” Nyamita said.
By phone today, the MP termed the Senator’s death a big loss for the county.
“He was a leader who embraced all his colleagues and never quarreled with any of them because he loved peace,” he said.
It was reported in May that nine MPs and four Senators were among thousands of Kenyans being treated for cancer in Indian hospitals.
The identity of the MPs could not be revealed but most of them were booked at Apollo Hospital outlets in New Delhi and other cities in the country.
Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim, former Ganze MP Joseph Kingi, Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua and former ministers David Mwiraria and Gilbert M’Mbijiwe are some of those who died from cancer.
MPs once asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare cancer a national disaster and inject more resources into research, screening, prevention, treatment and cure.
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