|CORD leader Raila Odinga. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]|
By PROTUS ONYANGO
BONDO, KENYA: The ODM meeting recently held at former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Bondo home was aimed at preparing Nyanza leaders for the CORD leader’s intention to run for president again, The Counties can reveal.
The meeting was called by Raila and reliable sources say, as part of the efforts to prepare Nyanza for Raila in 2017, it also had several other items on the agenda, all aiming to put the ‘ODM house in order’.
But matters temporarily degenerated into a shouting match when some MPs accused some of their colleagues of disloyalty and non-commitment to the party and “eating with the enemy” to destabilise ODM.
All MPs, Senators, Women Representatives, Members of County Assemblies and Luo Council of Elders from Nyanza attended the meeting.
Only Migori Governor Okoth Obado was notably absent.
Luo leaders from Nairobi County, with the exception of Governor Evans Kidero and nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro also attended.
The MPs who accused their colleagues were of the view that those who are not seen to be loyal to Raila and the party should be disciplined or expelled from the party.
“Our man is in the race and those who do not support him should be disciplined. We will even groom loyal party members to vie against them in the coming elections,” an MP said.
At this point, Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma lost his cool after Nyando MP Fred Outa referred to him as one of those who were not loyal to Raila and ODM.
“Do you want me to strip naked and walk in the streets to pledge my loyalty. I have supported this party for a long time and no one should question my loyalty?” Mr Ranguma asked.
Another governor shot up and addressed Raila directly, “Mr Odinga, as my party leader, my loyalty to you is direct but not through any other leader. Those people around you are using your name for their selfish interests.”
More acrimony was witnessed when Homa Bay Senator Otieno accused youthful MPs of being rebels.
They said the youthful MPs were being too independent, planning to take over leadership positions in ODM and not respecting the party leader and that some of them were being bribed by the Jubilee government to weaken opposition.
Some of the youthful MPs in attendance were Ndhiwa MP Augustino Netto, Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura, Suba MP John Mbadi, Kibra MP Ken Okoth and Kasarani’s Tom Kajwang.
This angered Mbadi who walked over to the Homa Bay Senator and engaged him in a heated conversation.
“I asked Kajwang why he was saying that I had been removed from the list of ODM officials for Homa Bay County and why he was against my candidature as Secretary General for ODM,” Mr Mbadi said when The Counties contacted him.
Some of the leaders also raised concern over why it was almost becoming criminal to conduct harambees in the region. They felt that those who invite guests outside the region to conduct harambees are seen as enemies of ODM out to infiltrate and divide the region.
There were reports that Ugenya MP Opiyo Wandayi and Rangwe MP George Oner had vowed to ban Governor Kidero from conducting harambees in the region.
Some of the leaders said they are aware of a scheme by the Jubilee government to use Kidero to gain a foothold in Nyanza.
“Harambees are not bad if they are done in good faith but Kidero is strategically conducting them and we are aware that he is being used by the Jubilee government. We won’t allow him,” Mr Wandayi said.
He said Kidero is angling to take over leadership of the party from Raila.
“Raila is still our leader and anyone wishing to replace him and disrupt our unity is daydreaming. Instead of power struggles, let us successfully implement devolution and there will be no need for harambees,” Mr Wandayi said.
Nyando MP Fred Outa supported Mr Wandayi, saying that Kidero is using the harambees to portray himself as a development conscious leader while undermining other Luo leaders.
“If he does not stop his schemes, we shall initiate a process of kicking him from ODM,” Mr Outa said.
Kajwang, who initially backed the proposal to ban Kidero from holding harambees in Nyanza, has changed his mind.
“No one has the power to stop any leader from holding harambees. What I said in Bondo was that as public leaders, we should follow the law that guides harambees. But Kidero is free to do them. I have in fact invited him to be a guest of honour in a harambee in my area,” the Homa Bay senator said.
Mbadi also said he will host Kidero in April for a fundraiser.
Nyakach MP Aduma Owuor supports the senior Kajwang saying that any leader is free to conduct harambees anywhere in Kenya.
Siaya Senator James Orengo is said to be one of the leaders who resolved that Kidero’s “divisive” activities be checked closely to avoid polarising the region.
Despite these revelations, Raila, who addressed the Press shortly after the meeting, maintained they did not discuss political or serious national issues, insisting it was “just a social gathering to reflect on the whole year”.
In the last two months, Kidero has donated Sh5 million to St Mark Tom Mboya Secondary School in Awendo, SFJ Asumbi Catholic Church in Homa Bay and Ugenya Educational Fund.
Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan has also opposed Raila’s direct ticket for his 2017 presidential bid.
“We as Cord won’t give it to him directly. He has to compete with the others who will be interested. We have to give a chance to young leaders,” Mr Omar said.
But South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya has called for the dissolution of Cord party members to make the opposition coalition stronger ahead of the 2017 General Election.
All the leaders were tasked to register as many people as possible in preparation for 2017.
ODM will hold another meeting in Homa Bay at the end of January.