Young ODM MPs uneasy as scramble for House seats hots up

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The scramble for House committee positions has rocked the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party as young lawmakers seek recognition.

A Twitter spat among legislators Babu Owino (Embakasi East MP), Ledama Olekina (Narok) and Peter Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay Township MP) exposed the Party's infighting for positions.

On Thursday, September 22, Babu Owino took to Twitter to voice his displeasure after ODM picked Nominated MP John Mbadi for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson seat.

Owino alleged that the Party had earlier settled on him before rescinding the decision.

Owino claimed Mbadi was to be fronted as the National Assembly Majority Leader, a position that has since been assigned to Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

The Embakasi East MP has vowed not to relent on his efforts to get PAC chairmanship.

“@TheODMparty, with due respect, why should John Mbadi come down from the position of Majority Leader to PAC chair which was reserved for me. This will not happen! Over my dead body. Young people must get their space. It’s now or never. He (Mbadi) has been rewarded through nomination,” said the youthful MP.

Mbadi, who served as the 13th Parliament’s Minority Leader, was nominated to the National Assembly after he stepped down from the Homa Bay gubernatorial race in favour of Gladys Wanga, who flew the ODM Party ticket.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi was proposed for the position of Majority Leader in the National Assembly, with Kathiani legislator Robert Mbui as his deputy.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed was picked as the Majority Whip in the House, deputised by Nominated MP Sabina Chege.

The MPs’ quest for Majority House leadership positions come on the back of a fight between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya on which coalition has the higher number of MPs in the National Assembly.

Babu Owino’s posturing for PAC chairmanship was protested by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Opondo Kaluma.

“Baba @RailaOdinga has enabled you (Babu Owino) to serve [for] two terms as [a] Member of Parliament just for shouting ‘tialala, tibim’! What more does Baba owe you, kid bro?” Kaluma asked Owino on Twitter, a post that degenerated into unprintable insults.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina, on the other hand, faulted ODM for being “selective” in picking candidates for House leadership, saying the Party has a tendency of overlooking youthful legislators.

“It’s about time we (youthful ODM MPs) demand what is ours. Enough of always being kept in arms way while others chill in their cribs and are rewarded with the lion’s share of Party positions,” he said on Twitter.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who controversially lost the ODM ticket to Gladys Wanga in the race for Homa Bay Governor in the August 9 elections, said: “ODM has become a personal property and a commercial asset which the owners use to maximise financial returns and optimise their wealth creation.”

“Let’s understand where Babu Owino is coming from. ODM is what it is because of the youth; majority membership. The youth provide zeal and passion, yet when the bread is being shared nobody thinks of them.”