ODM MPs' visit to State House shows Raila is on his own

ODM party leader Raila Odinga greets officials during the party's meeting at Tononoka in Mombasa on January 6, 2023. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

A bold move by ODM MPs to visit State House has sent a strong message to Azimio leader Raila Odinga that he is on his own in failing to recognise William Ruto as Kenya's president. The nine MPs are simply telling Raila to read their body language - that to they, and those they represent, have moved on with Dr Ruto as their president.

Coming amidst sustained Raila-led anti-Ruto barazas, the visit sends a strong message to Raila that the Luo Nyanza has no time for confrontational politics. How else can you explain the presence of the ODM MPs whom Raila would have banked on to rally the masses in saying No to the Ruto presidency, being at State House seeking State favours to develop their constituencies?

Raila is increasingly being isolated and as Narok Senator Ledama Olekina said a few weeks ago, Dr Ruto is too smart for today's opposition. Ledama wrote on his social media pages that Ruto was proving too smart by always planning ahead of his opponents.

He asked his colleagues to up their game or always be chasing Ruto's moves. Taking cue from the straight shooting politician, Ruto has calculated that to manage Raila, you deny him his foot-soldiers instead of taking him head on.

Raila, who is smart in street battles, might not see Ruto using force to stop his rallies or even arresting him as he dared, but the president will tactically intensify his resolve of fishing his MPs and influential personalities from his fold. Already, Ruto has swayed to his side Jubilee MPs who a few months ago would have graced the anti-Ruto public rallies in Nairobi but have stayed away, thanks to the State House meetings.

Borrowing from President Moi, who mentored him at his early stages in politics, Ruto will talk and convince majority of those in the opposition today and leave Raila exposed. I will not be surprised to see pro-Raila MPs from Kisii and Nyamira also falling over each other pledging loyalty to the president soon. The only option now is for Raila to accept defeat, go back to the drawing board and strategise for 2027. Raila can not push Ruto out of State House through the barazas, but he can through the ballot in 2027.

Through mass action, Raila can only cause economic instability in major towns. The ODM leader should accept the Ruto presidency and move on since the body language of the Luo leadership is speaking loudly. When you see his strong lieutenants hosting and praising Ruto whenever he is in their territories, then accept that the ground has shifted. Bashing those who visited and held development related consultative meeting with the President will only widen lifts within ODM but will not change who Ruto is to them.

Mr Omanga is a media practitioner