Why it is better for ODM leaders to meet Ruto 'in public'

Azimio leader Raila Odinga speaks during the burial of former Education CS Prof George Magoha in Gem, Siaya County, on February 11, 2023. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The Orange Democratic Movement should not be agitated because some of its members visited President William Ruto in broad daylight.

The party must appreciate that they even took photos and posted them online - for all and sundry to see. While it is obvious the party would question their loyalty, their openness must be commended.

Kenyan politics is full of people who behave like what we call in Swahili, ‘ndumakuwili’. These politicians would sing one song during the day and meet their adversaries at night. However, Jalango and company saw no need for that.

ODM should be more worried and careful with those who seem to be most faithful. We saw what happened immediately after the polls. When it became obvious that power had eluded Baba, former Kisii Governor James Ongwae and former Woman Rep Janet Ongera gave the party its first internal shocker.

Ongwae is the man Raila had trusted to lead his campaigns in the region for five years; only for him to abandon him in days. Ongera was among ODM founding members and served as executive director. She too, said adios.

While Raila continues with his Azimio’s people’s baraza, he must take more keen interest in the affairs of his ODM party for obvious reasons. ODM, the oldest party with good representation in Parliament has always survived on the account of Baba’s candidacy.

Many aspiring politicians hang on Baba’s coat for their own benefit. As Baba goes to the street, they have an office to go to and a salary. This time round, on account of Baba’s age, many do not see that happening.

They also know Baba would have to be utterly selfish to want to be on the ballot again. This time he is under pressure to return the favour to Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka. That has its implications.

Many ODM members now believe the party will no longer have the same pull at the ballot. However, this is the perfect chance to rebuild ODM around its ideology rather than the person of Raila.

With ODM and UDA, there is a chance to cement politics of ideology. ODM has always pushed for social democracy. Social democracy is essentially pursuing socialist policies like the Inua Jamii programme. UDA has built its ideology around the hustlers.

However, unless urgent action is taken ODM runs the risk of disintegrating as UDA thrives. UDA is in power with chances of extending its hold to 10 years. ODM must use current crisis to create a clear succession plan beyond Raila. More importantly, the party must utilise its coffers well. It is the nature of our politics.

-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha