Raila Odinga deserves respect from Nyanza rebel leaders

My party leader Raila Odinga has in the recent months been facing a barrage of criticism from a section of leaders from his Nyanza backyard. These leaders have accused him of stifling development in the region with his style of politics. They have been crisscrossing constituencies every weekend to advance this narrative. Today, I demystify the tale as self-seeking and ill-informed.

I can describe Raila’s political journey as that which has been progressive and means well for the region and the entire country. The leaders opposed to Raila accuse him of autocracy, something which is far from the truth.

Some of the leaders out to “liberate” Nyanza from Raila’s political grip lost in past elections. I still believe they can learn one or two lessons from the electorate rather than focusing their energy on chiding Raila. Not surprising is that almost all of them were at some point members of the Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM) but became bitter after losing elections.

While it is within their constitutional and democratic right to oppose Raila, preaching falsehoods bordering on abuses is not right; Raila deserves respect.

Raila has come a long way as a champion of people’s rights; he was arrested and unlawfully detained for this pursuit.

From his days in Forum for the Restoration of Democracy to his engagements now that he is fighting for electoral reforms amongst other thorny issues bedeviling Kenyans, Raila has never had personal interests.

Today, he is leading the opposition in putting the Kenya Kwanza administration on its toes over the high cost of living, electoral injustice, and skewed sharing of State jobs. He needs the support of all Kenyans in this pursuit. We must not lose the focus on the bigger goal of a better society to myopic interests.

The claim by the Nyanza rebel leaders that the region has been sidelined for years because of its opposition politics is far from the truth. For instance, during the handshake between Raila and former President Uhuru Kenyatta, the region got almost Sh10 billion for development projects in just one year.

Some of the projects Raila helped in delivering for the region during that period include the Sh655.9 million-Ahero-interchange that links Kisumu to Homa Bay, Kericho and Kisii counties and the rehabilitation of the Kisumu-Kakamega road that had stalled. There is also the marine school in Kisumu that is part of the Railway Training Institute that was commissioned by the former president.

These angry leaders can seek State appointments (which they deserve) without abusing Raila. Most of the leaders vied on independent tickets and other parties in the last election but were not elected. If the region wanted them in leadership, they would have been elected.

Some of them were MPs, senators and governors who have almost nothing to show for the period they were in leadership. They must be honest in their criticism of Raila. Their criticism should be issue-based and not laden with insults.

I urge leaders from Nyanza, not agreeing with Raila’s political pursuit to respect him as an elder and statesman. If they do this, residents will accord them respect too.

Dr Gogo is MP for Rangwe Constituency