Rebel MPs must stop the drama and work

A section of ODM 'rebel' MPs led by Gem's MP Elisha Odhiambo and his Langata counterpart Felix Odiwuor aka Jalango after addressing the media at Parliament buildings, Nairobi on March 17, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Like the hee-haw braying of a donkey, what awaits rebel Azimio politicians in the next election is obvious. Their date with the ballot in 2027 will be messy.

Before they dropped the Opposition like hot iron to 'work' with Kenya Kwanza, the renegades - mainly from Nyanza - knew pretty much it wasn't going to be flowers and hearts.

This is why their current piteous cries for 'help' and protection against ODM supremo Raila Odinga's perceived political wrath are absurd, and even hilarious, to say the least.

When President William Ruto visited Nyanza last Saturday for the homecoming of Interior PS Raymond Omollo, the rebels pleaded with him to 'rescue' them from a furious Odinga. How exactly Ruto should play that role isn't clear.

A vanquished Lang'ata MP and comedian Felix Jalang'o was the first to call on Ruto to 'use your friendship with Raila to ease our troubles.'

Jalang'o, now a pariah at home, claims Azimio insiders have trained guns on him yet he has not officially decamped.

Then Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda told Ruto 'we don't owe anyone an apology for working with you' but privately, just like Suba South MP Caroli Omondi, Uriri's Mark Nyamita, Paul Abuor (Rongo), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and Gem's Elisha Odhiambo, he's shaken to the core.

Their desperation for 'help' reminds one of events of May 20, 1992 when an Ugali-eating visit to State House left politician Martin Shikuku battling accusations of scuttling the opposition in favour of Kanu. The pressure of his own guilt literally crucified him.

The rebels have rattled the land. They have become strangers to their people - no usual hearty claps, no podiums in funerals to greet the masses and no more free association with supporters. And in Nairobi, the ODM disciplinary committee has flashed the red card on them. A popular verse in the revered book of Proverbs chides the guilty for running away when no one bothers to follow them up. It captures the dilemma of these Azimio rebels who feel indebted to over-explain their links to State House.

The usual line is that they are being crucified for being loyal to Ruto so that 'development' can come to their constituencies.

In my view, leaders, no matter their party, should work with the President in full public interest. The rebels should not look back for following a valid dream. They shouldn't feel guilty over their priorities. Why play victimhood or act contrite for standing your ground? They must end this drama, work and allow history to be the judge.

Granted, there are varied reasons leaders seek the president's ear. Some could be personal. Whatever the reasons, however, it is important to reconcile ourselves with the fact that meeting a Head of State isn't a crime.

In any case, we only have one president. And in working with Ruto, we don't have to chide the opposition. Not every time is for opposition-government wars.

Always being on the defensive for associating with the president breeds the fear that we are dealing with schemers who could be warming up to other things disguised as development. When meeting a president leaves a leader with a guilty conscience, then something is off.

I have argued here before that the coyness in Azimio towards Ruto has no purpose. Constitutionally speaking, the need to keep the regime in check should not translate into the trepidation we see towards the president's engagements with opposition strongholds.A lot is at stake. Now, we must remind Kenya Kwanza honchos that they can no longer get away with 'pocketing' Ruto. He is the President of the Republic, not of Kenya Kwanza.

For the love of the nation, Azimio and Kenya Kwanza must make Kenya a better place, not through incessant street fights like we saw this week but productive communication.

The writer is a communications practitioner. Twitter: @markoloo