ODM leader Raila Odinga’s extensive tour of Western Kenya has largely been viewed as successful, save for isolated cases of violence in Kakamega, Busia and Vihiga counties.
Raila emphasised the need for the Luhya and Luo communities to remain politically united as has been in the past.
In an apparent effort to cement the relationship between the two groups, he reminded the Luhya community of what he did for them when he was Prime Minister.
He said he appointed many people from Western, particularly Luhyas, into the Cabinet and other senior government positions when he was PM.
He named the construction of Luanda-Majengo and Majengo-Mudete roads, as well as that of Ekero-Buyangu in Vihiga and Kakamega counties, respectively, as some of his initiatives.
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In Budalang’i, Raila reminded the residents that he was behind the construction of Sigiri Bridge and tarmacking of roads in the area.
The Opposition leader said he would have initiated more projects, but he was denied money in the coalition government.
He assured residents that ODM legislators who have resigned from various positions were in the party to stay.
“I want ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba in the house to make CORD even stronger,” Raila said.
Raila spent many hours in Budalang’i, the home turf of Namwamba, the political ally-turned-foe.
He encountered pockets of resistance in Mau Mau and Busagwa trading centres, where Namwamba’s supporters chanted anti-ODM slogans.
Namwamba, however, dismissed Raila’s visit, saying the ODM leader ferried crowds to Mau Mau Stadium.
“I wonder why he decided to pitch tent in my constituency to address people he came with,” said the former ODM Secretary General.
Raila extended an olive branch to Namwamba and Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, telling them the ODM door is still open and they need to walk and complete the journey together.
It is here that ODM leaders, headed by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, acting party secretary General Agnes Zani, Kilifi Woman Representative Aisha Jumwa and governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) and host Sospeter Ojamoong’ urged the rebel legislators to come back home.
The Opposition chief also used the opportunity to ask the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners to voluntarily resign to pave way for a new team.
“We want a referee who will not be putting on either Jubilee or CORD jersey while officiating the 2017 elections,” Raila said.
Also accompanying Raila were ODM national chairman John Mbadi, Luanda MP Chris Omulele, Andrew Toboso (Butere), TJ Kajwang (Ruaraka), Christine Ombaka (Siaya), Fred Outa (Nyando), Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Lisamula Anami (Shinyalu) and Elizabeth Ongoro (nominated senator). Nairobi ODM chairman George Aladwa was also present.
Raila also ran into a hostile crowd at Mudete moments after he had opened an ODM office in Sabatia on the Chavakaili-Kapsabet road. The situation was similar in Shibale in Mumias were some youth tried to block the road he was to use.
The crowd in Mudete asked Raila to shelve his presidential ambitions and support Mudavadi.
Raila also spent a considerable time in the larger Teso area perceived to be a URP stronghold. Teso North MP Arthur Odera and his Teso South counterpart Mary Emase were both elected on URP ticket.
He asked locals to support his quest for the presidency next year and ensure ODM snatches all elective seats, including the two parliamentary seats that were lost to URP in 2013.
“Teso voted for me overwhelmingly and I am optimistic we can do the same in the coming elections,” Raila said. He said residents must embrace the six-piece approach in electing leaders in favour of ODM.
“You must vote in ODM candidates’ right from MCA to governor,” said Raila.
Sugar politics took centre stage during his tour of Kakamega. Raila denied claims that he owes the Mumias Sugar Company company Sh380 million and challenged critics to sue him in case they have any evidence against him.
He blamed the sugar woes on cheap imports and poor management. “My bank would have paid any debt in case there was one, it is not true that I owe the sugar miller any cent.”