Confusion over ODM leader's tour of Western region

ODM leader Raila Odinga with Vihiga County Governor Dr Wilber Ottichilo and DG Patrick Saisi at Cheptulu in Vihiga. August 1, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Confusion surrounds ODM leader Raila Odinga’s planned tour of Western this Friday.

Wrangles in some of ODM branches in Kakamega and Vihiga counties threaten to spoil the party for Raila Odinga’s planned visit to Western.

Raila embarks on regional consultative meetings tomorrow starting at Sikri in Oyugis before heading to Kakamega and the Coast in what his allies have termed a campaign to unite Kenya.

The meetings offer the former prime minister the opportunity to meet opinion leaders, scholars organised women and youth groups, boda boda representatives, members of civil society among other actors from across the regions.

On August 1, Raila indicated that he would attend ODM regional delegates meetings that would inform his next political move.

He was speaking at the burial of Ashura Bakari, wife of Vihiga Deputy Governor Patrick Saisi at Cheptulu in Vihiga.

He also brokered a truce between Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo and Dr Saisi who have been embroiled in a protracted row that threatened the stability of the county government and ODM party.

Apparently, more awaits Raila when he tours Kakamega where a recent reshuffle of ODM branch officials has divided members.

Kakamega Deputy Governor Philip Kutima was ousted as the ODM party chair and replaced by Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito in controversial elections held by a section of the party delegates.

ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Prof Kutima’s supports have petitioned Raila and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to intervene and rescind the decision to remove Kutima.

Some members claim Oparanya, who is the ODM deputy party leader, could be behind the coup and want the county chief to come out and condemn the act.

Oparanya had earlier ruled out ODM party elections in branches and the decision by a section of the delegates to congregate and kick Kutima out could have come as a surprise to members.

“We will make replacements of officials who quit the party and those who might have died,” Oparanya was quoted as saying during the party’s branch delegates meeting  at bishop Storm Pastoral Centre last month.

Kizito dismissed the issue as a storm in a teacup and urged ODM members to prepare for Raila’s grand entry in the county. Governor Oparanya has remained mum about the issue and it will be seen whether Raila will listen to the disgruntled supporters.

Another hurdle is the perceived waning popularity of ODM in the region, particularly Kakamega where Raila enjoyed a huge backing in the past.