Raila tells ODM leaders to stop in-fighting, premature campaigns

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses mourners during the burial of former MP Kanduyi Lawrence Sifuna. [X, Raila Odinga]

The ODM leader Raila Odinga has warned elected leaders against engaging in premature campaigns that would threaten party unity and compromise service delivery to the people.

Speaking in Matungu constituency, Kakamega county during dinner cum-a come together with Kakamega ODM leaders at Governor Fernandes Barasa's residence, Raila urged leaders to stop rocking the party from within.

“There is nothing wrong with one dreaming for higher office but what we are saying is that let us focus on delivering what we promised our people, we want the party to remain intact and stronger. If an MCA wants to unseat an ODM MP, the move will cause jitters and animosity and leaders will forget their core mandate of serving the people,” said Raila.

He urged the leaders to hold their horses until 2026 when the country will be approaching the next General Election.

“We just had elections recently and right now it is not the right time for leaders to engage in premature campaigns, I have seen leaders seeking higher positions, if you are an MCA, MP, Senator, or woman representative kindly stick to your job and deliver to the electorates,” said Raila.

“If we start premature campaigns in ODM we will be diverting from the real issues affecting Kenyans and yet the same issues are what we want to address as a party in our country. We want our governors to be given time to deliver, same to other leaders and that is why we are saying let us remain united so that we can achieve what our people want,” he added.

Raila warned that premature campaigns could unsettle some leaders and force them to decamp to other parties hence disrupting ODM's agenda of fighting for the people's welfare.

“I have seen some MPs having pressure in Nairobi because an MCA in his backyard wants to unseat him or her, if an ODM  to ODM leader same to Azimio coalition starts fighting this early then it will scuttle our plans and goals, let us hold on our horses until the right time comes,” he said.

The ODM leader made the remarks in apparent reference to the political animosity between Barasa and Kakamega Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda who has already announced her candidature for the 2027 governor race.

The governor has also been at loggerheads with Mumias East MP Peter Salasya who was elected on DAP-K ticket in the last elections.

A host of MCAs in Kakamega county have also declared interest in parliamentary seats, particularly in constituencies won by ODM in the last General Election.

So far, former Busia Governor, Sospeter Ojaamong who was one of the key ODM stalwarts in Western has decamped to UDA.  The former governor was not seeing eye to eye with his successor Dr Paul Otuoma.

Raila told his supporters at Bukhungu stadium during Governor Fernandes Barasa's tournament that he is keen to strengthen the party and solidify his support base in Western region having visited the counties of Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, and Kakamega twice to lead the ODM mass registration drive.

The opposition leader told President William Ruto to stop imposing punitive taxes and vowed to resume demonstrations if the Kenya Kwanza government does not lower the cost of living.

Governor Barasa welcomed Raila's sentiments reiterating the importance of leaders sticking to their mandate to deliver for the people.

“We strongly support what our party boss is advocating for, we want leaders to do the work they were elected to do, I have been consistent that the election is over and it is time to deliver and those who want various seats should wait until the end of 2026,” he said.

The governor announced that he has put in place elaborate strategies to increase the ODM membership and after he was elected Kakamega county party Chairman.

Bumula MP Jack Wamboka (DAP-K) vowed to back Raila in piling pressure on President Ruto to lower the high cost of living.

“I have become Raila’s foot soldier we are going to ensure Zakayo (Ruto) comes down even if it means cutting down the tree or burning it, Ruto must come down and listen to the people who elected him and fulfil his pledges, as opposition leaders we are going to remain united and ensure we save Kenyans against the tax regime,” said Wamboka.

His sentiments were echoed by ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya and Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi who vowed to defend the people of Western and Kenyans at large against punitive taxes.