We are not political orphans, ODM MPs say

From left, Homa Bay Assembly Speaker Julius Gaya, Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, Homa Bay Woman Rep Joyce Osogo and Karachunyo MP Adipo Okuome. [James Omoro, Standard]

A section of ODM MPs have dismissed assertions that they could become political orphans if their party leader Raila Odinga exits to the African Union leadership. 

Odinga has expressed interest in being elected the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).

This has sparked sharp reactions and speculations over the future of the ODM party which may cause a paradigm shift in Nyanza politics and Azimio One Kenya Coalition.

Odinga’s ODM party has been significant in deciding who gets elected for political posts in Nyanza region in the previous general elections.

For example, in Homa Bay County, all MPs and the governor were elected on ODM tickets. In Migori, Kisumu and Siaya counties, governors, senators, women representatives and majority MPs were elected on ODM tickets.

The success of ODM in securing many seats in the region is attributed to Odinga’s efforts in rallying residents to vote only for ODM candidates, what has been referred to as a six-piece voting pattern.

This makes some residents feel that Odinga’s exit from the AU commission will make many ODM elected leaders political orphans.

But Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, Homa Bay Woman Rep Joyce Osogo, Karachunyo MP Adipo Okuome and Homa Bay County Assembly Speaker Julius Gaya said they are not orphans.

The leaders who attended the burial of philanthropist Bernard Onyango Owen at Kakwa Juok in Karachuonyo Constituency said Odinga’s exit to AU will not create any political vacuum in ODM.

Dr Osogo said Odinga’s ambition to join the AU Commission should not be perceived as a situation that will make them politically vulnerable.

She argued that they support Odinga’s move "however, it is wrong for anybody to call them political orphans."

She argued that they were elected on merit by the people and the same people will still elect them based on the good services they are offering.

“We support Odinga in his bid for the AU Commission chairmanship. We are leaders who were elected on merit and it is wrong for anybody to call us political orphans,” Osogo said.

Owino said Odinga’s entry into the AU should not be perceived as a vacuum in the opposition politics of this country.

He said they will ensure that opposition MPs play their oversight role against the government effectively.

“I believe Odinga will succeed in his AU bid. We will always stand firm to put the government on its toes to ensure good governance in our country. His exit will not create any vacuum,” Owino said.

Okuome argued that they will put robust measures for strengthening ODM.

This encompasses continuous membership registration. “We are going to focus on membership registration to ensure ODM becomes stronger,” Okuome said.

The leaders described Owen as an astute leader who contributed to shaping the lives of many people in the area.