Handshake has unleashed two centres of power, says Orengo

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019 00:00 |
Siaya Senator James Orengo (left) during the interview with  K24’s Punchline show host Ann Kiguta at the DSM Place in Nairobi on Sunday. Photo/PD/ GERALD ITHANA

The Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga has created two centres of power; one at State House and another at Capitol Hill Square.

Siaya Senator James Orengo, also the Senate Minority Leader, claims the Handshake had created two powerful units controlled by the President and ODM party leader respectively.

Orengo, who spoke on Sunday night on K24 TV’s Punchline talk-show hosted by Ann Kiguta, said his claims could be confirmed by the regular visits of top State officers and pro-president allies to Raila’s offices at Capitol Hill.  

“If you see the crop of people who go to Capitol Hill, from Cabinet secretaries to Principal secretaries to political leaders, though power has not completely shifted (from State House to Capitol Hill) you can see there are two centres of power.

Political power so to speak,” he said. His utterances will, no doubt, trigger political salvos from Deputy President William Ruto and his allies. 

The former Prime minister is reported to be getting regular briefings from Cabinet secretaries, and has been making pronouncements on government policy.

Getting briefings

For instance, last month, Raila met Public Service Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia at his private offices at Upper Hill, where she briefed him on the arrangements for the International Youth Day, observed on August 12.

“I hosted Public Service, Youth, and Gender Affairs CS Prof Margaret Kobia who briefed me on the preparations being undertaken for the upcoming International Youth Day,” Raila wrote on his social media pages.

On March 4, the former premier held a consultative meeting with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and stakeholders in the agriculture sector at Capitol Hill where the focus, he said, was on the challenges that have ravaged the sugar sector.

“All efforts are being put in place to ensure sugarcane production is a sustainable venture in the near future for the farmers,” Raila said after the meeting.

The trend has pointed to his growing influence in government circles. Ruto and his allies have accused the Opposition supremo of abusing the President’s Handshake gesture to grab power and plotting to wreck the ruling party for his  selfish political interests. 

Orengo said the President and Raila have been consulting each other “substantially” on various issues but at the implementing level, the President takes control.

However, Orengo maintained that the Handshake has nothing to do with power sharing between the ruling party and the Opposition as alleged by the DP’s allies, who have demanded that the President declares Raila’s role in government.

Crying foul

The DP has been crying foul that the Handshake is a calculated move to scuttle his 2022 bid. He contends that it is no longer useful to the President in terms of helping implement his agenda that will shape his legacy.

Ruto has been finding himself increasingly on the periphery, including a recent incident when the President was said to have avoided him on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where he used the ordinary passenger’s exit and not  the VIP lounge.

Orengo initiated the famous push to have the DP removed from office through an impeachment process at the Senate over alleged misconduct and abuse of office.

He said during the TV interview on K24 that the push may have gone quiet but pointed out that the plans were still alive.

“The fact that I have gone slow on it doesn’t mean that I am completely quiet and that it will never come again. Impeachment is a process and I am not saying that the plans are not there. I am not saying that I have retreated but I have said he has committed some actions which are impeachable as per the constitution,” he said.

Orengo also dispelled claims that the Handshake had effectively killed the Opposition because it had slowed down on its fight with the government, saying they have only changed tack by going “quiet because we want to create an environment that can help us bring changes”.

The changes, he said, will be achieved through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a product of the Handshake, and which by March next year, should have taken shape.  

Regarding Raila’s 2022 game plan, which had kept his backers guessing, Orengo said the ODM leader “should” face Ruto in the ballot. He said that among those seeking the Presidency, only Raila has pushed for political reforms most.

“I have been saying it persistently that he (Raila) should run because it’s good for the reforms of this country. If you look at the governments we have had over the years, we have not had a leadership that is really determined to implement reforms. 

“In order to get true reforms, you need a reformer and in the political field at the moment, I think he (Raila) is better placed to engineer the changes,” he said.

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