ODM unhappy with new Uhuru allies

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta during a joint press conference by seven political party leaders at State House, Nairobi. Photo/PD/File

Rawlings Otieno

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s move to bring on board key allies in the push for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is now facing opposition within some quarters of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

The President has brought on board key political figures in the persons of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Narc leader Charity Ngilu to bolster the campaign for the Constitutional Amendment currently before Parliament.

By bringing on board the leaders, the message was sent to those who have been opposing the document largely allies  of Deputy President William   that they are the ones President Uhuru can rely on.

However, there are now demands within ODM circles that the five political leaders be treated only as friends of BBI but not as ‘equal partners.’

ODM accuses the five leaders of jostling for the high table to get the limelight, revive their political fortunes as well as access BBI campaign funds.

Own resources

“They are trying to force themselves into the limelight.  But even if they are given space to campaign, they cannot take up the initiative.

They want to take the limelight but on the back of the works of others-ODM,” said a top ODM official who sought anonymity.

Of concern to ODM, is that the political leaders feel BBI has a budget and are angling for a share of the funds to help in the campaign for the constitutional amendment.

BBI was born out of the Handshake pact between Uhuru and ODM boss Raila Odinga and has for long been seen by critics as “private property” owned by the duo.

“ODM and Raila have been using their own resources. Secretariat was set up but there was no budget.

Truth be told, BBI was a political settlement between the two leaders. Those people think that ODM is accessing a lot of funds for BBI which is not there,” said the source.

However, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna downplayed the murmurs, saying they have no problem with political leaders taking part or having any title on the BBI table as long as the document is passed. 

Sifuna charged that any person willing to support the BBI process is welcome.

“They can have any title, including supreme leaders of BBI as long as the document is passed.

We do not care where they want to sit or which table. Kenyans know who initiated the BBI process. They know the owners,” said Sifuna.

Wetangula on the other hand charged that BBI is a national discourse that should be promoted and championed by all parties and individuals of goodwill and patriotism without superlatives.

Wetangula said as a party, Ford Kenya support the BBI process, since it has numerous benefits and that even those opposing it will be beneficiaries.

“Ford Kenya and our leadership support BBI in that context, knowing and appreciating that the outcome will be good for our beloved country and not accolades for any parties or individuals,” said Wetangula. 

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat on his side poured cold water on ODM’s concerns, saying that by-election losses by parties should not shroud the BBI process agenda.

“Where is this now coming from? Let us not mix by-election loses and BBI,” he said. 

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, a close Kalonzo ally told off ODM, saying the party should learn to appreciate the contribution of other leaders in the BBI process.

Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi challenged ODM to make good threats to disengage from supporting the Referendum Bill.

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