Raila moves to bridge widening rift in ODM

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021 00:00 |
Siaya Senator James Orengo, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo during the meeting, yesterday. cPhoto/Courtesy

Opposition chief Raila Odinga has moved to heal simmering divisions within the party. 

Yesterday, the opposition leader held a meeting with Siaya Senator James Orengo and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who have openly differed with the party leadership on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill. Also in the meeting was Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.

Orengo has been leading a faction opposed to the allocation of the 70 constituencies in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that has since been passed by the National Assembly.

When contacted, Oparanya said the meeting revolved around party issues, adding that there has been a lot of speculation about a split in the party.

“The meeting was about our party issues and which we have resolved. Raila was also concerned about the happenings. We have agreed to work together, unfortunately Covid-19 is still with us and we cannot meet frequently, creating space for all these speculations,” said Oparanya.

According to Oparanya, Raila called him to discuss his Butere Church function in the company of Orengo and embattled Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, who was last week axed from the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC). On Sunday, Orengo and Otiende flew to Butere in a chopper and joined Oparanya for a church service at St Benedict Catholic Church, Mukoye, before proceeding to the Governor’s Mabole home for a meeting.

At the church, the trio maintained they still support the party, but accused some unnamed politicians of “misleading Raila for their selfish political gains. 

The trio cautioned the party leader to be “wary of people who want to ruin the party’s chances of forming the next government. “Raila called me and later called Orengo after I suggested that he should also come. He had called to ask me generally about the meeting in Butere before he suggested that we meet,” said Oparanya.

Youth unemployment

Ngilu, who attended the morning meeting, suggested that all was now well going by her sentiments shared on her official Twitter page.

“Our  country needs solutions to the painful Covid-19 pandemic, youth unemployment and an end to political posturing. ‘Chungwa iko imara’ (the Orange party is intact),” said Ngilu.

In her meeting, Ngilu stated that unity of purpose should prevail in ODM especially among leaders, who have shown great purpose in moving this country forward.

“Kenyans are looking up to us to get them out of these challenges. This is not the time to disagree about issues that should be bringing us together.”

“The work of dealing with the current pandemic, youth unemployment and the stressed economic times need all of us to come together regardless of party affiliations,” she said.

On his Twitter handle, Orengo said it was a refreshing meeting where he held talks with his party boss Raila, Oparanya and Ngilu.

Raila also confirmed the meeting saying: “I had a great chat this morning with Governors Oparanya, Ngilu together with Senator Orengo whom I hosted for brunch. Thanks for dropping by.”

Return favour

Despite facing accusations of stirring division and failing to heed the party position, Otiende, who attended the Butere function, charged that they would not be intimidated for expressing divergent opinion.

“We’re in ODM by faith and Raila is our unequivocal leader. However, we won’t allow a few people to deceive him. We hope the Handshake is not meant to dupe Raila,” Otiende told the faithful.

Oparanya said the ‘Handshake’ had brought peace in the country and asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to return the favour during next year’s General Election by backing his presidential bid.

Stuck with President Kenyatta in the push of the (BBI) against a simmering internal revolt in his party, Raila now finds himself in a politically do-or-die situation.

Senator Orengo co-chaired the committee that produced the final BBI amendments, which makes his opposition to the document all the more remarkable.

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