Raila moves to reclaim support in Western bloc
Douglas Dindi and Mercy Mwai
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has held a series of meetings to reclaim his popularity in the Western region and address contentious issues that threaten Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party in one of its strongholds.
In the meetings that were mainly held on Saturday night, Raila met with rebel Ford-Kenya leaders and Members of County Assembly at the Butere home of Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya in a bid to consolidate his grip in the vote-rich region.
Sources at the meeting told People Daily that Raila also discussed the planned impeachment of Migori Governor Okoth Obado, with Oparanya as well as the controversial revenue sharing formula that is stuck in the Senate.
ODM leader discussed Western politics in talks that involved Kanduyi Member of Parliament Wafula Wamunyinyi, who leads a faction that claims to have taken over the Ford Kenya leadership from Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, and Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati.
Also in the agenda was the Building Bridges Initiative whose report is expected to define the political future of the country.
Raila arrived at the Emabole village home of Oparanya at 5.40pm where after dinner, he went into a meeting with Wangamati and Wamunyinyi that extended into the dead of the night.
Wamunyinyi confirmed the Saturday night meeting, which he described as “normal”.
“We met Raila to consult on important national issues. You know I am the Ford Kenya Party leader, and so I have got to meet other party leaders to consult.
I met Raila to discuss Western Kenya and Nyanza politics. We also met with other leaders to discuss outstanding issues such as the Building Bridges Initiative.”
Raila is also said to have met Kakamega deputy governor Philip Kutima, a select group of party officials and ward representatives to devise ways to block a planned impeachment motion against Oparanya at the County Assembly.
“He (Raila) is keen to make new friends in Western after falling out with Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wetang’ula,” said a source at the meeting.
Former premier is said to have reached out to Oparanya, who doubles up as the ODM deputy Party leader and Council of Governors (CoG) chairman.
Oparanya has remained steadfast in support of governors who have called on investigative agencies to handle the Obado issue in a manner that respects the principles of justice and fair administration of justice.
Oparanya has called for caution on the Obado impeachment move, saying that politics should not be dragged into a court matter.
ODM Ward Reps in Migori have been directed by the party leadership to impeach the governor, who was last week charged with corruption.
“Whereas we support the fight against corruption both at the national and county governments... this, we emphasise, has to be devoid of any political interference,” Oparanya said last week.
There are fears in county governments that if Obado is impeached, the trend could spread to the rest of the country.
Oparanya has also dismissed the proposed revenue formula and called for a win-win solution despite his party leader publicly calling for the Senate to pass the proposal.
As chairman of the CoG, Oparanya finds himself in a dilemma in both instances, being expected to advocate a non-partisan position taken by the council, which in most cases counters his party position.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, who was elected on ANC ticket and Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, who have been working closely with ODM were not present at the Raila meetings.
Malala is said to be considering going back to ANC following attacks he has received from ODM due to his opposition to the revenue sharing formula that is expected to be discussed by the Senate on Tuesday.
And yesterday, at another meeting of the Orange party, MCAs at Oparanya’s home, Raila is said to have faulted Malala’s opposition to the State-backed formula as “mischievous”.
In an indirect reference to Malala, Raila said there was something seriously wrong with senators whose counties would reap big from the new formula but were still blocking the passage of the same by the Senate.
“Every MP is elected to champion the cause of his people. I find it strange that a senator opposes a formula that guarantees more resources to his county,” Raila is heard saying in an edited audio footage handed over to the media after the Butere meeting.
Raila and Oparanya were airlifted in a chopper shortly after 12.45 pm. The MCAs declined to talk to the media camping outside the gates.
Raila also vouched for the BBI report, saying its recommendations would lead to equality, fair distribution of resources including land and strengthening of governance structures.
“Even as we wait for the report to be released, we must strengthen our party at the grassroots,” he said.
Oparanya said the Nasa agreement was the cause of ODM’s losses in the last polls.
“When you agreed that Kakamega and Vihiga be under ANC and Bungoma and Busia be under Ford-K, it resulted in this problem but we are up to the challenge of ensuring we reclaim our support in the region.
Speaking to People Daily yesterday, Malala confirmed that Raila met with the leaders but was quick to point out that the meeting was an ODM affair.
“There was a meeting on Saturday but the meeting was purely an ODM affair and even if I support Raila, I would not have showed up for it,” he said.
And on the revenue sharing formula, Malala said he has not changed his stand and will still oppose it when they vote on Tuesday
“We are going to Parliament to finish the journey we started, my stand is the same. I have not changed.
I will not be threatened by anyone, I will not agree to vote for a formula that is going to marginalise other counties,” said Malala.