Ruto-Oparanya meetings cause jitters in Raila party
Rawlings Otieno and Douglas Dindi
Deputy President William Ruto’s revelation that he has been holding meetings with ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya has elicited disquiet within the Opposition party.
Sources within ODM told People Daily that a section of the party’s hierarchy was not happy with Oparanya, terming him a mole.
The source, whose account was corroborated by some Orange House insiders revealed that the simmering disquiet had forced Opposition chief Raila Odinga to rally to Oparanya’s defence, if only to calm an impending storm within the outfit.
“Baba is shielding Oparanya from some members who feel he is a betrayer and a mole.
That is his only heavyweight and a trusted ally from Western. The biggest undoing is that Oparanya is doing his things and when caught he says Baba is aware,” said the source.
Yesterday, several MCAs from Oparanya’s Kakamega backyard came to his defence saying that his meetings with Ruto were within his constitutional rights.
Steadfast in ODM
The MCAs led by Deputy Majority Leader Joel Ongoro maintained that Oparanya remained steadfast in ODM and had no plans to defecting to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which is associated with the DP.
“Oparanya has no plans to ditch the ODM party. He is a politician and he has every constitutional right to meet any political leader. People should not read much into this,” said Ongoro.
Butali/Chegulo ward MCA Kelvin Maelo (Jubilee), Farouk Machanje (Khayega, ANC) and Scholastica Ngina (ODM, nominated) said Oparanya does not require permission from his party to meet and socialise.
“Oparanya has a sizeable following behind him and is free to seek support from other leaders to better his bid for presidency next year. He has even applied to fly the party’s flag in the 2022 elections,” said Ngina.
Speaking on a local TV station last Thursday, Ruto revealed that he had held meetings with Oparanya on at least five occasions to discuss ways of forging a common front ahead of the next General-Election set for next year.
His claims came against the backdrop of a meeting he held with Oparanya, former Cabinet Secretaries Mwangi Kiunjuri and Rashid Echesa at the Mahali Mzuri camp in Masai Mara Game Reserve, fuelling speculation of an alliance with Raila.
That was after Oparanya had stated that his meeting with Ruto had Raila’s blessings.
When speaking on Citizen TV, Ruto maintained that his dalliance with Oparanya had nothing to do with any emerging alliance with Raila, and that on the contrary, he was keen on selling the Hustler Nation idea to Oparanya.
“I have met Oparanya at least five times and he was not sent by Raila. We have talked about the Hustler movement.
He is not alone but there are also several leaders including Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and senior government officials,” Ruto said.
Sources said Ruto had dispatched his own chopper to pick Oparanya at his Butere home in Kakamega county.
“The meeting I had with my friend Wycliffe Oparanya is an engagement we have had before.
There are many leaders, not just Oparanya. Two weeks ago I met 17 other governors to discuss the future of politics with them,” Ruto claimed in the interview.
People Daily has established that it is because of the disquiet that Raila instructed the party’s Director of Communications Philip Etale to set the record straight that Oparanya is a loyal member of the party and an ardent supporter of ODM.
In a statement, Etale, confirmed that Oparanya has held a few meetings with Ruto, in Nairobi and elsewhere, and that he yjr Gpbernor has not been on any mission of betrayal as some people may want it to look.
“Sometimes in politics, it is good to learn what your opponent is plotting and be able to get the best defense to counter them.
Our ODM members and supporters should therefore not read any mischief in the said meetings that our Deputy Party Leader has held with the DP,” he added.
Oparanya’s exit from the ODM would significantly diminish its fortunes in Western Kenya, having remained the most dependable Raila ally and the senior most politician in the party.
“As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent.
Conquer him with love”, in all instances, Oparanya has been briefing our ODM party Leadership including the Party Leader on every detail of his discussion with Ruto,” said Etale.
When People Daily contacted ODM’s Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, he remained non-committal only saying that there is nothing.
“We have been talking about these issues and they are in the public domain,” said Sifuna.