By Oscar Obonyo
Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba is at it again – exploiting a messy electoral situation to leave a mark on the political scene. During the charged MPs’ swearing-in ceremony on January 15, 2008, following the botched presidential poll, an emotional Namwamba swore allegiance to “Rais wa Jamhuri (President of the Republic) Amolo Raila Odinga, instead of Mwai Kibaki”.And following a similar impasse, after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared President-elect, he has been most visible contesting the development at public rallies and within the corridors of justice. The Budalang’i MP-elect is also among CORD’s high-profile legal team challenging the decision by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to declare Uhuru as duly elected.And many will also remember the recent night drama at Kenyatta University, where he was carried shoulder-high by rioting students, following suspicions that IEBC officials were “doctoring” poll results from one of the rooms in the varsity’s premises. The equally dynamic Suba MP-elect Millie Odhiambo accompanied the minister. That he is the PM’s key political lieutenant, with the drive to swiftly respond to matters touching on his interests at any time of the day or night, is not in doubt. In fact within the ODM) circles Namwamba has acquired a new nickname of “Jenerali” – the political commander.
Observers opine his political influence is growing fast, while colleagues from his western Kenya turf believe the second-term legislator could be the next big revelation after the current bigwigs, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Bungoma Senator-elect, Moses Wetangula.Namwamba feels flattered by the suggestions but adds he has never really aspired to the title of regional kingpin.“In fact I detest the very notion as it is antithesis to my nationalist philosophy. Until Kenya reaches a point where we embrace leaders for their real worth, devoid of those ethno-regional blinkers, ours will remain a deformed, if not stillborn democracy,” he says. His strong support for Raila notwithstanding, some regard him as the proverbial double-edged knife that cuts both sides. Noting he is close to the PM, critics accuse the Budalang’i MP of being antagonistic.Sources with the Amani Coalition claim as Mudavadi would have wished to team up with Raila in CORD, they are dissuaded by the Namwamba-factor.An immediate former MP from Kakamega County explains that Namwamba and