Monday, 30 December 2013

Nyanza leaders meet as pressure mounts to tame the ODM rebels

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero at a past event. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero at a past event. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]
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Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero at a past event. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD] 

Saturday, 28th December 2013

Luo leaders gathered at former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s rural homestead in Bondo where they quietly endorsed him to give another shot at the presidency in 2017, after lengthy daylong deliberations. Sources at the meeting divulged to The Standard On Sunday that what remains now is when and how to deliver the message, first to the residents of the region and then to members of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) fraternity. But first, MPs explored on various avenues of countering possible political impediments to Raila’s set goal. Organisers of the event opted to keep the Press in the dark due to its sensitivity and political significance. However, multiple sources at the so-called Luo community stakeholders meeting have since divulged to The Standard On Sunday the gist of the political get-together.

Monday meeting

During the 10-hour session that kicked off at 8am last Monday, speakers stressed the need for political unity and singled out Nairobi Governor, Evans Kidero, for allegedly being sponsored by the Jubilee government to politically divide the Luo community. The Nairobi Governor was specifically targeted for allegedly trying to create a rift between the South and Central Nyanza, for his personal political gain. The Governor was further accused of “buying” the youthful first-term MPs with a view of undermining Raila and eventually staking claim to the Orange party’s leadership. Ker, Willis Opiyo Otondi, reportedly warned the MPs against being misused by “monied” operatives from “outside”, including agents of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to run down the Raila-ODM leadership. Nyando MP Fred Outa admits he raised the issue in the meeting after realising the governor is employing tricks to eclipse Raila who has been the community’s de facto leader for more than two decades. Outa claims Kidero is among those convinced the former PM would not be a factor in national politics by 2017 and is working together with the Jubilee operatives to tame him through acts disguised in the name of development. “He (Kidero) is using Harambees (fundraisers) to rock the community and divide our votes. He has been sent by powerful forces to undermine Raila and ODM,” he stated. Siaya Senator James Orengo is said to be one of the leaders who resolved that Kidero’s “divisive” activities be checked closely to avoid polarising the region. But Machakos County Senator Johnstone Muthama dismissed the Luo leaders who are driving a wedge between Raila and Kidero.

“Kidero is free to help his people but I think he is not competing with Raila because he is politically junior to Raila. Kidero is a leader of a county whereas Raila is a leader of a coalition and whom over 3.5 million people voted for,” said Muthama. When Kidero and Raila met at a function in Kisumu two weeks ago, they hugged and displayed a show of unity and maintained there is no bad blood between them. Nod to work Raila even claimed he gave the city governor the green light to work with Jubilee government for the sake of development. When contacted, Kidero dismissed allegations that he was fighting Luo leaders: “I am a leader in Kenya and I am willing to work with all leaders including those from Nyanza to spur economic growth in the country. I was elected by all tribes in Nairobi.” He said that he would devote more time to develop Nairobi County but also initiate projects to improve education and infrastructure in Nyanza. “I am working with Eng Michael Kamau, the Cabinet Secretary for Roads and his Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich to have the Oyugis- Rodi Kopany Road tarmacked in Nyanza early next year,” Kidero said. In attendance at the Bondo meeting were all elected National Assembly MPs, senators, governors and their deputies, Women County MPs, County speakers and Members of various County Assemblies. They were joined by top members of the clergy serving in the region and members of the Luo Council of Elders. Only a handful of MPs were absent, including Raila’s brother, Oburu Oginga and Rarieda MP, Nicholas Gumbo, who were reportedly unwell and hospitalised, as well as Kisumu County Senator, Anyang Nyong’o, who is currently overseas on official duty. Notably absent were Rongo MP and former Cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno and Migori County Governor, Zachariah Okoth Obado, who curiously played host to United Republican Party leader and Deputy President William Ruto, just two days before the meeting. Kidero also skipped the meeting although his aides later explained that he is not an elected local leader but The Standard On Sunday has since established that MPs from Nairobi County, including Ruaraka’s Tom Kajwang’, Kenneth Okoth (Kibra) and Omondi Ogutu (Embakasi East) were in attendance. Suna East MP, Junnet Muhammad and his Kisumu Town East counterpart, Shakeel Shabbir, are the only legislators from Luo Nyanza region, who deliberately skipped the event by virtue of the fact that they are not members of the Luo community. Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch (Ford Kenya) and Muhoroni’s Otieno Koyoo( PDP) are the only legislators outside ODM who attended the meeting. Others including Awendo MP Jared Opiyo (Ford Kenya) and Alego Usonga’s Omondi Mulwan (Wiper Democratic Movement) skipped the event and neither sent their apologies.

The meeting came up with a raft of recommendations, key among them that members will rally behind Raila in his 2017 presidential bid and that able politicians be identified ahead of 2017 to challenge sitting MPs and governors, whose party support is already wavering. The meeting tasked the Ker, Otondi, to call for another meeting of Luo elders in January to discuss unity in the region. The meeting to be conducted in Homa Bay will ‘whip’ defiant leaders and establish other avenues to foster cohesion. “I don’t like the way some of them (Young Turks) reasoned at the meeting. It indicates they have shifted allegiance and are out to cause havoc in the party,” Otondi told The Standard On Sunday. According to Bishop Mwai Abiero of ACK, Maseno Diocese, the clergy were asked to create forums to meet local community leaders to enhance harmony. He says the meeting discussed devolution and its perceived threats in the region. Work together “MPs having problems with their governors were urged to work together in harmony. Governors were also urged to be modest in the manner they drive the development agenda of the counties,” the clergy said. Despite these revelations, Raila, who addressed the Press shortly after the meeting, maintained they did not discuss political or serious national issues, insisting it was “just a social gathering to reflect on the whole year”. “We have not talked about party issues; those will be addressed in the right forums,” he said. Indications are however clear the leaders were warned not to divulge the details of the gathering as they employed different tricks to avoid the media.


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