ODM’s moment of truth


Delegates, party officials and the now-infamous “men in black” engage in a scuffle during the ODM elections

The spotlight has now turned to Sunday’s ODM National Governing Council (NGC) meeting as the party grapples with an uncertain future following the disruption of the much-awaited National Delegates Convention on Friday.

Bare-knuckle infighting and sibling rivalry openly played out at the party NDC in the full glare of Orange friends and international diplomats, projecting an image crisis as the party failed in its attempt to conduct a credible election of new office bearers.

The elections failed to take off hours after the outgoing officials, including party leader Raila Odinga, had their positions declared vacant to pave way for a new line-up.

The NGC is tomorrow expected to fill the current vacuum with interim officials, but the reaction yesterday by a group of leaders allied to Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba could affect the party’s now fragile stability.

Critically, the party’s outgoing Secretary General Anyang Nyong’o, who had stepped down from his seat, flew out to the US as the confusion raged.

But Mr Odinga has remained emphatic that despite the turmoil that rocked his party on Friday, ODM will emerge from the crisis even stronger.

“We want our party members to calm down because despite all this we are hopeful that we will get a way forward on Monday,” Mr Odinga said at a press conference he addressed shortly after the Kasarani fiasco.

He described the event as most unfortunate and apologised to the party membership countrywide after a meeting with the opposing camps at the VIP lounge at the Safaricom Gymnasium.

Signs of tough times ahead for Mr Odinga’s party emerged yesterday when the Namwamba group converge at a city hotel and declared they would demand to be installed as the legitimate party leaders tomorrow.

The other camp that favours Senator Agnes Zani for the secretary general’s post said through former Nairobi mayor George Aladwa that they will demand to have their rivals kicked out of the party for disloyalty.

And yesterday Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, a hitherto close confidant of Mr Odinga, blamed the crisis in the party on nominated MP Oburu Oginga and a group he termed as “new sycophants” whom he claimed were leading the ODM boss astray. Dr Oginga is Mr Odinga’s elder brother.

“Raila just needs good advice. He is still strong and capable but this crisis is all because of Dr Oburu Oginga, Otieno Kajwang’, Fred Outa and Mr Eliud Owallo whose political credentials to advise Raila no one knows. They are squarely to blame for all this,” Mr Midiwo told the Sunday Nation.

He added: “Their language is that what is consistently scaring people away. You can’t talk like that if you want the party to hold together.”

Bad advisors
He said that the idea of holding elections at this point was ill advised — something he claims was brought about by Dr Oburu. Nairobi Governor Evan Kidero had also called for the postponement of the elections.

“I have been uncomfortable with the whole idea of elections and the chest thumping by Dr Oburu and the Kajwang’ group. I just want to speak the truth. There is no need to hide any more,” the Gem MP said.

Mr Midiwo is among prominent leaders from Nyanza who boycotted the Friday meeting following bad blood between him and the party leadership.

“I didn’t come because I thought from the onset that the elections were a bad idea and uncalled for. I also didn’t like the whole idea of assembling youth to heckle people,” Mr Midiwo said.

But Nyando MP Fred Outa defended Dr Oginga, Mr Kajwang’ and himself instead blaming Mr Midiwo of “backsliding” and undermining Mr Odinga’s popularity by working with members of what he termed Kalausi (Dholuo for whirlwind). The term is used to refer to a group of Nyanza MPs perceived to have rebelled against Mr Odinga.

“It is wrong to say that I am mis-advising Mr Odinga. How can that be? I think Mr Midiwo is wrong. He is attempting to work with members of Kalausi and we are all worried about this,” he said.
The MP said outstanding issues would be thrashed out in tomorrow’s meeting and that the party will be up and running again.

Asked why he didn’t turn up for the party’s big event Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura said: “I am away on private business in London. I will be out for a week.”

Others who gave the event a wide berth are Dr Kidero, Siaya Senator James Orengo, and MPs Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo), Agustinho Neto (Ndhiwa), David Ochieng (Ugenya) and Ken Okoth (Kibra).

A spokesman said Dr Kidero was busy trying to fix the cities’ traffic mess though he wanted to go to Kasarani.

Mr Ochieng is said to have travelled to Eldoret to purchase fertiliser for his constituents.

Mr Orengo missed the event because he thought “the event was for incoming officials and outgoing officials”.

But yesterday Mr Outa criticised the group for boycotting the event.

“This is the party that brought them to those offices and they should respond when called upon. Why were they staying away?” he wondered.

Addressing a press conference at the Serena Hotel yesterday, Mr Joho expressed hope that the outstanding issues would be resolved tomorrow.

“We want to make it clear that we fully support the party leader Raila Odinga. But what we wanted is to install a new team to ensure we can help him become President in 2017,” Mr Joho said.
And Mr Namwamba blamed the Friday chaos on unnamed four ODM leaders and described the act as cowardly.

“We are ready for a repeat poll any time. Yesterday (Friday) we met party leader Raila Odinga and decided that we should have a repeat poll this morning. But due to logistical concerns that was not possible,” Mr Namwamba said.

But Eldas MP Adan Keynan said the team will demand to be installed as the duly elected office bearers adding that it was obvious they were going to carry the day.

“Tomorrow all of us will move into the offices and take over. The deputy party leader will take his office, the chairman will move to his office and all of us because it is obvious the delegates had shown whom they wanted as officials,” he stated.

Last evening Mr Namwamba and his team met former Narok North MP William ole Ntimama at a hotel in Nairobi to discuss the aftermath of the chaotic exercise.

But Mr Aladwa insisted that it Mr Odinga who will decide who will seat in which position arguing that the party was his and he must take charge.

“It is now obvious that our competitors are out to snatch this party from Mr Odinga and their aim is to block Mr Odinga from contesting the Presidency in 2017. He must now come out to defend this party and we will not sit back and watch the party go,” Mr Aladwa said.

He asked Mr Joho and his group to quit if they were not satisfied warning that they will not be tolerated if they continue “destabilising” the party.

Denying responsibility for the chaos that erupted at the party NDC, Mr Aladwa instead blamed the rival group for the nasty events that broke down the party polls.

And Busia County Women Representative Florence Mutua, who is allied to the Dr Zani’s camp, tore into the Joho-Namwamba camp accusing it of having unleashed unlimited resources to destroy ODM.

“We will not sit and watch as our party being auctioned to the highest bidder. If these people feel they are popular then why can’t they start their own party? We need loyalty, not money,” Ms Mutua who was contesting for deputy organising secretary’s seat said.




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