RAILA SET TO OVERHAUL ORANGE HOUSE
Mr Raila is understood to have been angered by reports that embattled ODM Executive Director Magerer Langat had been replaced by activist Wafule Buke even before a team formed to investigate the attack on the former at a party meeting last week had started its work.
Wednesday’s self-declaration by Mr Buke as the new party boss, after a meeting at Orange House, Nairobi, attended by some party secretariat officials, added to the crisis in ODM. Last Thursday, Mr Magerer was violently ejected from the Coalition for Reform and Democracy Parliamentary Group meeting attended by Raila and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and in February, the party’s national polls ended in chaos.
It emerged that neither Raila nor the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which met on Tuesday to discuss the disciplinary cases that have tarnished the party’s image, had sanctioned the purported replacement of Langat.
Consequently, a furious Raila is reportedly planning to disband the entire Orange House secretariat and hire new officials following the debacle that is seen as undermining his authority. This came at a time some party members have openly rebelled against him and suggested that he should retire having failed to win the presidency after three attempts.
The ODM leader is yet to understand circumstances under which Buke and other staff members attempted a coup that was not sanctioned by NEC, which incidentally had sat a day earlier.
“The entire Orange House staff may be suspended next week and a new team hired following the Buke incident. Raila is furious,” a Raila aide told The Standard in a text message.
Soon after Buke declared himself the acting executive director, ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o disowned the changes, saying he was not aware of Magerer’s removal.
“Which changes? Who made them? I am not aware of what you are talking about? There is nothing like that,” the Kisumu senator, told said.
“Magerer is the Executive Director of ODM and is currently scheduled to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee as constituted by NEC Wednesday. Any public announcement by any unauthorised person to the contrary will attract appropriate disciplinary action. Buke’s public announcement today (Wednesday) has no bearing on decisions made by the party and he will be dealt with accordingly,” Nyong’o said in a statement.
Two other NEC members said they did not deliberate on the replacement of the embattled CEO.
Nominated Senator Janet Ong’era and Migori Woman Representative Denitah Ghati, who both attended the NEC meeting, said they were surprised by the announcement.
“The party has been taken hostage by busybodies who are not even NEC members. We have worked hard to build this party and we will not sit and watch it being destroyed,” Ms Ong’era said.
The nominated senator, who served as the party CEO from its inception in 2005 to last year, said NEC never discussed possibilities of replacing Magerer.
“These are people who are plotting to take over the party ahead of the 2017 elections so that they can control and influence the issuance of party nomination certificates,” she said.
Ms Ghati said although Magerer failed to show up on Tuesday, NEC only resolved to appoint a committee to probe allegations levelled against him and those who are said to have planned the violence against him.
“I am learning of it from you now. That did not feature in our meeting yesterday (Tuesday). Its unfortunate if secretariat members decided to appoint their own boss,” she said.
Ong’era warned that if the trend of hooliganism that has marred the party in the last one year does not stop, the party will be doomed.
“I am going to call a meeting of other leaders to review these incidents and come up with the way forward; this has and must stop,” she said.
During Tuesday’s NEC meeting, nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro, party director of membership and recruitment Rosemary Kariuki and Nairobi County Assembly Majority leader Elisha Otieno led the onslaught against Magerer whom they termed as a mole.
Magerer was accused of failure to support Ms Ongoro during the Political Parties Liaison Committee elections held recently where Wavinya Ndeti was picked. He is also accused of uttering words to the effect that ODM is dead and Raila will never ascend to the presidency.
Wednesday’s meeting was convened by Buke (Director of Strategy) and Ms Kariuki (Membership Director ) with Benson Musungu (Youth Co-ordinator), Philip Etale (Director of Communications), Isaac Omungo (Registration officer), Charles Bett (co-ordinator), Peter Otwoma (ICT) Moses Oteko, Esther Nyangueso, Silas Ogolla (driver) and Bernard Kadindo in attendance. Programmes Director Ceaser Asiyo and Joshua Kawino (Director of Finance) kept off.
At the impromptu meeting, Buke and Kariuki tabled an agenda of replacing the CEO in an acting capacity but the staff led by Kadindo and Omungo differed saying when a vacancy occurs, Kawino, who is the senior most, always acts.
However, they were overruled by the two who then directed Etale to invite journalists to “an important press conference at Orange House” at midday where Buke declared himself boss. He was accompanied by former city mayor George Aladwa and Ms Kariuki. The events yet again have put ODM on the spot and tainted its image further even before it could move on from February’s, chaotic national elections.