Raila Odinga’s fresh headache as relatives, allies wrangle over 2017 polls
CORD leader Raila Odinga has a fresh headache: His relatives and allies are reportedly engaged in a supremacy battle for key elective seats, which will be up for grabs come 2017.
Raila’s cousin and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo is now at the centre of Siaya wrangles, pitting him and Governor Cornel Rasanga and ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi.
Siaya Senator James Orengo has also been roped in the battle courtesy of his closeness with Midiwo. Orengo and Midiwo have hinted that they would go for the Siaya gubernatorial slot in 2017.
In Kisumu County, Raila’s sister, Ruth Odinga and Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o do not see eye to eye with Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma. Two weeks ago, the two skipped Ranguma’s homecoming party.
They also skipped the 52nd Madaraka Day celebrations presided over by the county chief.
Nyando MP Fred Outa, who is Raila’s close ally, has also been sucked into the battle. The legislator, who is from the same village (Kobura) with Ranguma, has heightened his criticisms against the governor. Local elders had advised Outa and Ranguma to respect each other and work together. Nyong’o has declared his intention to go for the Kisumu gubernatorial seat, with Ms Odinga hinted as his deputy.
And as 2017 political contest shapes up, governors in Nyanza are feeling the heat as local politicians who are seen to be enjoying a close relationship with Raila warm up to inherit their positions.
The governors are particularly worried that acquiring Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) certificates could be a nightmare, and that those close to ‘power’ may have an upper hand.
As we approach the 2017 General Election, major political realignments have been witnessed, creating different and opposing camps in the counties. In Siaya for instance, pro-Rasanga MCAs are baying for Midiwo’s blood and have defended the governor against corruption accusations levelled against him by the Gem legislator.
And in Kisumu, anti-Ranguma MCAs are working with Nyong’o to ensure the county chief is not re-elected. Recently, the senator tabled a petition in the Senate alleging nepotism and graft in the county government.
There are fears that political intolerance may be creeping back to Nyanza if the chaotic scenes witnessed in major public gatherings in Siaya are anything to go by. Claims of politicians hiring youths to heckle their opponents have been rampant.
This has not gone unnoticed at Orange House. ODM’s top leadership believes that since Raila’s name has been dragged into the political melee, the opposition leader’s support among politicians from his Nyanza backyard could weaken.
Early this week, Wandayi described Midiwo as the ‘face of turmoil’ in Siaya. He claimed that the impasse in the county is part of a wider scheme by Midiwo to prevent Raila from clinching the Presidency come 2017.
Speaking while addressing the Press in Kisumu, Wandayi said, “Midiwo is not working in the best interests of Raila. His actions do not show commitment to Raila’s course for presidency come 2017.”
He accused Midiwo and other local leaders, whom he threatened to name, of going to bed with the Jubilee government. However, Midiwo dismissed these claims saying Wandayi is weak and lacks the clout to push for Raila’s agenda in 2017.
“You contributed to Raila’s defeat in 2013 because the votes you garnered in the last general elections cannot fill a basket,” he told tthe Ugunja legislator.
The two almost exchanged blows at a fund-raiser in Simero, Siaya last weekend. The event was later disrupted by rowdy youths.
Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo and his Ugenya counterpart David Ochieng’ criticised Wandayi for claiming Midiwo is a Jubilee mole. Gumbo said Midiwo had done so much for ODM and is a steadfast politician who ought to be respected.
“We will not accept and allow anyone to call Jakoyo a Jubilee mole, yet he is among the politicians who have stood with Raila through thick and thin. It is important to respect one another. The Form Ones (first time MPs) especially, should respect us,” he said.
Ochieng’ told Wandayi to seek audience with Midiwo so that they may iron out whatever personal issues exists between them, instead of making baseless claims. He also advised him to explain to party members what the problem is so that a quick solution can be sought instead of resulting to name calling.
“Any time Jakoyo gives his opinion, he is usually judged and that is very unfair,” Ochieng said.
“We know there are people in our midst who do not have ODM at heart. We, therefore, must smoke them out before they rock the boat from within,” Outa told The Standard on Saturday.
He said Raila’s name was being invoked to warn those who have failed to toe the party line that they were no longer with the former Premier. “We are in the process of strengthening the party and we will shed off those who are not ready to move forward with the party ideals,” Outa maintained.
Ranguma shot at Nyong’o, saying the latter should stick to his Senate seat. He termed Nyongo’s change of heart as a betrayal of the mandate, which the senator was entrusted by Kisumu residents.
“The Constitution gives me a period of ten years to be a governor, therefore, if somebody is also interested in my seat, he should dream of 2022,” he said.
The divisions in Siaya seemed to worsen when Midiwo threatened to collect signatures in a bid to have the county government dissolved over graft allegations. However, Orengo has been trying to reconcile the warring factions before things get out hand. “As the county’s senator, I look forward to bringing all the elected leaders together for the sake of unity and development,” he said.
Suspicion could, however, mar the reconciliation bid, considering Orengo is Midiwo’s long-time friend and he has found a new ally in William Oduol, who gave Rasanga a run for his money during the 2013 general elections, including a by- election.
But in a reconciliatory tone, Siaya County Assembly Speaker George Okode called for a more constructive approach to end the wrangles.