Why Raila’s party is in turmoil

Early last month, Orengo claimed the existence of a cabal within government pushing the Uhuru succession agenda.

In Summary
  • Raila's men face today's special sitting on BBI a divided lot.
  • Some ODM leaders claim they have been short-changed in the  distribution of the 70 constituencies. 
ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of Kilifi County on March 3, 2021.
ODM leader Raila Odinga during a tour of Kilifi County on March 3, 2021.

Fresh discord has hit ODM leader Raila Odinga’s camp amid claims his allies are uneasy about the handshake deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The former Prime Minister's men are disturbed by his commitment to the handshake when it is clear Uhuru is reluctant to support his presidential bid.

Insiders are also grumbling that ODM was sidelined in the distribution of the 70 constituencies created by the BBI Bill.  They say goodies have mostly gone to the President's Mt Kenya region.

Sources told the Star some in the party top brass believe the ODM boss is being taken for a ride. But they cannot speak or they will be branded ‘saboteurs’ out to wreck the handshake.

Only Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rarieda lawmaker Otiende Amollo have expressed reservations with the Uhuru-Raila deal.

Last month, Orengo said a cabal within the government was pushing for the Uhuru succession agenda at the expense of the ODM boss. 

"In this country, as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are busy with the Building Bridges, there is a cabal inside government who are busy charting the way how Kenya will be ruled after the 2022 election," Orengo said.

He added: "As a person who has witnessed how governments are run, I want to say without fear of contradiction that whenever civil servants chart the future, there can never be any peace. This is a warning shot."

Otiende, speaking at the same function, warned that the country can easily slide back to chaotic situations of February 2018.

The two were the only members of the JLAC team who disregarded the party position and appended their signatures to a report that is the basis of an implosion in ODM.

Also in the joint team were Homa Bay MP Opondo Kaluma and Junet Mohamed (Suna East). All did not append their signatures to the report.

The contested report declared the Second Schedule of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020, which allocates the 70 proposed constituencies, unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, ODM national chairman John Mbadi faulted Orengo and Otiende for failing to consult the leadership of the party before endorsing the report.  

“Our members in the joint committee before taking a position like the one they have taken should have consulted the leadership both in the House and outside,” Mbadi told the Star.

“The leadership has been consistent that you cannot amend even by removing a comma.”

The Minority leader said the party disagreed with the majority report and instructed all ODM MPs to pass the Bill in its entirety.

“It is the party’s position that Parliament should pass the BBI Bill as it is, in its entirety. This is therefore a rallying call to our members to align themselves accordingly with the party position.”

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, Raila’s ally from the Coast, said a constitutional amendment by popular initiative cannot be unconstitutional.

“Our duty is to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and we are going to say ‘Yes’ without changing even a comma.”

Those against the 70 constituencies say electoral areas have become the focal point for resource distribution and personnel hiring at the national level and should be shared equitably.

These include recruitment in the police, the army and prisons among others. The distribution of social protection funds such as the cash transfer programme for the elderly also fall in the category. 

In the current proposal, Mt Kenya gets 14 additional constituencies from the 70 proposed units while Raila’s Nyanza only got three.

The joint parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs said the allocation of the constituencies was skewed. 

Citing the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census and the applying IEBC threshold of 133,000 per constituency, the team said only 68 new constituencies should have been created. 

KNBS noted in its submission that six counties ought to have received more constituencies’ than they were allocated.

They include Meru, which should have received two more constituencies as opposed to one allocated in the Bill.

Kitui should have got one more but had none in the Bill, Bungoma should get four but has been given three, Homa Bay should get one but got none.

Kisii, according to KNBS, should have got one constituency instead of nothing and Nairobi should have had four less than the 16.

“On the other hand, eight counties would have lost one constituency each if the population threshold criterion were applied, had the constituencies not been protected as thus retrained,” reads the report in part.

They include Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and Vihiga.

Mbadi downplayed claims that Raila was being played, saying that no side in the handshake got everything it bargained for.

“Statecraft is an exercise in constant negotiations and give and take. In that process, you win some and lose some but you soldier on. That is the case of BBI and the Bill it has produced,” Mbadi said.

Kasipul MP Ong’ondo Were said the BBI was not about the proposed constituencies. The document has numerous benefits, including more allocation to counties and goodies to the youth and women.

“Let us not throw the baby with the bath water. The BBI has a number of progressive proposals and not just constituencies as being portrayed,” Ong’ondo said.



(edited by o. owino)