Constituency row jolts Raila as Oparanya backs Orengo team

Siaya senator says he will neither be intimidated nor yield to threats to abandon what is right

In Summary
  • Oparanya described the proposed allocation a time bomb that has potential of dividing the country against the very intention of the initiative.
  • The former Council of Governors chairman also weighed in on the wrangles in the Orange Party saying the internal dispute resolution should have been applied
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya
Image: FILE

ODM leader Raila Odinga is under siege with top ranking members of his party openly contradicting him and others daring him to a political duel.

The open defiance jolted Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta to release a joint statement on Wednesday pleading with Parliament not to ruin the BBI process.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has now joined Siaya Senator James Orengo and his troops warning the sharing of 70 new constituencies “will divide the country”.

And for the first time since their last political face-off in 2002, Orengo dared Raila to bring it on, saying he will never be intimidated to stop speaking his mind.

In an apparent reference to his ODM party leadership, the Siaya senator said he has seen it all and will not yield to threats to abandon what is right.

"I can never be intimidated in my political life because I have seen powerful people come and go; I have seen presidents come and go,” Orengo said in the Senate.

"If my day comes I will accept it, but my conscience, the way I was brought up I can never sell it, I would never.”

Orengo’s ally Rarieda  MP Otiende Amollo was on Tuesday sacked from the influential Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, a political move that was seen as a warning shot to Orengo. The two are ideological soulmates.

The tough talk signalled the possibility that Luo Nyanza could face the 2022 polls as a divided house—a political first in almost two decades.

Raila and his inner circle, comprising mainly ODM chairman John Mbadi and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, have come under fire for edging out progressive minds.

“Some people are in ODM to look for food and will auction us. They will look for where they can make a killing then put us into trouble,” said former ODM director of strategy Wafula Buke.

Worse for Raila, Oparanya, who is his second in command, also warned that selling BBI would be an uphill task if the sharing of constituencies is not revisited.

“It’s going to be very difficult for Wananchi to pass BBI if this issue of constituency is not looked at,” he said on Wednesday.

The sacking of Otiende, according to Oparanya, was ill-informed and does not serve the general good of the party.

“As the deputy party leader of ODM, I think the wrangles going on in the party are not healthy and we know very well that if there are issues in the party, there are internal structures that can be used to resolve such a dispute,” Oparanya said.

The Wednesday statement was the second time Oparanya was contradicting ODM position of unconditionally supporting the constitutional amendments.

Last month, the former Council of Governors chairman said the referendum should be postponed to divert resources to more pressing issues like the war on Covid-19.

“The way I look at it, this is an issue that is going to bring problems, especially to us who are at the forefront of supporting the BBI, it is going to be very difficult for wananchi to pass BBI if this issue of constituencies is not looked at,” Oparanya said on Wednesday.

“If this issue of constituencies is not handled properly, it will divide this country and I think stakeholders, especially members of the National Assembly and the Senate, should ventilate on this issue so that there is a consensus.” 

Addressing a sitting of the Senate last week, unapologetic Orengo described the distribution model a raw deal for Raila’s backyard in Western region. He said there was agitation in the entire region, Nyanza included.

“Kakamega county has one of the biggest populations. Explaining how Kakamega is getting two constituencies is a bit of a problem if you are using a scientific process,” Orengo said.

But speaking to the Star, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna insisted it is the party position that the Bill is passed without amendments, pouring cold water on the push to review some sections.

“Everybody by now understands that there is no amendment that can go into that Bill. Even people are expressing what they would have wished to see, the final denominator or at the final analysis is that we all agree that the Bill has to be passed as it is,” Sifuna said on the phone.

"People would say things they would have loved to see but that does not mean they are in opposition, the position we have taken is that there is more gain in the document.”

Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga said the Bill, in its current form, will ensure stability in the country as it provides solution to the chaos that has been witnessed during every election circle.

“The 2010 Constitution has served us for 10 years and we know where the shoe pinches. Is there a price so high for a prosperous and stable economy?” Wanga posed.

According to the BBI proposal, Nairobi has the major share of the additional seats getting 12 new constituencies. Kiambu and Nakuru counties followed with six and five constituencies respectively.

Kilifi will receive four more seats, while Mombasa, Kwale, Machakos, Narok, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu and Bungoma counties will get three each.

Meru, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Kakamega and Kisumu counties will get two additional constituencies.

Mandera, Embu, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Murang’a,  Turkana, West Pokot, Nandi, Laikipia, Kericho, Siaya and Nyamira counties have each received a constituency.

Oparanya also weighed in on the wrangles in the Orange party, saying internal dispute resolution should have been applied before drastic measures were taken.

On Tuesday, ODM, which forms part of the Minority side in Parliament, replaced Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo with TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) at the influential Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for failing to toe the party line on the BBI Bill that was before the bicameral Parliament.

Orengo and Otiende have been accused of being signatory to a committee report that raised reservations about the allocations of the constituencies at a time when the party had instructed its members to pass the Bill without changing a comma.

ODM chairman Mbadi, however, defended the move, saying the immediate former JLAC vice-chairperson had failed to advance the party's position on the BBI at the committee.

-Edited by SKanyara