AGENT OF CONFUSION?

Major falling out looms between Raila and Wanjigi

Wanjigi convoy stoned in Migori, driven out of town, throwing Nyanza visit into disarray.

In Summary

• ODM officials  at war with the tycoon on grounds his mission in the party is murky, he appears trying to slow Raila's presidential quest.

• Wanjigi says he's seeking the ODM presidential ticket, wants Raila to retire for 'new blood', says Uhuru never introduced Raila to Mt Kenya.

ODM presidential aspirant JimI WanjigI beginning four-day tour of Nyanza on September 16
RIVAL JIMI: ODM presidential aspirant JimI WanjigI beginning four-day tour of Nyanza on September 16
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

A major falling out is looming between ODM chief Raila Odinga and businessman Jimi Wanjigi as their battle for the party's presidential ticket took an ugly turn. 

Wanjigi is being termed an agent of confusion in ODM.

On Friday, Wajingi’s convoy was stoned in Migori as irate youths literally drove him out of town. The county is seen as part of Raila's Nyanza bedrock.

Presidential aspirant Jimmy Wanjigi was pelted with stones at Posta Grounds in Migori town by a group of youth.

Raila and Wanjigi had been best of friends. The two teamed up in Nasa ahead of the 2017 elections and mounted a spirited campaign to vanquish President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

The shrewd tycoon is a son of former Cabinet Minister Maina Wanjigi.

His game plan is unclear and there are claims he is out to wreck the party and Raila's chances from within.

“Looks like Jimi Wanjigi will take over ODM completely or wreck it,” lawyer Ahmednasir Abdulahi said.

Orange House top brass and close associates of Raila now say Wanjigi is up to no good and his strategy could be to slow the party and block Raila's chances.

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya said they have no problem with people seeking to fly the party’s flag but that they must follow due process.

He said said Wanjigi’s message was suspect as he “appeared to rock the boat from within by discrediting the handshake.

“His utterances are worrying me…We have no problem with his ambitions but he must respect the leadership that is there,” Oparanya told the Star.

In his campaign, Wanjigi has been asking Raila to retire and allow “fresh blood” to lead the country, sentiments some insiders say are more than friendly fire.

When he landed in Nyanza on Thursday, Wanjigi dismissed  President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to the handshake, saying for four years, Uhuru is yet to introduce Raila to Mt Kenya.

“The political cooperation between Raila and Uhuru is one sided. Uhuru should have introduced Raila in Mt Kenya if he really wanted him to succeed him,” Wanjigi said.

Top ODM officials have also rubbished claims that Wanjigi bankrolled Raila’s 2017 campaign.

Senior ODM officials told the Star the businessman has never financed the party as  believed in some political quarters.

At the height of the Nasa campaigns, Wajingi was accused of creating a parallel manifesto, separate from the official one that was authored by technocrats led by economist David Ndii.

While the Ndii-led manifesto largely dwelt on Nasa’s ideological and policy platforms, Wanjigi'sdetailed investment in projects required for the coalition to fulfill its objectives. There were 90-day and long-term goals.

ODM national chairman John Mbadi said even Wanjigi himself is aware no one can elect him president.

Mbadi said that throughout Wanjigi'ss campaigns, he has never  heard him popularise the party.

“I am just seeing him move around. I am not sure he wants to be the president. I am sure he knows he can’t but it is his democratic right,” the Suba South MP said.

He dismissed Wanjigi's meetings in Nyanza, saying some of the people he is engaging are not ODM delegates.

Oparanya and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho were seen as serious contenders for the ODM party’s ticket.

However, the two appear to have quietly agreed to back Raila as  insiders claim 2022 is the former prime minister's best chance with the backing of the system.

A about 2pm on Friday, Wanjigi's motorcade was trying to snake its way through Migori town but was halted at Posta grounds.

Youths both on motorbikes and on foot started pelting it with stones on the busy Migori-Kisii highway.

They smashed vehicles' windows and side mirror and dented the panels.

Youths on motorbikes chased the convoy outside town past Wanjigi's designate venue, about four kilometres at Namba junction outside town.

Earlier, a group of youths stormed Maranatha Faith Assemblies Church hall in Migori where Wanjigi was to address delegates. The audience was beaten up.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, containing the melee that injured many people and destroyed property.

Tension had been brewing in Migori since Wanjigi landed in Kisumu on Thursday.

The youths chanted he would not be allowed to hold any meeting in the county.

The chaos could be replicated in Wajingi’s planned tour of Siaya and Kisumu counties.

Tension over the Migori meeting started brewing as Wanjigi was set to be hosted by Suna East MP aspirant Samuel Amimo. He is the main rival of Raila confidant Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.

ODM party leaders and leaders tried to prevent delegates from accessing the venue. But by Friday morning,  people wearing orange ‘Jimmy Wanji for President” caps were peacefully seated in the venue.

Some of those in attendance said they wanted to see “the power of Wajingi’s wallet”, which they have often read in the media.

ODM secretary in charge of Nyanza region Philip Makabongo on Wednesday instructed ODM branch officials not to welcome Wanjigi, terming his visit  private.

In a terse memo, he instructed the regional officials not to participate in the meetings in their capacity as party officials.

“It is the ODM party tradition to notify grassroots officials of any visit by a national guest,” Makabongo told the officials.

ODM officials are at war with the businessmen on grounds he is trying to hobble Raila's presidential bid.

He is viewed as 'an agent of confusion', hence, not part of the party’s campaign strategy for the 2022 vote as some had touted.

(Edited by V. Graham)