• ODM has gradually lost MP seats in region it once held nearly 100 per cent
• Party says dwindling numbers no cause for worry as new allies are on-boarding.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has a tough assignment in retaining his support in Western, allies of Deputy President William Ruto have said.
They say Raila’s support in the region is waning fast and may worsen as the country hurtles towards the 2022 General Election.
Raila was last weekend hosted by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also the ODM deputy party leader, in a meeting attended by one MP and a handful of MCAs.
ODM commands four seats in Kakamega — the governor’s, Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito, Mumias West MP John Naicca and Woman Rep Elsie Muhanda.
Naicca and Muhanda were absent at Raila’s meeting, eliciting debate on whether the ODM supremo is losing clout in the region.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale bluntly quipped that ‘Raila Odinga's goose in Western is cooked!’ adding that his trip to Western flopped.
“Despite even spending a night there, his meeting attracted no senator, one MP, 18 MCAs out of 87; and two governors who are persons of interest to the EACC," the vocal politician said.
Khalwale said the visit cannot be compared with those conducted by Ruto “which attracts hundreds, if not thousands, sometimes without notice.”
MPs Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), and Malulu Injendi (Malava) also exuded the confidence Raila has lost the region’s support.
They separately told the Star they are not scared of Raila's forays to the region, adding that the people now listen more to Ruto, and maybe Musalia Mudavadi.
We can point at many things he has done negatively. Luhya people have given up trying. We have given up because we feel our support has never turned into anything substantialBenjamin Washiali
They appear to blame Raila for the removal of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula as the Senate Minority leader, Mumias Sugar Company woes and the sacking of Rashid Echesa as Sports CS.
Washiali said they are no longer pointing out what Raila has done — “as there is none” — but “the harm he has caused the people through his actions.”
“Raila’s politics is not issue-based. He cannot point out at a particular item or project and purport to have given to the people of Western for their support.”
“We can point at many things he has done negatively. Luhya people have given up trying. We have given up because we feel our support has never turned into anything substantial,” the Mumias East MP said.
Barasa said,“Raila is dreaming. He is working with people with no or little political capital. He cannot penetrate Western.”
Wanyama said “Raila is a spent force. He is just daydreaming. The support he used to enjoy is no more. People are keen on working with Ruto,”
Injendi said the former PM could be having a following in some parts of the region “but has substantially lost the fanatical support he has been enjoying.”
The growing popularity of the Mudavadi-led ANC party is said to be a threat to the future of ODM in the region.
ODM chairman John Mbadi, however, downplayed the situation, saying Raila’s stakes in Western have continued to improve over the years.
He dismissed forays by Ruto, saying only Mudavadi may boast of improved share of the region’s vote.
“If Ruto could not marshal votes there when he was with Uhuru, how will he do so this time when he doesn’t have the support and state machinery?” the Suba South MP asked.
Mbadi said they have more people joining their camp such as Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, Ford Kenya's Wafula Wamunyinyi and Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu.
“We did not have these people (Ruto allies) with us in 2013. We have also realised that we do better when Musalia and Wetang'ula are away from us.”
Political Analyst Martin Andati said Raila has to do more than one-off meetings with leaders to get the region solidly behind him.
ODM woes in Western started in 2013 when a number of MPs quit in favour of the United Democratic Forum party.
In 2007, ODM swept 18 MP seats, while PNU and New Ford Kenya got two each. Ford Kenya and Kaddu got one seat each.
ODM won six MP seats in Kakamega in 2013 but lost four of them in 2017, including at the deputy party leader’s Butere bastion.
ODM has no MP seat in Bungoma county and retained only four of the seven in Busia county in 2017. Stakes in Vihiga county are also threatened by ANC.