Ida Odinga flexes muscles in ODM ahead of polls

Ida Odinga

Mama Ida Odinga addressing mourners during the burial of Bishop Mwayi Abiero at Alwala Secondary School in Seme, Kisumu County on November 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • She recently endorsed Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi for Nairobi governor in the next polls.
  • She supports a proposal by a section of the ODM party officials to use consensus in picking candidates for various seats.

Unlike spouses of the big five in the political arena, Ida Odinga, the wife of ODM chief Raila Odinga, is said to be so powerful that her influence in the party cannot be ignored.

Even though she mostly operates in the background, her recent public statements on the Orange party politics have once again turned the spotlight on her. 

ODM politicians will tell you that in those occasions when it becomes too difficult to access Mr Odinga, perhaps the easiest and somewhat shortest route is through Min Piny (Luo for mother of the nation) as they call her.

Many are the occasions when disgruntled aspirants after nominations have sought audience with her, with some looking for her even before the primaries if she can put in a good word for them. It may not be in every matter or every day but the consensus in the party is that her shadow looms large. Some party officials are even said to consult her, informally, on decisions that have far-reaching implications on matters such as gender.

For her role as the First Lady, Mrs Margaret Kenyatta is expected to maintain a high-level of visibility yet even with that, she does not directly get immersed in elective politics. In fact before 2013, she kept such a low profile even despite the fact that her husband was Kanu chairman and deputy prime minister before.

Courtesy of Joywo (Joyful Women Organisation) network that works with women groups across the country, Ms Rachel Ruto, the wife of Deputy President William Ruto has assumed a different model of helping her husband keep in touch with the masses.

She does not comment about political trends and events, at least publicly. Other than the organisation, the other occasion she interacts with political friends of her husband is on Wednesdays when the DP leads Karen office in fasting and meeting religious leaders.

Tessie Musalia, the wife of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, is also not known to get involved in politics as she prefers a quiet life. But it is Pauline Kalonzo, the spouse of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka not seen in public for a long time now who is the quietest of all.

Mama Ida, however, has a different style: She does not hesitate to speak her mind, even encouraging young women to go for elective seats in the next elections. She hosts elected women leaders periodically to brainstorm on the challenges they face, how to overcome them and also possible ways of ensuring more are brought on board.

She recently endorsed Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi for Nairobi governor in the next polls. The move has since irked other aspirants who feel her public support before the party conducts nominations may accord the lawmaker a head start; it may even be seen as having blessings from Mr Odinga himself-they charge.

“Tim is like my son, and he has a vision. We will ensure we support him so that he becomes the next Nairobi governor in 2022 under the ODM party ticket," she said.

She supports a proposal by a section of the ODM party officials to use consensus in picking candidates for various seats in the General Election next year.

She promised that those who will miss the party ticket will be considered for other jobs in the next government should they win.

“I suggest that aspirants should have a meeting at the local level and agree among themselves on who deserves the party ticket,” she said yesterday at Sing’eng’e primary school in Ndhiwa constituency where she officiated at a funds drive in aid of construction of classrooms.

Though she did not say areas she wants aspirants to agree on nomination, she indirectly pointed out Siaya, Migori and Homa Bay where aspirants in governor race have hit the campaign trail. 
Additional reporting by George Odiwuor.


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