Inside Raila’s plan to fix Nyanza politicians who support Ruto 

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo and Trade and Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary Evans Kidero

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo and Trade and Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary Evans Kidero distribute food in Homa Bay county on May 7, 2023. The two are among those targeted in an onslaught by ODM’s Raila Odinga and his allies in Nyanza. 

Photo credit: George Odiwuor | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has launched a major push-back plan against President William Ruto’s allies seen to be hiding behind church and government development agenda to promote United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in his Nyanza bastion.

The fresh political onslaught is said to be targeting individuals appointed to key government positions by President Ruto as well as rebel Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) lawmakers who have declared support to the Kenya Kwanza administration.

The rollout will include countering relief food distributions in the region by government officials led by ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, Trade Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) Evans Kidero, Roads and Transport CAS Nicholas Gumbo and his Mining and Blue Economy counterpart Fred Outa.

Part of the plan by Mr Odinga includes making frequent visits to the region alongside his brigade to point out how the current administration has sidelined the region. The team is working on a list of projects that were initiated by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta but have since been abandoned by his successor.

The onslaught further seeks to target rebel lawmakers, with plans to start propping up their alternatives. 

The marked politicians include Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Phelix Odiwuor (Lang’ata) and Mark Nyamita (Uriri).

Mr Odinga on Wednesday chaired a meeting for ODM’s Central Management Committee. He has scheduled a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in the course of next week to put in motion the plan. Sources in the meeting told the Sunday Nation that the meeting resolved to fast-track the expulsion of the rebels.

Counter propaganda

ODM chairman John Mbadi confirmed that the party has resolved to begin engaging the people to counter propaganda by UDA members in the region that Mr Odinga was to blame for lack of development.

“A party has to fight for its space. There are these turncoats who want to show that Raila has done nothing. It is our plan as a party to engage the people. Let them do what they are doing but they will soon meet a push-back. I will be leading that push-back in Nyanza,” said Mr Mbadi.

“Nobody is against the distribution of food. But it cannot be done as a political tool to woo our people. There is nobody who tried to politicise food more than Moi. But did he succeed? If Kenya Kwanza wants our people to believe them, let them stand with projects that were started during the Handshake,” he added.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said those who have made a decision to work with Kenya Kwanza have to seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.

“It is only natural that a progressive movement like ODM continuously reins in errant members because, if left unchecked, it may plant seeds of discord within the party. Choices have consequences. Those who have chosen to wine and dine with our opponents must be ready to go the full hog and relinquish their positions,” said Mr Wandayi.

But some of Dr Ruto’s allies in the region hit back, saying they are busy implementing the Kenya Kwanza agenda and therefore have no time for unnecessary duels. 

Dr Kidero and Mr Odoyo Owidi, the chairperson of the board of directors of the Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency, said Mr Odinga and ODM leaders were free to supplement relief food by the government.

“We are not in a political contest with anyone. We are just responding to the needs of the people and they are also free to supplement what the government is doing,” said Dr Kidero.

He told ODM not to take the loyalty of the region for granted, stating they have borne the brunt of natural calamities like floods.

Mr Owidi told Mr Odinga to stop inciting people against leaders working with the current government.