ODM is bigger than me, Raila Odinga says as he prepares troops for possible exit

Raila Odinga

ODM party leader Raila Odinga addresses the gathering during the Party's National Governing Council(NGC) 2024 at Bomas of Kenya on April 18, 2024.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday declared that the party is bigger than him and is about Kenyans as he moved to prepare his troops for his possible exit should he win the chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC) in next year's elections.

Speaking during the party's National Governing Council (NGC) meeting at the Bomas of Kenya, where delegates made various amendments to the party's constitution to strengthen its governance, Mr Odinga said, "I won't be in the leadership forever but ODM must live on."

"We agree that we need a band of young men and women to align the party with the changing interests of Kenyans, with a particular focus on economic empowerment.

"Most importantly, we need a team whose sole focus is to take this party to power. ODM must govern. The party must govern," said Mr Odinga.

He said, "ODM must move forward. ODM needs a new army of committed and fearless men and women who can envision a more powerful mass political movement at a time when many of our people are disillusioned with political parties because of unfulfilled campaign promises."

Mr Odinga said he would not be in the leadership forever, adding that the party must live on, drawing a comparison with Tanzania's Chama Cha Mapinduzi.

"When Nyerere left CCM, the party lived on. From Nyerere to Mwinyi, Mkapa, Kikwete, my friend Magufuli and now Mama Samia Suluhu, CCM remains strong and that's what we want ODM to emulate," the ODM leader said.

The ODM National Governing Council (NGC), the party's second highest organ, has recommended that Article 61 of the party's constitution be amended to replace the National Elections Board (NEB) with the new-look three-member National Elections Coordinating Committee (NECC).

The NECC will now be chaired by Ms Emily Awita with Mr Richard Tairo and Ms Beatrice Askul as members.

They were sworn in at the event in Bomas yesterday.

"The Council also resolved to amend Article 53 of its Constitution to include the Secretary for Political Affairs in the Central Committee with additional functions of oversight and dispute resolution."

The Secretary for Political Affairs, Mr Opiyo Wandayi, will now deal with all political matters including but not limited to identifying, analysing and monitoring political developments and emerging issues in relation to the implementation of the party's programmes.

Raila Odinga at ODM's National Governing Council (NGC) meeting

Raila Odinga joined by other ODM leaders at the party's National Governing Council (NGC) meeting at Bomas in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool

The office will also conduct impact assessments and make recommendations to the Central Committee on possible strategies, policies and other measures to address issues of concern and advance the party's policy objectives.

It will also be tasked with developing and maintaining collaborative relationships with the private sector, political and community leaders, civil society actors and other national and international partners on policy matters, as well as conducting assessments of the relative popularity of party members to assist the party in identifying and selecting the right people to field as candidates in national elections.

Mr Odinga was joined at the council by the party's top leadership, including deputy leaders Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya, secretary general Edwin Sifuna and treasurer Timothy Bosire.

The NGC consists of all members of the National Executive Committee, all County Coordinating Committee Chairpersons, all Branch Executive Committee Chairpersons, all members of the Party's Parliamentary Group, all members of the Party's Council of Governors and all members of the National Electoral Commission.

Others are; all majority or minority chairpersons of county assemblies, all chairpersons of party standing committees, all ODM Women League national officials, all ODM Youth League national officials and all ODM Disabled League national officials.

"We must prepare this party to deliver on the big visions we have for this country, which have been delivered in bits and pieces. So today I call on our people to stop mourning and start organising. Stop mourning and start mobilising. Stay strong and start moving forward and we move forward together as one," Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga also lashed out at President Ruto's ruling party.

"We know the huge damage the ruling party is doing to the country.  We have to start refining our alternative and renewing our politics," he said.

Kenya Kwanza, he said, must realise that ODM will not allow the reforms it fought for to be taken away.

"This is one of the running battles that the new office must prepare to go to war with the government. It is therefore important that as we go through these exercises, we remain clear on who the enemy is and what the battle will be like," Mr Odinga added.

He said the party's planned elections from April 27 should give members an opportunity to revitalise the party.

"I wish all those who have shown interest in the various positions well, especially at the grassroots where our party draws its strength. As I have said before, this is and must be a friendly contest. It must unite the party, not divide it. It must strengthen the party, not weaken it. It must be fought on the platforms of ODM policies, ideology and beliefs, not tribe, race, gender, religion or region," Mr Odinga said.

He warned that the party will deal sternly with those who resort to playing tribal, gender, regional, religious or racial cards and character assassination to secure leadership.

"We have painstakingly built this party into a truly national liberation mass movement. It is too late and futile to try to turn it into a tribal or regional outfit. All our actions and utterances must reflect this reality. 

"I particularly appeal to and encourage women to take up leadership positions. I promise to protect and defend their right to leadership. The gender agenda must start here in the party".