Raila's ODM party makes peace with Obado

A combination of pictures of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Outwitted in its bid to oust the governor, the party now seeks to calm tensions in South Nyanza by bringing together all the local leaders. 
  • For months, the governor was on a razor edge as ODM plotted his ouster. However, the impeachment drive could now be halted with help said to have come from Mr Odinga’s family.

After several fights with Migori Governor Okoth Obado, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has chosen to make peace with the shrewd politician.

Outwitted in its bid to oust the governor, the party now seeks to calm tensions in South Nyanza by bringing together all the local leaders.

Chungwa House has summoned its 41 ward representatives in Migori to a meeting in Nairobi this Thursday, aimed at reconciling the warring factions in the assembly.

The meeting comes barely a week after Mr Obado ignored another because “the notice was too short”.

ODM National Chairman John Mbadi told the Nation that they had expected to discuss “a lot of issues, including reconciliation as suggested by the party leader”.

“We will be meeting with all the MCAs on Thursday for updates on what we agreed upon,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told the Nation, adding that MCAs will have the final word on the impeachment motion.

The Nation has, however, established that the ward reps could be implored upon to abandon the drive “to enhance harmony in the county”, which would leave the party with egg on its face.

"Graft baggage"

The party and its leader, Raila Odinga, had been accused of flip-flopping on the multibillion-shilling Kemsa scandal and the reconciliation could raise queries on ODM’s stand on graft.

Political analyst Dismas Mokua argues that ODM’s anti-corruption credentials “are now sliding south.”

“Raila will carry the graft baggage because of the handshake and his appetite of using the anti-corruption crusade as a political tool,” said Mr Mokua, adding that the Orange boss “has a high appetite for inflicting both pleasure and pain on political allies and foes”.

“It seems that Raila has inflicted sufficient pain on Obado to make him toe the line. The pain has made him dance to ODM drumbeats and this serves as a lesson to any other folks who want to drive out of Raila’s lane. Obado now appreciates the fact that life outside the ODM canopy is as good as kissing lions in the wild,” he added.

Intervention

For months, the governor was on a razor edge as ODM plotted his ouster. However, the impeachment drive could now be halted with help said to have come from Mr Odinga’s family.

Party sources earlier told the Nation that the intervention of Ida Odinga and Dr Oburu Oginga will likely save Mr Obado’s job.

The two reportedly brokered a truce between the governor and Chungwa House.

The governor had been invited to Chungwa House Thursday last Week for talks in what insiders said would mark the end of his ouster motion sanctioned by the party after meeting Migori MCAs at Gracia Gardens Hotel in Nairobi early last Month.

“I received communication from the governor that he was unable to make it and he requested that we reschedule. We will however, meet the MCAs on Thursday” Mr Sifuna said.

Mr Obado told the Nation that he received a short notice for the meeting last Week but confirmed that he had communicated with the party and requested for another date.

“It is true I was invited by the party. Though it was a short notice, I committed to honour it. So I communicated with the party and agreed to have the meeting at a date to be communicated,” Mr Obado told the Nation on the phone.

Allegiance

The governor said he recognises dialogue as “the only way for better management of government affairs”.

“This should not be viewed as an act of defiance. The invite was a bit urgent when I had other engagements but I have addressed this with then party,” added Mr Obado.

He said he remains a staunch ODM member and is committed to rally the county behind Mr Odinga despite other internal wrangles within the county.

“Migori is the bedrock of ODM and nobody should try to antagonise me with the party. Internal wars are however, everywhere but we commit to address them. We want Jakom (Mr Odinga) to fight big wars and we are committed to help him in that. For the local battles, we will sort them out ourselves,” said the governor.

He pointed out that sibling rivalry was everywhere including Migori County but added that as local leaders, they will address them amicably without having a ripple effect on Mr Odinga’s ambitions.

ODM, which had recommended Mr Obado's impeachment after a court barred him from accessing his office over graft allegations, could be softening its stand after Mr Odinga, the party leader, last Week hinted at a possible reconciliation.

At a funeral in Awendo last weekend, Mr Sifuna said the governor himself reached out to the party saying it was possible for him to address our concerns regarding service delivery to the people of Migori now that he has been barred from office.

“We have acceded to his request and want to hear his plan for this including how he will facilitate harmonious working of his deputy and his cabinet and also with the assembly,” he reiterated on Sunday.

Bondo meeting

Mr Odinga had promised to quell political tensions in Migori following an impeachment move that polarised the county.

Sources close to Governor Obado said his meeting with the party’s top leadership was hatched during one at Kang’o Kajaramogi in Bondo town, where Mr Odinga hosted a delegation of Kikuyu elders.

The meeting also comes as the party softens its stand on the impeachment bid it initiated after the governor and his four children were charged with corruption.

The change of political tone later saw Governor Obado attend the meeting at Mr Odinga’s Bondo home where he was warmly received and even got a chance to address the Kikuyu delegation.

Mr Obado could yet again dodge the bullet.

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