Turmoil in ODM party as youthful politicians challenge the old guard

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina (left) and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino arrive for the Azimio PG meeting held at Stoni Athi Resort, Machakos County on September 16, 2022. The two leaders claimed betrayal of young people by top party officials when rewarding positions.
 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The latest implosion in the party has been triggered by a dispute over House leadership positions and the pending sharing of committee slots in both the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • MP Babu Owino and Senator Ledama ole Kina claimed betrayal of young people by top party officials when rewarding positions.
  • The leadership said some of the so-called Young Turks were major beneficiaries of the ODM direct ticket that swept them to Parliament.

A political showdown looms in Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as youthful politicians take on the old guards in an attempt to wrestle control of the 17-year-old outfit.

The latest implosion in the party has been triggered by a dispute over House leadership positions and the pending sharing of committee slots in both the National Assembly and the Senate.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino and Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina yesterday claimed betrayal of young people by top party officials when rewarding positions.

Yesterday, Mr Ole Kina told the Saturday Nation that he has been fighting for Mr Odinga but no one recognises his efforts while claiming that ODM, which is a national party, is now being managed as a Nyanza and Western political outfit.

“Everyone knows what I have done for ODM and it is about time I am recognised for my sacrifices. I nearly died fighting for Raila. If that is not worth anything then let me be told,” said Mr Ole Kina.

“Enough of always being kept in arms away while others chill in their cribs and are rewarded with the lion’s share of party positions,” he added.

Betrayal accusations

Mr Owino accused ODM of betraying the youthful MPs despite serving the party diligently.

“ODM party, so many youth and myself sacrificed a lot and used our resources in the party over the years, our pay is betrayal and blackmail. It is okay, tomorrow is another day,” Mr Owino said.

Mr Owino further claimed that he had been promised the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman. But was shocked when the party fronted ODM chairman John Mbadi, who was nominated to Parliament.

“Why should Mr Mbadi come down from the position of Majority Leader to PAC chair which was reserved for me? This will not happen! Over my dead body. Young people must get their space. It is now or never. He has been rewarded through nomination,” Mr Owino said.

But the party leadership yesterday downplayed the disagreement as normal jostling in any serious political outfit while assuring members that all will get placement in House committees.

The leadership said some of the so-called Young Turks were major beneficiaries of the ODM direct ticket that swept them to Parliament.

Mr Mbadi and the proposed National Assembly Majority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said those angling to chair various parliamentary committees should wait for placement before they can start lobbying to be voted.

“People should be procedural and responsible in the claims they make. You cannot claim that a member has been allocated committee chairman when you know that those positions are elective. Members of each committee will elect their chair,” said Mr Mbadi.

“If any of them want to be chair of whatever committee, let them ask their party to make them members then they can proceed to contest for the positions. I don’t think anyone has been allocated any position. Even myself I was lobbying for House Majority Leader because I have the capacity, but nobody promised me that position,” added Mr Mbadi.

He observed that some of the people making the loudest noise have “no capacity to run those positions ”.

This came as Mr Wandayi promised Azimio lawmakers that their interests will be taken care of while populating the House committees.

Mr Wandayi said he had since told the members to submit at least four committees they want to belong to in the order of preference to the leadership for review and the final decision.

“The Azimio House leadership will endeavour to accommodate the interest of all members when undertaking committee placement. There is no cause for alarm because what is happening is the usual jostling for committee placement,” he said.

"Insincere"

Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang’ and Muhoroni MP Onyango K’Oyoo said it was insincere for some of the members to make claims of betrayal.

The leaders said some of the members are in Parliament courtesy of direct tickets handed to them by the party in the run-up to the August 9 polls.

“The ones crying the loudest are actually the major beneficiaries of the ODM wave and direct ticket that made them join Parliament. Some of them are basically selfish because I don’t think getting House leadership is of any benefit to the constituents. The so-called Young Turks are in Parliament because some of them were given direct tickets,” said Mr Kajwang’.

In the recently released House leadership line-up, Azimio named Mr Wandayi (ODM) as its Majority Leader in the National Assembly, with Kathiani MP Robert Mbui (Wiper) as his deputy.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed (ODM) was named as Chief Whip, with nominated MP Sabina Chege (Jubilee) taking up the deputy whip slot.

In the Senate, Azimio picked Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo (ODM) as the Minority Leader, with Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua (Wiper) as the deputy. Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dhulo (Jubilee) has been picked as the Senate Minority Whip and will be deputised by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna (ODM).

In an interview with the Nation yesterday, Mr Owino said the time has come in ODM where those who worked hard for Mr Odinga during the campaigns to be rewarded, citing the April incident where Azimio boss’ chopper was pelted in Soy, Uasin Gishu County.

The second term Embakasi MP alleged that Mr Mbadi after failing to secure the Majority Leader post threatened Mr Odinga that he would resign from the party in case he is not rewarded with PAC chairmanship, something which made him be sacrificed.

“Azimio MPs proposed that I be given the PAC chairmanship for the work I did for Baba during the campaigns. It was time to reward loyalists but when Mbadi failed to land Majority Leader, he threatened Baba that if he was not given PAC chairmanship, he was going to quit. Baba then decided to give him without me being consulted. Remember Mbadi has gotten favours like the party chairmanship and his nomination to Parliament,” said Mr Owino.

He said that Dr Ruto is empowering youthful leaders in his coalition, in reference to the appointment of Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa as the National Assembly Majority Leader deputised by Owen Baya (Kilifi North) and South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro taking up the Majority Whip and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot as the Senate Majority Leader.

With Mr Odinga having called for a crisis meeting next week, Mr Owino said they will use the opportunity to express the interests of the youths to salvage the situation.

“As youthful leaders in Azimio, we feel that we are not being appreciated. We are being taken for granted but in Kenya Kwanza, our colleagues are being given positions. We are going to talk and express the interests of the youth,” he said.

Mr Mbadi refuted the claims that he wanted to resign, saying he was asked to shelve his gubernatorial ambition and did not exit the party.

“Raila is not someone who can be threatened. Let Babu not drag other people’s names in his frustrations. If I want to resign, I just do it without threatening anyone,” he posed.

Mr Mbadi said he has not been betrayed in the party but described what happened to him as “unfair treatment” while arguing that they expected a lot in case they formed a government and since they did not, there are very few slots to share.

He added: “The fact that you have not been treated fairly or you needed some position and you did not get it, does not amount to betrayal. The people who sometimes claim to be loyal, are the ones who are sometimes very disloyal to this party.”

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero yesterday supported the move by Mr Owino and Senator Ole Kina.

“Let’s understand where Babu Owino is coming from. ODM is what it is because of the youth majority membership. Zeal and passion for party support. Yet, when bread is being shared nobody thinks of them. It’s not just what has happened in the choice of parliamentary leadership but even in nominations to the county assembly,” Dr Kidero said.

“ODM is a personal property and a commercial asset which the owners use to maximise financial returns and optimise their wealth creation,” he added.

Saboti MP Caleb Amisi said most young MPs in Azimio feel that no one is out to empower them the way Dr Ruto is doing noting that those being given positions are the ones who made Mr Odinga lose.

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