Raila: ODM will outlive me

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Saturday said Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party will be able to outlive his reign as the party leader, especially now that he is eyeing the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson post.

Mr Odinga underscored that unity amongst officials and elected leaders of the party is key. He was speaking during the installation of the Ogayi (coordinator of the Luo Council of Elders) in Seme of Suna East, Migori County, hosted by area legistaltor Junet Mohamed, a key Odinga confidante.

During the event, he invited deputy party leaders Hassan Joho (former Mombasa governor), and Wycliffe Oparanya (former Kakamega governor) as well as Kisoi governor Simba Arati to the podium and raised their hands, saying they were qualified to take care of ODM when he is busy with matters AUC.

“ODM should live beyond Baba (Mr Odinga). We must work together. Don’t bring a wedge between these people. If you see Joho, Oparanya or Simba then you have seen Baba,” Mr Odinga remarked. The ODM boss stressed that the trio have been steadfast in the party and that he had no doubt in their abilities.

A strong ODM, he added, will only come through the unity of its leaders.

But a minute did not elapse before Embakasi East MP Babu Owino jumped onto the stage and had his hands raised as well. The second-term lawmaker has, in several occasions, waded in on the ensuing Raila succession debate, fronting himself as the best and most popular option.

Speaking at the event, Dr Owino heaped praise on Raila, urging him not to tire giving them direction even if he will be in Addis Ababa as the AUC chairman.

Mr Odinga, he said figuratively, is the tree from which every one of them draws their strength. He added that ODM is a mammoth party that cannot be taken care of by just three ‘cardinals’ – Oparanya, Joho and Arati.

“You will still be our father even while in AU. ODM cannot be taken care of by three cardinals alone. I will add myself as the fourth cardinal,” said Mr Owino.

He called on the descendants of Ramogi (Luos) to unite and only fight as a united people.

The lawmaker has been meeting various delegations including student leaders and has even made an impromptu visit to Kisumu, that has been termed Mr Odinga’s political bedroom.

Other leaders present would also, moments later, join the four politicians on stage for a dance. Mr Oparanya cautioned that Mr Odinga is irreplaceable.

“There is no other leader. Don’t imagine you can replace Raila Amolo Odinga,” Mr Oparanya said, urging Junet to weed out elements of the ruling United Democratic Alliance in Migori.

Mr Joho confessed that he is a Mr Odinga loyalist who honours directions given by the opposition chief only, stressing the importance of unity as the party approaches the 2027 election.

Mr Arati called on Mr Joho and Mr Oparanya not to pull apart but act together achieve the dreams and aspirations of ODM.

“As the deputy national vice chairman of ODM, I am ready to stand with my sisters and brothers. Joho and Oparanya. Let us strengthen our party if we are to earn respect in the end because we will be despised if we split,” said Mr Arati.

Meanwhile, Mr Odinga condemned the political violence in various parts of the country. He averred that elected leaders who are currently entangled in feuds should instead serve the people in their current positions instead of revealing their ambitions three years ahead of 2027.

He was particularly infuriated by a clash pitting Migori County Governor Ochilo Ayacko against Uriiri MP Mark Nyamita at a funeral in Migori, leading to teargasing of the occasion.

Mr Nyamita is one of the nine ODM MPs who visited President Ruto, causing outrage in opposition circles.

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