The once only the other day fabled ODM party is now treading on a slippery path and any unmeasured step could throw it hurtling down the precipice and make it another of those flash in the pan phenomenon. After a stormy parliamentary group and National Executive Council meeting in Nairobi that saw a half strength attendance, even the most optimistic of party loyalists would have had his antennae twitter.
What is making matters even trickier for ODM is the nature of differences that have taken center stage at the party Raila Odinga acquired last year and through sheer scheming mould into the most formidable outfit in the last election. Although everyone thought Raila had by now surmounted all possible political roadblocks and no path ahead of him was un-navigable given his experience, it seems like the tests for Raila become harder with every political exam that he passes.
Those who attended the Safari Park meeting divulged that Raila found himself in unfamiliar territory as hitherto obsequious MPs exhibited the clay they are made of making Raila leave the meeting worried that his goose could be cooked in the not too distant future unless he meets the demands of the recalcitrant MPs. Although the PM knew the meeting would be difficult given the dress rehearsals he had seen performed by the rebels in his party, it is said, he was still hopeful he would somehow browbeat them into submission and was evidently not prepared for what he encountered.
To measure the waters, Raila started by asking the MPs to shelve the idea of a grand opposition but the MPs could hear none of it and the subject was deftly pushed to a later date. The proposed Grand Coalition Bill, according to its architect, Ababu Namwaba who spoke after the meeting would be tabled in parliament as planned whether some quarters liked it or not.
Although according to ODM secretary general Anyang Nyong the matter of forming a grand opposition was unanimously deferred to the next meeting, inside sources those supporting the Bill said the meeting did not agree on anything and that those pushing for it were free to lobby. Half of the about 40 MPs attending the meeting reportedly supported the Bill.
Most of the MPs who did not attend reportedly kept away because they did not agree with Raila on his stand regarding the Bill and also to show their displeasure to Raila’s inability to have the youth arrested on suspicion of perpetrating violence released.
One could tell not all was well in the meeting from the fact that instead of Namwamba who is the party’s parliamentary group secretary reading the statement after the meeting as has been the tradition; it was Nyong’o. a whole minister, who convened the press conference.
And even as Raila grappled with the Bill and amnesty headaches, Rift Valley MPs who make the bulk of ODm boycotted the meeting saying they are not satisfied with the way the cabinet was appointed and a number of weighty issues that they insist must be addressed failure to which it will not be business as usual.
Politically speaking, without the support of Rift-Valley MPs, ODM remains a shell and Raila would be in the risk of losing the PM’s position. Sources close to PM revealed that days before the meeting, Raila through his elder brother and Finance assistant minister Dr Oburu Odinga tried in vain to meet rebel MPs at his treasury office but he MPs demanded to be told the agenda of the meeting first before they could make up their minds as to whether they would attend. Some MPs allegedly told Oburu that they were ready to meet the PM as Rift Valley MPs and not individually.
Unconfirmed reports say Raila had earlier before the meeting tried in vain to get Namwamba on phone but the Budalangi MP who during the parliamentary swearing in ceremony swore his allegiance to ‘president’ Raila Odinga acted busy. It is not known what Raila was up to but it is believed he wanted to have a one-on-one with Namwamba with the express purpose of having him drop the bill.
There seems like nothing is going to stop Namwamba whose political stature has grown by leaps and bounds in the last four months no little thanks to the controversial but popular stand on the formation of opposition. He has even gone as far as suggest that those opposed to the formation of opposition are having one foot in government and the other out of it and are so they want a vacuum to remain in opposition benches whereby they plan to jump at the opportune time once they have wrecked the government as their plan is and pretend to be the protectors of Kenyans against bad governance.
This lot, Namwamba said, is now afraid that if the opposition is formed at this early hour when they still want to eat in government, they will jump ship too late when the opposition will by then have wenyewe.
RV MPs on their part are now loudly wondering why Raila has failed to act on the arrested youths while he was quick to ask the government to open discussions with members of the outlawed Mungiki sect. What remains to be seen is how Raila whom many were starting to see as another professor of politics will tame rebel ODM MPs.
This more so when sources say a number of Luo MPs are secretly pushing for the formation of Grand Opposition as way of showing their disappointment on the cabinet appointment. Although the entire backbench from Luo Nyanza had appended their signatures in support of the opposition, they hastily pulled out the day Raila said he was opposed to the formation of grand opposition. It came as a big surprise that a good number of Luo MPs were conspicuously missing at the all important Safari Park meeting and the few who attended either came too late or left too early.