Leadership wrongles Looms in ODM ahead of Raila’s AU top Job

Allies of ODM leader Raila Odinga from Western Kenya want former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to takeover the mantle of leadership of the Orange party should the former get elected as the Chairman of the African Union Commission.

Mr Oparanya is the current ODM Deputy Leader and the region feels the succession plan should be in his favour as a sign of reward for religiously supporting Mr Odinga.

Led by Vihiga Senator Mr Godfrey Osotsi, the leaders said Mr Oparanya has stood with Mr Odinga over time even after other lieutenants from the vote-rich region abandoned him.

Mr Osotsi, while speaking in Vihiga County during the official opening of five offices as launch of mass membership recruitment and validation, said Mr Oparanya has been Mr Odinga’s loyal supporter, hence the need to reward him.

The push is coming at a time when Nyanza region that is ODM’s bedrock is embroiled in the search for Mr Odinga’s heir.

Nyanza region is torn between ODM National Chairman and Nominated MP Mr John Mbadi and National Assembly Minority Leader Mr Opiyo Wandayi to succeed Mr Odinga.

But Mr Osotsi, who was accompanied by Mr Oparanya during the events in Vihiga County, said it is time the Nyanza region considered Western Kenya to lead the party.

Several other politicians, including MCAs elected through ODM in Vihiga and Kakamega counties attended the Vihiga events and expressed support and solidarity with Mr Oparanya as the best placed to succeed Mr Odinga.

“Baba (in reference to Mr Odinga) will be elected as the Chairman of the African Union Commission. Should that happen, and I know it will, Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya is the best placed to lead the party,” said Mr Osotsi.

And added: “When other leaders like (Prime CS) Musalia Mudavadi and (National Assembly Speaker) Moses Wetang’ula abandoned Baba, Oparanya stuck with him.”

Senator Osotsi said Mr Oparanya has shown leadership skills after “going through a lot with Mr Odinga”, hence the need to reward him.

At a recent event in Homa Bay County, Mrs Ida Odinga – the wife of Mr Odinga – said Mr Mbadi is best placed to succeed her husband.

On the other hand, Siaya Senator and Mr Odinga’s elder brother Dr Oburu Oginga named Mr Wandayi as the best heir.

But Rarieda MP Mr Otiende Amollo said a heir is not named but emerges from the rest of the team.

In Vihiga County, Mr Osotsi said he is the only elected ODM Senator from the region affirming that he is speaking with authority on the ODM succession plan.

He noted that ODM will not be weakened should Mr Odinga proceed to Addis Ababa, the headquarters of the African Union.

“Oparanya and the rest of us are here and will keep ODM alive. Our party will not die as some people are alleging,” said Mr Osotsi.

And added: “If anything, Baba is not exiting the political space. While Oparanya will take over the mantle of leadership in the party, Baba will regularly fly to Kenya in one and a half hours to lead us and give directions.”

Mr Oparanya steered clear of the succession plan and instead announce the party will start conducting its elections from April.

He encouraged women and youth to express interest in various leadership slots and not just leave them to be dominated by men.

He also said the Kenya Kwanza regime has failed to honour the 30 per cent it pledged to give Western Kenya through appointments and development projects.

He told the region this would have been different if Azimio had taken over the mantle of leadership.

“The 30 per cent has not been honoured and instead it is only Musalia who was rewarded with a plum cabinet post that is not helping the region. There are no development projects to be seen,” said Mr Oparanya.