The rift in opposition Chief Raila Odinga’s Orange party continues to widen after it emerged that the party may not hold its grassroots and national elections until after the 2022 polls.
Deputy Party leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the party had shelved its elections due to insufficient time for preparations.
Oparanya cited that the move to shelve the plans of conducting the grassroots elections had been taken due to fear of a fallout in the party ahead of a crucial general election.
But his sentiments were in a rejoinder dismissed the party’s Secretary General Edwin Sifuna as personal opinion since the party organ that makes such decision had not met.
“The ODM National Steering Committee met recently and decided to postpone the party grassroots and national elections until later next year so that we can divert all our arsenal in strengthening and popularizing the party countrywide as we prepare for the General Election,” he said.
The governor was speaking at the county executive offices after a meeting with the six ODM MCAs from Vihiga County.
However, Sifuna said that the ODM party is democratic and allows its members to speak freely and make their own opinions and suggestions, adding that Oparanya’s statement is his personal views.
“You know that the party has its organ that makes such decision. As far as am concerned the National Executive Committee (NEC) has not met to make such decision,” said Sifuna.
Oparanya argued that party elections is likely to lead to a fallout and divisions that would weaken it ahead of the general elections next year August.
“We will not have time for damage control in the event of fallouts arising from the outcome of the polls because the general elections are just around the corner,” said Oparanya.
Oparanya pointed out that ODM had resolved to use harmonization method to fill vacant positions in the party.
He added: “The party cannot risk going to the next general election a divided house as it would lead to defeat. Holding elections this year could destroy the party.”
“The committee agreed to use harmonization method to fill vacant positions at the branch level therefore regions with such vacancies should will be advised on when to start filling the positions,” he said.
Oparanya said he has an elaborate plans to strengthen and popularize ODM in Kakamega County and entire Western region.
“The party did not perform very well in the last elections because we were sharing seats under the NASA agreement. This is not going to be the same next year,” he added.
He stated that he was going to work with governors, MPs and MCAs from the party to restore its glory in the region.
“This week we will have a meeting with Vihiga Governor Wilbur Ottichilo and ODM leaders from the county to chart the way forward on revitalizing the party,” he said.
Oparanya who has been linked to making overtures towards Deputy President William Ruto associated with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, downplayed the wrangles in ODM over BBI adding that it’s still strong.
Last week the ODM removed Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo from the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) in what was termed as cracking the whip on dissenting voices over BBI.
Otiende and Senate Minority leader James Orengo (Siaya) had been earmarked for chopping following their hardline stand on the BBI which has since been passed by the National Assembly awaiting Senate.
In an apparent reference to the turmoil being witnessed in ODM, Orengo said Kenya is a very democratic country and he will continue speaking his mind.
““I can never be intimidated in my political life. I’ve seen many people come and go. I’ve seen many powerful people come and go. I have seen presidents come here and go. I have seen people who on their word, you’d leave this House and be locked in the same day, they’ve come and gone. If my day comes, I will accept it, but my conscience, the way I was brought up I can never sell it, I would never,” said Orengo.
While insisting that he had stepped up his campaigns to capture the Orange party’s presidential ticket, Oparanya was categorical that his manifesto for Presidency was ready and that he was confident of clinching the party’s ticket.
“Once Covid-19 infection rates goes down, I will traverse the entire country meeting our party delegates to seek their support for my bid,” he said.
Already the party’s National Elections Board (NEB) has released the guidelines for the grassroot elections and its primaries.