Uncertainty clouds the return of ODM leader Raila Odinga’s from Dubai where he underwent a back surgery about a fortnight ago.
By Saturday evening, there were conflicting information on when he would be returning in the country.
Whereas a close family member revealed that Mr Odinga is set to land in today, the party’s director of elections Junet Mohamed, who together with deputy party leader Hassan Joho, are with him in Dubai, told the Sunday Nation that they will return on Wednesday.
“He is set to come back this weekend,” the family source told Sunday Nation but was non-committal on which day.
Mr Mohamed, who had earlier revealed that Mr Odinga would return after a week, Saturday said they will come back on Wednesday.
“We are not coming tomorrow (Sunday) but Wednesday. He is doing well. Out of hospital and at the hotel. We have been out several times for lunch and dinner,” Mr Mohamed said.
The Orange party chairman John Mbadi told the Sunday Nation that he is still not aware of the exact date when Mr Odinga will return but said anytime this week.
“He might not come back today (Sunday) as reported but any day next week. The most important thing is his recovery which is going on well,” Mr Mbadi said.
He added due to coronavirus pandemic, there might be no grand welcoming of the former prime minister by his supporters who have missed his presence.
“Baba would have been welcomed by his supporters, but I don’t think that will be the case. To me the important thing is that the surgery went on well and he is recovering well at least by the reports that we have heard far seen,” Mr Mbadi said.
Speaking from Dubai on Saturday, Mr Joho said the former prime minister had made remarkable recovery.
“We’re happy to be with the party leader and happy to have him back on his feet for the work ahead,” he said.
Mr Odinga’s elder brother and confidant Dr Oburu Oginga said he will need some rest once he returns and would not be in a hurry to resume the rigorous BBI political process.
“He is well and ready to come back but will not indulge in the rigorous BBI political process. He will need some rest for some time,” Dr Oginga told Sunday Nation when asked whether the ODM leader will receive the BBI report soon.
It also turned out that on his return, Mr Odinga will observe a 14 day self-isolation, during which he will not receive any visitors in keeping with the regulations from the Health ministry to curb the spread of Covid-19.
When the House resume its sittings on July 28, Mr Mohamed pointed out that there should be no cause for alarm on the BBI drive pointing out that Mr Odinga’s absence would not delay the process.
“If the President is available BBI can continue. It cannot delay because it is also the President’s project,” said Mr Mohamed.
He said Mr Odinga will follow his own diary. “We shall cross that bridge when the report is officially out,” Mr Mohamed said when asked whether the BBI proponents would meet the timelines for its implementation with the current pandemic. On Mr Odinga’s message to Kenyans, Mr Mohamed quipped: “He says all shall be well and we shall overcome these difficult times we are going through.”
Upon receiving and making the report public, Mr Odinga together with President Kenyatta are supposed to give clear guidelines to their troops in Parliament on the road of its implementation especially areas that will require parliamentary legislations.
The National Assembly through Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) has already published the referendum bill that is supposed to guide the conduct of such a poll. The bill is set to undergo second reading
But even as the BBI debate rages on despite Mr Odinga’s illness, Senate minority leader James Orengo, a confidant of the ODM leader, led other legislators in drumming up support for the initiative during a funeral in Homa Bay County Friday.
Mr Orengo, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, assured Kenyans that the report only contains changes on issues that were affecting Kenyans such as electoral injustice.
Mr Orengo assured Kenyans to prepare for positive constitutional changes.
“Politicians who are opposing BBI should stop spreading falsehoods on the contents of the report,” he said.
Speaking on Friday during the burial of the Kenya Chemical Workers Union secretary-general Were Ogutu in Karachuonyo constituency, Mr Orengo said implementation of the report through constitutional reforms will be done without considering the interest of an individual.
Additional reporting by Justus Wanga and Samuel Owino