ODM leaders on Friday put President Uhuru Kenyatta on the spot, urging him to carefully choose his successor so his legacy in the fight against corruption is not tainted.
The 2022 succession debate played out at the burial ceremony of Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o's mother even though the President has in the past asked politicians to focus on development for now.
Led by minority leaders John Mbadi (National Assembly) and James Orengo (Senate), the leaders noted that discussions on the President's successor cannot be avoided.
Deputy President William Ruto wants to succeed President Kenyatta when his second and final term ends.
The leaders in the Orange Democratic Movement pledged to support President Kenyatta's handshake with party leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Mbadi, who is ODM's national chairman, said ODM would support "anything progressive" and ensure sustenance of the unity bid as it resulted in peace.
“I am happy that Raila and Uhuru put aside their differences and shook hands in 2018. You would come to this region and nobody would stop you, but the aura ... the love you have received today wasn’t there. That’s the Kenya we need."
But he noted that Kenyans are concerned about rampant corruption and huge debts.
“I want you, Mr President, to think about the legacy you wish to leave behind with regard to who takes over as your successor. [You must ensure] he carries on with efforts against corruption instead of reversing them," he said.
"Pray with me so that you do not leave us someone who is a thief."
Senator Orengo (Siaya) said ODM trusts the two leaders to guide the country into a new dispensation that includes a referendum.
“That is why we support the Building Bridges Initiative. [We want to] ensure peace and stability prevail," he said, also noting that the handshake led to peace.
“How sweet it is that you can share this platform. It was difficult to live in my own town. Now I can sleep,” he said.
Mr Orengo further said the Nyanza region firmly supports the President and the ODM boss.
He, however, criticised Mr Kenyatta's Jubilee Party, saying its members were yet to cooperate yet the President said focus should be on building Kenya, not the next general election.
“You, our commanders, have told us to put our arms down. The [National Super Alliance] brigade has done that. Please ask your troops to also keep quiet so that we can build one Kenya. Otherwise, the journey will be difficult," he said.
He added, “You have said categorically that people should forget about 2022 because you want to build this nation to ensure inclusivity, which is becoming a reality. The agenda we have for 2022 is so substantive that all our energies should be put together. We know you mean well but in politics meaning well is not good enough."
Among those who attended the funeral were Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang'i (Interior), George Magoha (Education), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Sicily Kariuki (Health) and Raphael Tuju (no portfolio).
Others were Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), James Ongwae (Kisii), John Nyagarama (Nyamira) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui).
Prof Kibwana, who spoke on behalf of the Council of Governors (CoG), said Kenyans expect a lot from the peace and development deal that was announced on March 9, 2018.
“You have a loving brother ... we expect a lot from you and your loving brother. There is hope for a future ... Kenya is in good hands,” he said.
Bungoma Senator Wetang'ula (Ford Kenya) said political leaders must dedicate themselves to unity and eradicate vices that result in division.
“May we stand together as a big happy family called Kenya,” he said.
Also present were senators Fred Outa (Kisumu), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), Moses Kajwang' (Homa Bay), George Khaniri (Vihiga), Rose Nyamunga (nominated).
Others were Paul Otuoma (former Funyula MP), Rosa Buyu (Kisumu Woman Representative), James Nyikal (Seme), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central) and Elisha Odhiambo (Gem).