A caucus of ODM MPs from Nyanza has resolved to shelve its political differences as it seeks to consolidate political support in the region ‘in the spirit of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
In the initiative being spearheaded by ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi, the MPs have gone out of their way to embrace Luo leaders, including MPs who were elected on independent tickets, some of who were formally ODM members but fell out with the party.
The initiative is meant to get legislators from the region speak in one voice as they pursue national unity. “Our main focus is to create unity among all Luo leaders irrespective of the parties,” Mr Wandayi said.
As part of the initiative, the group intends to carry on with their unity campaigns in Suna West, Migori County, where ODM lost to the incumbent, Mr Peter Masara, who won the seat on an independent ticket.
The initiative comes hot on the heels of the recent loss of ODM in the Embakasi South and Ugenya by-elections.
But Mr Wandayi denied that it had anything to do with the ODM loss, insisting it was all in the spirit of the handshake.
“Our leader Raila Odinga has charted the political path through the handshake, and it is our duty as his lieutenants to propagate it while rallying behind him without raising questions,” said the Ugunja MP.
Nyando MP Jared Okello, who echoed the sentiments, called on political leaders to be prepared to set aside their personal interests for the sake of the common good.
Kisumu West MP Aluoch Olago (Ford Kenya), who hosted the group over the weekend, however, made it clear that he is firmly in Ford Kenya and that he was only uniting with fellow MPs for the good of the region.
He said the initiative’s intention is to galvanize all Nyanza Luo Nyanza leaders so as to reap maximum benefits from the political inclusivity that has come with the handshake without losing their party identities.
“It is a convergence of common community interests, but I firmly remain in Ford Kenya,” Mr Alucho stated.
Kisumu Woman Representative Rosa Buyu, while supporting the push, urged those in other parties to respect what the handshake stands for.
“We want to be united, but other party leaders must know that they should propagate and stand for everything that the handshake supports. Once they fail to support the fight against corruption, that will be a point of departure,” said Mrs Buyu.
Other lawmakers who attended the church service at St Paul's Kanyakwar Catholic Church in Kisumu West included Dr James Nyikal (Seme), Mr Wandayi (Ugunja), Mr Jared Okello (Nyando) and Mr Onyango K’Oyoo (Muhoroni).
Others were Ms Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Mr Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), Dr James Nyikal (Seme), Mr Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Mr Tom Odege (Nyatike), Siaya Woman Representative Christine Ombaka, nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga and her National Assembly counterpart Jackline Oduol.
Newly elected Ugenya MP David Ochieng, however, denied knowledge of any plans by the group to visit his constituency as alleged.
However, he said Luo leaders have always been united. “I am not aware of any plans to host MPs in my constituency. But what I know [is] we have always been united as Luo MPs from way back,” said Mr Ochieng.