A section of leaders from Nyanza have lashed out at those accusing ODM leader Raila Odinga of killing Opposition politics by his decision to work with President Uhuru Kenyatta, daring them to take up the mantle.
Their statement came even as other affiliates of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) plan to chart their own path to bolster the watchdog role on the government in the wake of the handshake between the President and Mr Odinga.
CHECKS AND BALANCES
Nasa co-ordinating committee co-chairman and Ford Kenya secretary-general, Eseli Simiyu, accused their ODM partners of “joining the government after the handshake and was no longer committed to participate jointly in enhancing checks and balances on the Jubilee government.”
But the more than 12 MPs, who were speaking during a church service in Kisumu yesterday, said there is nowhere in the Constitution that states that leaders from the Luo community must play the role of opposition in the country.
The legislators were attending a church service St Paul's Kanyakwar Catholic Church, Kisumu County, led by the host Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch, Dr James Nyikal (Seme), ODM director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Mr Onyango K’Oyoo (Muhoroni).
Other MPs present were Ms Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Mr Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), Mr Jared Okello (Nyando), Mr Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Mr Tom Odege (Nyatike), Siaya woman representative Dr Christine Ombaka, nominated senator Rose Nyamunga and her National Assembly counterpart Prof Jackline Oduol.
Dr Nyikal, who is the chairman of the Luo Nyanza MPs Caucus, said they had decided to change tack.
“When a lion is hunting, it lies low and hides in the grass before he makes his move to catch the prey. This is what we are doing to bring development to our people,” he said.
Dr Nyikal said there is an effort to demean the handshake and equate it to the 2022 politics. “If we close our eyes to the bigger picture and focus on 2022, then we will lose the plot,” he said.
Mr Okello said the country must stop its assumption that Luo Nyanza must be in the opposition.
“We have been in the opposition for decades and there is nowhere written that we must be in the opposition. We cannot be doing things the same way every electioneering period and expect different results,” he said.
Mr Oluoch of Mathare North, Muhoroni’s K’Oyoo and Nyatike’s Mr Odege said Mr Odinga told them to ‘down their tools’ and build bridges so that Nyanza can witness development just like other regions.
“We can’t live in perpetual isolation. If some people feel the opposition is dead and that Raila has taken their place in government, let them feel free to occupy the vacuum left,” said Mr K’Oyoo.
Suba North’s Odhiambo said Nyanza region had been bearing the brunt of marginalisation, post-election violence and mistreatment.
“We have been the ones on the receiving end; many of us have had their security withdrawn and harassed. Let others also feel the same way,” she said.
Mr Wandayi, who is also the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chairman, and Senator Nyamunga said there were still checks and balances in government through various agencies. “The handshake is all about development, unity peace and equitable allocation of resources. If the cancer of corruption is fought successfully, the funds would be available for development,” Mr Wandayi said.
The leaders, however, raised concern over what they termed as a worrying lull in the fight against corruption. The MPs will be moving round Nyanza to preach about the handshake. Their next stop will be in two weeks’ time in Migori, and will later be hosted by Ugenya MP David Ochieng in Siaya, then Homa Bay, before the final meeting in Kisumu where they will host the ‘Kieleweke team’.