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Namwamba: A hero to some and a traitor to others

Saturday July 16 2016

Budalangi Member of Parliament Ababu Namwamba addresses journalists outside the offices of the German Embassy in Nairobi on July 13, 2016. On July 6, 2016, he quit his post as Orange Democratic Party secretary-general. PHOTO | CHARLES MATHAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Budalangi Member of Parliament Ababu Namwamba addresses journalists outside the offices of the German Embassy in Nairobi on July 13, 2016. On July 6, 2016, he quit his post as Orange Democratic Party secretary-general. PHOTO | CHARLES MATHAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ISAAC ONGIRI
By ISAAC ONGIRI
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His recent flamboyance and newfound generosity have sent tongues wagging since he started his war against ODM leader Raila Odinga.

When he convened a meeting in Busia to announce his intention to resign as the party’s secretary-general, his supporters trooped in in large numbers to lend a hand to their leader seen as a victim of political betrayal by the ODM leadership.

Unlike the previous events by the Budalangi lawmaker, this one held at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology's Budalangi campus, was unique, lightened up with a feast, show of power and money in plenty.

The organisers distributed white T-shirts to the more than 700 delegates attending the event.

Mr Namwamba’s appearance in his constituency and Busia County by extension is now a major centre of attraction with huge crowds milling around to engage him.

A hitherto reserved politician, the MP, who was fished from a fellowship in London to come and contest the Budalangi parliamentary seat during the 2007 General Election, has engaged in one controversy after the other during his near 10 years political life.

But perhaps it is an event in 1997 when the then student leader at the University of Nairobi’s Parklands Campus first showed the controversial side of the future politician.

A meeting called by Sonu leaders to address issues affecting students resolved to disrupt a graduation event that was to be attended by former President Daniel Moi, then the chancellor of all public universities in the country.

The plan was to be executed secretly at dawn but failed terribly after police deployed huge numbers of the General Service Unit officers to the graduation square to the shock of the riot planners.

ROOMS SURROUNDED

All student leaders who participated in the night meeting had their rooms surrounded by police officers, Prof Francis Gichaga, the Vice-Chancellor, having been fully briefed about the plot.

Later the students linked Mr Namwamba to the leakage forcing him to move from his hostel at Parklands due to security concerns.

Mr Namwamba pulled a fast one on Mr Odinga when he recorded a conversation between him and Nakuru East MP Samuel Arama and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed.

He planned to use the recordings as defence against a case that was then building against him and other Public Accounts Committee members.

Earlier, the MP was in his element during the stormy swearing in ceremony of Members of Parliament after the disputed 2007 general election when he rose on a point of order and vehemently opposed the swearing in of President Mwai Kibaki as the Othaya MP.

“Mr Speaker Sir there is absolutely no reason why the Member for Othaya should be sworn in before me,” he argued.

Mr Kibaki’s first name Emilio was falling way after Mr Namwamba’s first name in the order prepared by parliamentary clerks for swearing in.

He would later swear in the name of Raila Amolo Odinga as the President before he was promptly forced to take the oath correctly.

“Every time they differed with Raila he would always remind him that remember. I am the only MP who swore in your name,” said another MP who associated closely with Mr Namwamba.