Cord leader Raila Odinga has embarked on a discreet but powerful charm offensive to consolidate his support across the country and rectify mistakes that derailed his last two presidential bids, Sunday Nation can reveal.Mr Odinga’s efforts are mainly concentrated on the registration of voters in his strongholds and the re-drafting of ODM nomination rules to seal avenues for rigging, which largely contributed to the party’s dismal performance in some of its strongholds like Nyanza and western.
The opposition leader is also going out of his way to mend fences with some party MPs who had broken ranks. This is aimed at avoiding unnecessary divisions ahead of 2017.
Mr Odinga is also engaging with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to ensure that his strongholds are not segregated against during the ongoing voter registration.
The party’s national chairman and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said Mr Odinga is keen on getting it right this time round.
“What we are doing is to organise our party early enough because during the last elections, one of our main undoings was doing things at the very last minute and that is why we had a lot of defections, and that really messed us up.
“We are trying to avoid a repeat of that situation and that is why our nominations will be done six months before the elections so that those who lose and are not committed to the party can look elsewhere,” he noted.
To ensure there is a high voter turnout in his strongholds, all party MPs and grassroots leaders are under instructions to lead voter registration campaigns in their areas. This entails ensuring that all youth who have attained the age of 18 apply for national identity cards and register as voters.
Last week, Mr Odinga summoned ODM Secretary-General Ababu Namwamba to his Capitol Hill offices and directed him to take charge of the voter registration in ODM strongholds and ensure that it is done in a structured way.
Separately, Mr Odinga held a meeting with IEBC chairman Issack Hassan and protested about alleged skewed issuing of identity cards and voter registration. He expressed concern that IEBC has largely succumbed to the Executive, which controls the dosage and quota on registration while the electoral body seems unable to assert its mandate of continuous registration of voters. He also complained about the shoddy compilation of the voters’ register.
“Tinga (Mr Odinga) is more concerned about having a credible election and that is why he is encouraging Kenyans, not just in our strongholds but across the country, to register as voters. He also wants an electoral body which can conduct free and fair elections,” ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed said.
“He is not concerned so much about whether he will win or lose. His main concern is a credible election for posterity,” he added.
Mr Odinga’s resolve to avoid the pitfalls that led to his defeat in 2013 came out clearly during his three-hour meeting with Mr Namwamba last week.
The Cord leader impressed on the Budalang’i MP the need to improve the leadership and performance of ODM and, by extension, Cord in Parliament and exploit the mistakes being made by the Jubilee Alliance.
Mr Odinga instructed Mr Namwamba to take full charge of the party headquarters and lead the party to the battlefield in readiness for 2017.
Mr Namwamba is one of the key party leaders seen to be wavering in their support for Mr Odinga. And there are murmurs that he may be preparing to lead a section of Western MPs out of the party.
Mr Odinga’s meeting with Mr Namwamba came only a day after Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi held a breakfast meeting with Funyula MP Paul Otuoma and former minister Fred Gumo, two key ODM pillars in western Kenya.
And commenting on the meeting, Mr Namwamba congratulated Mr Mudavadi for reaching out to other western leaders.
Conscious of the political undercurrents in western Kenya, one of his main strongholds, Mr Odinga used the meeting with Mr Namwamba to discuss ways of consolidating the party’s support in the region.
Source: Daily Nation