Inside Politics

Mbadi: Why I’m quitting ODM

Thursday, February 9th, 2023 05:20 | By
Nominated MP John Mbadi at a past rally PHOTO/Courtesy

The fallout within the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) deepened yesterday after long-serving chairman John Mbadi declared he was stepping down.

In an interview with People Daily, Mbadi cited frustrations from unnamed top party officials. “I think this issue is now concluded. People have asked me about my stand as the chairman and I restate that it is my time to leave,” he said.

He promised to relay his decision to party leader Raila Odinga. Without delving into details, he accused a clique of people in the Orange party of pushing for his ouster. “I have been under intense pressure on social media from some party mandarins. Let me pave way for them,” he said.

He cited the party’s promise to retain him as the Minority Leader in the National Assembly, a position which was instead handed to Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, as part of the campaign to undermine him.

No reinstatement letter

He also narrated how the party removed him from the national campaign stage and tasked him to lead Azimio campaigns in Nyanza region. “I have not received any letter elevating me back to the national political discourse,” he said, explaining why he had stayed away from rallies called by Raila to pile pressure on the Ruto government.

The outspoken MP said Raila was aware of his decision to step down from the party chairmanship. But ODM Secretary General and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna declined to comment on the matter. “He hasn’t spoken to me so I can’t comment,” said Sifuna in a text message from Dubai.

Mbadi’s move came a day after nine ODM lawmakers from Raila’s Nyanza backyard met President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at State House, Nairobi, and declared their readiness to work with the government. 

The MPs include Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East, independent), Felix Odiwour alias Jalang’o (Langata), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Walter Owino (Awendo) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda. They said they were focused on service delivery and asked other leaders from the region to shun divisive politics.

“The leaders explored mechanisms of working together to address national and county issues,” reads a dispatch from State House on the meeting. President Ruto said: “Elections are over; we do not want a polarised country. We will work for all Kenyans irrespective of political affiliations” .

The MPs, on their part, thanked the President for his visit to Nyanza, adding that the constituents were interested in service delivery; not unending politicking.

The visit sparked a furious response from the party, which accused the MPs of “betraying” the electorate. In a statement, ODM called on its supporters to ignore such “selfish leaders who only cared about their stomachs and not the well-being of millions of poor Kenyans”.

The statement was signed by the party’s Director of Communications, Philip Etale.

The Minority Leader in the National Assembly, Opiyo Wandayi, who doubles as Director of Political Affairs, dismissed the MPs’ move, saying it was expected.

“Our focal point is the people’s interests. We are not ready to entertain petty shenanigans by a few people,” said Wandayi in reference to the MPs.

The statement said that since last year’s election, some leaders have elected to undermine the leadership of the party and chosen to go against the will of the people.

“Three months ago, the Azimio la Umoja leadership began rallies to push for reclamation of its victory in order to provide the leadership Kenyans want; but all along, we knew the enemy would not sit pretty,” stated the party.

Not first visit

Speaking to ‘People Daily’ yesterday, Mbadi defended the MPs who met President Ruto at State House on Tuesday, saying they were not the first ones from the region to do so. He stated that four governors from the region — Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and James Orengo (Siaya) — have all met the President to discuss development matters. “The only problem we have is that we read too much politics in all these; we need to be focused on good things,’’ said Mbadi.

The MPs who visited State House took to local radio stations yesterday to explain their position, with Nyamita, Abuor and Owino maintaining that they focused on matters affecting cane farmers in the Awendo sugarbelt.

 “The sugar industry is doing badly and farmers are bearing the brunt of its negative effects. This warrants State intervention,’’ said Owino

Other issues include poor rural and urban access roads that need to be tarmacked in their regions, among other key infrastructure. They said it had nothing to do with politics.

Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama also waded into the debate, saying the President is the symbol of unity and must work with all regardless of their political affiliations.

 He told the MPs not to be cowed in their efforts to represent the interests of their people.

More on Inside Politics