ODM leader Raila Odinga, who is recuperating at his Karen home in Nairobi after a surgery in Dubai, on Thursday took time to reconcile two factions in his party to forestall a possible falling out.
The Nation has learnt that the ODM leader was concerned about differences within the leadership of the party that bubbled under the surface while he was away.
Deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, who together with Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, has been making “development tours” in western, had reportedly fallen out with Secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and other youthful leaders over the party’s drive towards 2022.
Last week, Mr Sifuna teamed up with other young leaders from the region, including Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Saboti MP Caleb Amisi and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi and MCAs to launch the ‘Mulembe Youth Movement’ ostensibly to rival the Oparanya camp.
A source privy to the Thursday meeting at Mr Odinga’s home said this threatened the unity in the region and was giving the Handshake team a bad name compelling Mr Odinga to broker reconciliation.
“The tension had been simmering for the past three weeks since Mr Odinga left for his medical trip in Dubai.”
Mr Odinga, he said, took his time despite his medical rest to bring the leaders together and explained why their unity is key for the party’s survival in western amid ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula tours.
During the launch of the youth movement, Mr Sifuna took issue with Mr Oparanya’s team claiming they were only keen on reviving the old guard and pushing for their employment in government.
“We have capable youth leaders in western and there is no need to recycle the old guard,” Mr Sifuna said, adding that the Oparanya team had sidelined upcoming youthful leaders.
On Friday, Mr Oparanya was non-committal on the Karen meeting but took issue with certain demands by the youthful brigade.
“I cannot talk about a meeting with our party leader because it was private but I want to assure that nobody will be left out of our tours,” Mr Oparanya said.
Sources within their camp told Nation that they started by meeting elders and will meet education stakeholders, youths, women groups and professionals from the region.
During the Thursday meeting attended by Mr Oparanya, Mr Sifuna, Mr Malala, Mr Osotsi, Mr Wamalwa and Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli, Mr Odinga reportedly told them to work together. The ODM leader, the source revealed, wanted a formidable force to unite the region to enhance rapid development courtesy of his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Nation has learnt that now, the ‘Mulembe Youth Movement’ will work with Mr Oparanya’s team and will be named the ‘Handshake’ Team.
Today, the youth team will however, continue with one of their programmes that had been planned earlier.
It will take place at Siaka Village, West Sang’alo ward in Kanduyi Constituency, Bungoma County. Mr Sifuna had last week threatened not to work with Mr Oparanya’s team unless they put the interests of the youth first.