EXCLUSIVE: Ababu Namwamba speaks on relationship with Raila, political future


Ababu
Budalang'i MP Ababu Namwamba. [Photo/Benjamin Wafula]

ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba has moved to clear the air over widespread reports that he has fallen out with CORD leader Raila Odinga and that he is contemplating leaving the party.

In an interview with Salim Swaleh on Citizen TV’s Nipashe Jumapili, Ababu said that his relationship with Raila was cordial, adding that the fallout reports are misplaced.

“I would like to assure ODM supporters that I have no issues with Raila Odinga. The party leader is like my father and has my utmost respect,” he said.

Ababu highlighted his contribution in ODM saying he has been a strong pillar that has ensured stability of the party and would not consider quitting it for another political outfit.

He said that reports of his exit from the party for Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) were malicious and misplaced, adding that his move to call for reforms in ODM was driven by the desire to better position the party for the 2017 General Election.

“If someone wants to leave a party, they do not have to call for reforms that would make the party better. I feel like I am being fought because of my desire to bring changes in ODM,” said Namwamba.

Brains behind ODM Reloaded

The Budalangi MP highlighted some of his achievements as ODM Secretary General including mounting a spirited campaign in the Kajiado Central and Mathare parliamentary by-elections, all which ODM candidates emerged winners.

“I was also the initiator of the Toklezea ID campaign aimed at encouraging the youth to take up ID cards and register as voters, as well as the launch of a countrywide ODM Reloaded campaign to stabilise the party after the exit of Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Charity Ngilu, Najib Balala and Joe Nyagah,” he said.

“It is from these campaigns that I earned the name General, and I am surprised that all that has been forgotten with antagonists of reforms now baying for my blood.”

Namwamba however claimed that his powers in the SG position have been capped, adding that some forces within the party have not allowed him to execute his mandate expeditiously.

“I know my ability and what I can do for ODM; but you can only work within the mandate you have been given,” he said.

“I was among the people who founded ODM and I am a defender of the party in and out of Parliament. We should stop giving people names and spreading rumours that they are ditching a party just because they have different goals.”

Nine Western MPs

On why he did not follow the party’s channels in raising issues that touch on its operations, Ababu said that their grievances were not new and had been raised before.

He further noted that he did not speak during the presser last week where a number of issues were raised, and wondered why he was the one targeted.

The MP however stated that the issues raised in the presser were concerns of the nine MPs present and should not be taken lightly.

Namwaba said: “One of the issues we raised was the lack of consultation in ODM which if observed, the confusion like the refusal of Mogotio MP Hellen Sambili to represent CORD in the IEBC dialogue process, would not have arisen. We also talked about the need to have transparent nomination process which is a vital issue.”

He blamed his woes on individuals within ODM who are displeased by his desire for reforms and his move to disband the party’s electoral body.

Leaders can engage with political rivals

Ababu further urged political leaders to desist from sticking labels on other leaders because of their engagement with members from a different political divide.

He refuted claims that he was positioning himself to be Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate in the 2022 presidential elections saying Jubilee had able leaders who could hold the position.

“The reports claiming I am planning to be DP Ruto’s running mate in 2022 are false and preposterous. It is not surprising that such rumours only emerged after I took up the SG position.”

“Kenyan leaders have the right to relate with those from a different outfits and therefore just as I know Raila speaks to President Uhuru Kenyatta from time to time, there is no problem with Ababu and Ruto, or any other leader for that matter, to talk for the sake of development.”

My stand on anti-IEBC protests and hate speech

The legislator said that while he supports the reformation of IEBC ahead of the 2017 elections, he is opposed to the use of violence to achieve this end, as witnessed during CORD’s protests.

“I have restated my position severally and still feel there should be changes in the IEBC. I even began investigations into the electoral commission during my time as chair of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). I however do not support the use of violence or hate speech to achieve these changes,” said Namwamba.

Namwamba further said that he is not scared of losing the SG position, noting that he was able to defend the part even before he got the position.

“I am not worried about losing my seat. This is not a matter of life and death. My prominence has not been brought about by my position as SG and it, in fact, beats the purpose to hold a seat yet you are not given freeway to execute your mandate.”

He further warned against smear campaigns run by his political rivals and claims that he has been bought by Jubilee, saying Kenyan politics should go beyond petty rivalry.

“I am an international lawyer and I had a very big office even before being Secretary General. I get more than Sh1 million a month as salary and it is therefore wrong for people to claim that I have been bought just because I am building a house or buying anything,” said Namwamba.

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