• April 18, 2024
  • Last Update April 18, 2024 6:55 PM
  • Nairobi

List of ODM politicians eyeing to succeed Raila Odinga

List of ODM politicians eyeing to succeed Raila Odinga

By Patricia Mollyne Mataga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s announcement that he would vie for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairmanship sparked a series of reactions.  

The announcement surprised many, especially those who believed he was preparing for a sixth stab at the presidency.

Others believed that the veteran politician was calculating way of exiting the political stage.

But Raila Odinga has since come out and insisted that vying for the AUC post does not affect his local political involvement.

“I am not going away. Addis Ababa is only two hours away from Nairobi. I am available; whenever I am called, I will answer. I am ready to work with you people,” the ODM leader said last week.

While he assures his followers that the AU job is not his exit strategy, some within his circles still believe he might not return to local politics if he succeeds at the continental level.

With his exit now a more likely reality than never, several political leaders have started angling themselves as potential heirs to his massive following.

The fight to succeed Raila is two-fold – those seeking to take over his Luo Nyanza support, and those eyeing his ODM leadership role – and more likely is widespread loyal followers that cut across the country.

Several individuals have since been listed as those most likely to be Raila’s heir – should he opt out of the local politics.

John Mbadi

The nominated MP has been a loyal and close ally of Raila for several years now. Still serving as the ODM national chairman, Mbadi is among those tipped to succeed the ODM leader, especially for his Luo-Nyanza support base.

It is only recently that Mama Ida Odinga seemingly endorsed the former Suba South MP as the best successor of the Azimio leader.

“Baba as he goes to AU has mentored many to take care of what he’s left behind. Mbadi after all these years of mentorship do you still need more training? Should I continue? That’s Baba’s heartbeat,” Ida said.

Opiyo Wandayi

The Ugunja MP is currently the senior-most Azimio legislator in the Nationa Assembly.

He serves as the leader of the minority and many see him as a potential successor of Raila’s Nyaza bastion.

Babu Owino

Although not based in Nyanza, Babu Owino’s name always comes up whenever there is a Nyanza political succession debate.

The Embakasi East MP has made a name in Nairobi politics and some believe when the time comes, he is best placed to take over from Raila.

He has already been tipped as a formidable Nairobi gubernatorial candidate for the 2027 general election.

Gladys Wanga

Women are rarely mentioned in succession politics but the Homa Bay Governor has seemingly managed to sneak her way into the debate – courtesy of her performance as a governor.

It is worth mentioning that ODM convinced the likes of Mbadi to step down for Wanga in 2022 and she is always seen as being close to Raila.

Although Luo Nyanza’s politics are yet to embrace women’s leadership fully, Glady Wanga’s ability can not be wished away.

Wycliffe Oparanya

The former Kakamega Governor is currently serving as the ODM deputy party leader.

He recently said he was ready to take up the Orange party leadership role once Raila moves to Addis Ababa.

Being a senior leader from the Western region, Oparanya is in contention to succeed the former Prime Minister for the party leadership.

“In the event, that Baba heads to Addis Ababa and secures the presidency of over fifty nations, which could potentially happen by next February, we will have ample time to prepare. I am prepared to seize this opportunity and lead ODM,” he said.

Several other names have also been mentioned in the succession battle.

Kenya Kwanza digital strategist Dennis Itumbi had indicated that Raila’s exit would provide an opportunity for a new crop of leaders in Nyanza.

Aside from Babu Owino, he named Lang’ata MP Phelix Odiwuor and Interior Principal Secretary Dr Raymond Omollo as potential new leaders in the region.

“May Raila Odinga succeed in his ambition to be the president of Africa. Kenya supports him. I support him, too. The generational political take-over begins in Luo Nyanza,” Itumbi said in a post on his verified X handle dated February 15, 2024.

“May the youthful people of Nyanza led by @ray_omollo Omollo, Hon. David Ochieng, Hon. @HEBabuOwino, Hon. @RobertAlai and my friend @Oduorerick, among others, succeed in claiming their positions without delay. Political leadership is NOT given. It is taken,” he added.

Who is best suited to replace Raila Odinga, in the event he calls it quits in Kenyan politics?

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