By Angaza News Reporter
The rift between former Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) kingpins from Busia County Ababu Namwamba and his neighbour Paul Otuoma broke wide open last weekend when Ababu conspicuously failed to attend the burial of Otuoma’s son.
Ababu who is the Member of Parliament for Budalangi constituency which is neighbouring Otuoma’s Funyula was conspicuously absent at the burial which was supposed to have been attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta who cancelled his attendance at the last minute.
Instead Ababu was reported to have been officiating at a Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) function to officially open the party’s office at Ngong Township in Kajiado County when his friend’s son was being buried at Bukiri village Samia Funyula Sub-County in Busia County.
The burial was attended by high profile leaders from the former western province and other regions who included Amani National Congress Party leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Dr. Otuoma who was the ODM national Vice Chairman and Namwamba who was the Secretary General quit their party positions in acrimony a few months ago with harsh and bitter words against party leader Raila Odinga with whom Otuoma later made up while Ababu decamped to the LPK that is closely linked to Jubilee as its leader under highly questionable circumstances.
Un-confirmed reports at the time which Ababu denied were that he had been paid more than Kshs. 290 million by Deputy President William Ruto for him and Otuoma to take over the LPK whose owner Prof. Julia Ojiambo is also a former MP for Funyula and from a neighbouring village in Otuoma’s rural home.
They accused Ababu of short-changing Otuoma in the deal and in the process creating sharp differences between the two who had been bosom friends apart from being leaders of the same political party and neighbouring constituencies.
It soon after this quitting ODM that Deputy President Ruto went public declaring that Namwamba was going to defect to Jubilee where he would be accommodated. That came from a background last year where a section of the ODM top cream had gone public accusing some of their own colleagues of being Jubilee “moles” in their party.
It was after this development that Otuoma was reported to have gone back on the drawing board and opted to remain in ODM and even hosted Raila in his rural home to a tête-à-tête that lasted late into the night after they both attended a burial ceremony in the neighbouring Siaya County.
Though they both (Ababu & Otuoma) denied publicly denied having any differences following these developments, speculation has erupted in Busia County as to why he kept away from attending the burial of Otuoma’s son which was supposed to be attended by President Kenyatta whose Jubilee party is reportedly closely associated with Ababu’s LPK.
The question being whether Ababu feared being heckled and humiliated before the President in Funyula Sub-County which is generally considered an ODM and not an LPK zone despite the party’s founder being from there?
That is considering his nasty experience at the Coast when through what he called a slip of the tongue while addressing members of the public said: “Sisi kama Jubilee” thus earning the wrath of the people at the venue who were mostly supporters of ODM from that region.
Considering the fact that the burial was attended by virtually all MPs from Busia County including Arthur Odera from Teso North constituency in the far North of the County and missed by Ababu from the immediate neighbourhood sharing a common boundary definitely gives enough room for speculation at all levels.
That is because burials are considered highly important ceremonies or occasions where personal attendance to pay the last respects to the deceased person and condolences to the bereaved family is taken very seriously – especially in Busia County where if a neighbour fails to attend his/her neighbour’s burial raises a phalanx of questions.