What I Saw at ODM’s Dinner at Laico Regency Shocked Me
Gabriel Oguda on Facebook has recounted his experience at the ODM 10 year anniversary dinner on Friday night.
According to Oguda, the 6000 a plate dinner became a free for all with hooligans taking over the hotel.
Here’s his narration of events.
I am still trembling, as I write this, because what I witnessed at the Laico Regency Hotel last night was the greatest political howler South of Griftu, East of Onyalobiro.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) were celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a Life Members Dinner. The venue, Laico Regency Hotel, at the heart of Nairobi City, was picked to shoulder the weight of such a monumental occasion. This was billed as the meeting of party elites. Anyone who paid the 6,000 to access that venue was, by all intents and purposes, an earshot away from the Party Leader.
The ODM is not just any other political outfit. I was in Elwak, Mandera County, two years ago when I met a Raila Odinga diehard who told me that whoever calls ODM a party should be shot. To him ODM is a movement, a mass movement. In this world full of ideological pestilence and ethnic hatred, the ODM is the only remaining party who do not belong to the coalition of the coerced, unwilling, intimidated and bribed.
Those who join ODM do so on their own volition, ready for the ideological struggle passed on from our historical greats, and willing to walk the full mile for a cause they are willing to die for. The average ODM member is a very resilient human being.
But events yesterday cast a heavy cloud over the seriousness and maturity of a party that claims to have weathered storms hitherto unforeseen. 10 years is a long time to set up structures and run a stealth machine. It takes 83 days to build a Boeing 777. It took contractors Solel Boneh & Factah 6 years to build the KICC. 10 years, therefore, is a long time to straighten things up and operate a political party like a professionally run stealth machine.
Those who’ve driven to the Laico Regency Hotel will tell you there are three layers of security. Anyone accessing that hospitality landmark which used to be Kamlesh Pattni’s playtoy, will be stopped at the main gate – sitting along Market Street equidistant between Uhuru Highway and Loita Street. The iron ramp goes up, the first security guard kindly requests that you lower your window, step out and get your car screened. Yesterday, as we went in, the parking lot was full. We had to park halfway around the world and walk to Laico.
When we walked in past that first checkpoint, we would have expected to be stopped. At the very minimum, the guards there should have inquired what business we came to do. That did not happen, we walked in like we were going into a church, they did not even run any scan on our bodies.
It’s all cool. Immediately you cross the first check point you enter the hotel carpark. This is where all the invited guests should have parked. These invited guests are not ordinary folk. It cost IEBC 200 million to carry out the Homa Bay County Senatorial by-election. ODM, alone, have 78MPs, 15 Women Reps, and 3 nominated MPs sitting in the National Assembly. Add that to 10 elected senators, 6 nominated, and 15 Governors. Anyone harbouring mischief has, at their disposal, 127 national leaders to pick from. Don’t even mention the list of MCAs. These guys were being dropped at the parking bay and their cars nested there as they awaited leave. That space was for free for all.
The second point of call is the main entrance to Laico. There, as in any other public facilities in this city, is stationed a full body metal detector (for people walking through) alongside a backscatter x-ray machine (for any goods they are carrying along).
The full body metal detector is meant to pick out any metal you have on your body: car keys, pinhole cameras, teeth grills, iron buckles. Everything. Even those who have metals inserted in their bodies to heal bone fractures, bullet wounds, slipped disks. Everything. I used to have a colleague who had a bullet lodged in one of her organs and she would walk around with a medical certificate explaining that she isn’t a thug. When the scanner goes red and you’re called aside for examination, you present that medical chit, and you are let in, or you go back and start again. It’s been standard practice all over the world since 9/11. I’ve seen travellers walk barefoot in airports as they pass through the checkpoint. It is the most thorough screening process you would ever see.
But at Laico last night, it was free for all. When I approached the scanner, I emptied my pockets and ran the contents through the backscatter x-ray gadget. But when I went through the metal detector, the thing wailed so loudly you could hear the screams from Nyayo House. I apologised, and offered to go back for another go. The guy manning the checkpoint waved me in, told me not to worry.
I refused. Wait a minute. You mean I am going to access an installation with half the country’s parliamentarians with a metal concealed underneath and you are not bothered at all? You got to be kidding me. I went back, joined the queue from behind and removed my belt. The other guys were just being waved in as the thing screamed its voice hoarse. They don’t care, those security guys, they are used to the noise.
I am allowed into the main reception area, of what used to be The Grand Regency Hotel, and I find chaos on earth. Akado Market, down there in Seme Kadinga, have market days every Thursday. Cabbages come from as far as Limuru, Charcoal from Chepsweta, Hardware timber from Elburgon. Akado Market, down there on the border of Seme & Asembo, is crazily confused every Thursdays. But Laico Regency Hotel’s main reception area, last night, was more chaotic than Akado Market on a good Thursday. I don’t know how to put this, but if I’ve ever told you about my village madman, Adhiegra, with his centurion sunhat that smells part-omena part-anguro, half of the hoodlums at the Laico Regency main reception area last night were a hundred times badly groomed than Adhiegra, and occupied every inch of space you wouldn’t go into the ODM main hall without passing through their toll station.
This is not a joke. Kipchumba Murkomen, the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator, was also attending another function at the same venue last night. Can you believe that those party hangers-on waylaid Murkomen and blocked his exit until he parted with something? Murkomen at first thought they were just greeting him, so he exposed his pink buccal cavity reciprocating the love, until they stopped him for handouts. He did not know how to react, I could see his eyebrows going up then he decides I’m not going to give these guys a red cent, splits the cordon and rebukes them “kwani nyinyi mko chama zote, bwana!” Those were his exact words, he was angry to the bone, walked out like he wanted to shoot someone. Last night, at the foyer of Laico, we had a licensed extortion ring operating with impunity.
These guys had done their research well. They know almost all the faces of politicians in this country – I bet they watch television a lot. They station themselves along the way to the venue of the ODM function, and they waylay any walking politician coming through that door. Nicholas Gumbo almost fell on the floor as the extortionists made a mad rush to his direction, somebody clipped his heels I think. Had Gumbo been unfit, the people of Rarieda would have been receiving the news of their MP admitted in hospital today. If you’ve ever attended a Gor Mahia match and seen the mob that gatecrashes in with Raila Odinga as he walks into Nyayo Stadium, yesterday at Laico was free for all.
ODM did not instruct the hotel to screen guests for the ticket. They just asked everyone to be let in. Everyone, including those city hoodlums worse than Adhiegra.
The madness at the foyer was to prepare you for worse to come. Inside the hall, was the dictionary definition of hell. The heat inside that main hall would have burnt Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. It was scorching hot, painfully stuffy the acrid air stung your nostrils. You are looking for a seat and there’s none. I think that was Millie Odhiambo I saw sitting on someone’s lap. Invited guests were sitting in turns. Even the funeral of Wilson Ndolo Ayah, up there in the hills of Kitambo, was better organised than this. You’re literally choking in an event you were told was exclusive for Life Members.
There was no drinking water on the table. One of the governors wanted to quench his thirst and had to send his bodyguard for water in a 24hr supermarket five kilometres away from the venue. I saw Eliud Owalo leaving before the event ended, he was shaking his head, and looking down in embarrassment. I may have misjudged Eliud before, but he has class. His body language told me he doesn’t like those goons. There were people who came in, looked around, saw the chaos, and angrily left for home. Anyone who claims to have standards and did not leave that venue yesterday in protest, is a wannabe lifeist.
The food came, too late into the night when everyone had left. There wasn’t even space to serve the food. I think I saw Rosemary Odinga eating while standing. Half the hall was filled by criminals out to take advantage of elite party members. It’s like they had been told there was going to be a public rally at Laico so they came prepared to hunt for every coin. I saw prostitutes too – those little girls who wear transparent skirts the size of military belts. They were many inside that hall. They sit and you want to look away in disgust. Whatever happened last night should see someone going to jail to serve as an example. ODM have thrived on chaos for far too long, it is time to call this madness to a stop.
What worried me the most is the security of Raila Odinga. I’ve said this too many times that the day some mad man will hurt Raila Odinga to the extent of him sent on life support is the day you’ll all wake up from this maddening slumber. if you’re working for Raila Odinga and you’re reading this, kindly take your work very seriously from today, onwards. No one was screening anyone at the entrance of the ODM hall. You just came in and went out the way you wanted.
I estimated the distance between the last man standing on the extreme end of that hall and the podium where Raila Odinga was faking a smile reading his speech – It was less than 30 metres. A Colt .45 revolver has a shooting range of at least 50 metres. It’s magazine has space for 6 cartridges. Anyone with murderous intentions last night, from the furthest end of the hall, could have taken out Jakom, if they wanted to. Jakom was literally thrown to the dogs who were, thankfully, had not intentions to suck his blood. When Jakom was leaving the venue, he passed by the Laico temporary toll station and almost grazed my heel. I have never come closer to Jakom, like last night, since I was born.
If you guys think you have a party, think again. What you have there, headquartered in Kilimani, is a badly-run disaster waiting to blow up on your faces.
To say that ODM is run like a tuck-shop would be an insult to all tuck-shop owners all over this country. Even the Achuow Water Pan, in West Seme, is run a million times better than ODM. I say this with all the humility I can gather.
Last night was a bad dream.
– Gabriel Oguda
Source: Nairobi Wire