Western Leaders give elusive Luhya unity a shot ahead of 2022

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa were chosen to spearhead the Luhya unity initiative. PHOTO/COURTESY

Frustrated with playing second fiddle in perpetuity, leaders from western Kenya are mulling ways of securing a seat at the high table. And for the first time, they say, they will not be merely peddling parties.

The 27 MPs from the region met on Monday night and came up with a raft of resolutions.

Key among them is the endorsement of Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa to spearhead the initiative.

The move opens a window for battle with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula for the control of the region as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession takes shape.

The meeting, which is said to have the blessings of President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, also discussed imminent changes in the leadership at the National Assembly, revival of stalled projects, the challenges in the sugar and maize sectors and appointment of the members of the community to the government.

While the lawmakers tasked Mr Oparanya to provide political leadership, they prevailed upon the CS to ensure the interests of the community in government are secured.

Mr Wamalwa is also supposed to ensure all stalled projects in the region are completed, take deliberate steps to ensure the government waives debts in ailing public sugar mills and that maize farmers are cushioned from cartels in the fertilizer supply chain and with regard to high taxation.

The MPs also want the government to implement the Sugar Task Force report.

Mr Oparanya, confirming the meeting took place, said they are preparing for another to be held today, which will bring together the MPs, senators and governors from the region, even as he promised to ensure the interests of the community are secured in the government.

“I thank the MPs for the confidence they have accorded me and I assure them I am up to the challenge. I will deliver,” he said.

The leaders reckon they stand to miss out if they do not organise themselves early.

“We don’t want to be left out of the emerging coalition yet it is clear that as a community we are playing a catch-up. Unless we fix our own mess, no one will invite us to the table,” an MP who attended the meeting said on condition that he is not named.

Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, who eased his way out of Jubilee Party’s Tanga Tanga faction early in the year, was elected the MPs’ spokesman with the extra duty of chairing the caucus.

Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua, who was picked as his deputy, noted their task will be to convene future meetings of the caucus while at the same time mobilising leaders from the region to support the Building Bridges Initiative.

The hastily convened meeting took place just hours after Mr Mudavadi, in an interview with a local newspaper, ruled out any possibility of working with President Kenyatta in any political deal. He said ANC is strategising in line with the emerging political developments, a declaration that is said to have angered the President and his men, according to sources, who believe the former deputy prime minister has no clear stand on his political future.

Political analyst Martin Andati yesterday poured cold water on the plan, saying it may not achieve its intended purpose as none of the MPs can hold a candle to Mr Mudavadi.

“Mr Mudavadi needs to work harder, but I don’t think the strategy to isolate him will work because none of the MPs can fill his position,” he said.