As the unity among Luhya political leaders remains elusive amid political divisions and sub-tribal differences among the 18 sub-tribes of the larger Luhya community, Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation Services Eugene Wamalwa has assured the community that he will be handy to unite the community by the 2017 general elections.
Wamalwa who is not allowed to engage much in politics by virtue of his cabinet position that requires him to remain neutral and serve each and every Kenyan equally, promised to bring together senior political leaders from the region in order to chat the best way forward as far as the region’s political future is concerned.
Speaking during the burial ceremony of the late Masinde Muliro’s widow Mercia Muliro at her home in Sibanga in Cherangany constituency the CS who represented President Uhuru Kenyatta at the function said that he cannot indulge in politics at the moment but he will be ready and willing to go full throttle come 2017 and shall play a major role in defining the destiny of the community.
“As you know right now I am here to serve Kenyans as a cabinet secretary and I am not engaging in politics but remember that when time comes in 2017 we shall come back here and do politics as we forge to know our next move as a region,” said Wamalwa as he addressed mourners.
He said that the Luhya nation should be very cautious and calculative in deciding the way to follow when that time comes noting that they should not let their plans be revealed to others but unite to make wise decisions on their political destiny.
“In 2017 am ready to come back here and call my brother Moses Wetangula here, my brother Musalia Mudavadi, Cyrus Jirongo and other leaders from the region so that we can seriously dialogue on the destiny of our people bearing in mind that everybody is fighting for the same and thus we have to be very tactical before deciding on which political wing to follow lest we shall be rained on because we are under watch by others,” he said.
Other leaders present at the funeral including Wetang’ula who has been a bitter rival of Wamalwa especially when the CS was still holding the party leadership of New Ford Kenya before his appointment to the cabinet and Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka chose to embrace a reconciliatory tone at the funeral in what they termed as respect and emulation of the late Masinde Muliro and his widow Mercia Muliro who was being laid to rest.
Wetang’ula in his speech said that he was ready to work with any leader from the region including those whom he had differed with in one way or another. He also sought for support from the leaders and members of the community from the entire region in his bid to vie for the seat of president in the next general elections.
“I would like to make peace with everybody here even if we differed or disagreed in one way or
another, today as I stand here on the grave of my father Masinde Muliro I call for peace and urge you here and everybody from our home ground to come out and support me in my bid so that we can move together,” said Wetang’ula.
He said that leadership is always nurtured hence the people of Western and the larger Luhya nation should also be ready to nurture their leaders so that they can define their destiny and achieve what their fallen leaders aspired to achieve.
Wetang’ula who spoke in his Bukusu dialect further called on leaders and supporters from the region regardless of where they lean politically to support one of their own.
“Even if you stand on the Jubilee side or whichever side that you fall remember that if ‘Weta’ comes calling for your support, please come and stand behind him and support him so that we walk together because he is yours,” said the senator who is also party leader for Ford Kenya.
“I am yours and I might not be the best but am ahead of the park hence I urge you to support me so that we can move together,” he said.
On his part Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka said that he was ready to work and support each of the leaders in the region as long as leaders can respect each other and seek out their in-house issues away from the public instead of washing their dirty linen in public.
“As a governor of Bungoma I am also a party leader of New Ford Kenya that is one of the party’s that was born from Ford Kenya and I would like to say that if we want to reach where we want to go then we should observe what we say and respect each other regardless of age,” he said.
The governor further urged Wetangula to respect leaders from his county of Bungoma and create forums to discuss and put their house in order before moving out and to avoid criticizing each other in public.
“Honorable Wetangula as my senator in Bungoma I urge you to come, we organize our house in Bungoma before moving out. If there is a problem or if I have done a mistake as a governor then come we sit down and correct each other before going out to the public, if not we shall become a laughing stock as leaders and as a county,” Lusaka added.
He noted that he and other leaders in his party have no problem supporting Wetangula in his bid only when the senator also recognizes and respects other leaders in the area.
“We have no problem supporting you mheshimiwa in your bid to wherever you want to go but you should also respect and listen to us as fellow leaders from the region instead of washing our dirty linen in public,” he said.
The governor further called on other Ford Kenya leaders from Trans Nzoia county to stop inciting and accusing leaders in neighboring Bungoma county bearing in mind that Trans Nzoia and Bungoma are like brothers or cousins hence whatever befalls either of the counties has spill-over effects on the other.
Lusaka’s statement was viewed as being directed to Kiminini MP Dr. Chris Wamalwa who is a close ally of Wetangula and was vocal in raising issue with the slowly fading issue of the Kshs 109,000 wheelbarrow scandal that has rocked Lusaka’s administration for over a month ago.
Lusaka was also supported by Trans Nzoia woman MP Janet Nangabo who accused the Ford Kenya leaders although not directed to a particular leader but seemed to be addressing Wetangula to respect his fellow leaders in the region.
He urged the leaders from the Luhya nation not to belittle each other and ridicule fellow leaders as they tear each other in public instead of finding a better way of addressing their issues.
“You the children of Mulembe should not allow the rivalry of Ford Kenya and New Ford Kenya to tear you apart because some of our leaders want others to kneel before them and worship them and their hearts have rust and cannot look after orphans because as a good senator or governor when your colleague has been befallen by a problem you should not criticize and ridicule him or her in public because any other time you talk to him or her, you will not be trusted,” said Nangabo who seemed also to be referring to the wheelbarrow issue in Bungoma.
In the same respect Kiminini Mp Chris Wamalwa also urged leaders from the Luhya nation not to wash their dirty linen in public noting that other leaders or communities are also watching them.
“As the house of Mulembe we are being watched, united we stand divided we fall and therefore we should work as a team because we don’t want to wash our dirty linen in public.
Similar sentiments were also said by COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli and former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli who cautioned the leaders from the region against talking and discussing issues about their bid to be united in public but should instead be locking themselves in board rooms to have their serious discussions about their unity out of the public eye.
It is therefore a matter of time to establish the commitment and seriousness of the leaders if they will eventually walk the talk, or it will remain the normal funeral talks as it has been their routine to speak of unity while at big public ceremonies in the region and leave everything at that without any follow-ups and implementation of their talks and promises.
The funeral was attended by among others, senators Henry Ole Ndiema of Trans Nzoia, Ford Kenya nominated Senator Catherine Mukite, MPs Ferdinand Wanyonyi of Kwanza, Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Dr. Esseli Simiyu (Tongaren), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Patrick Wangamati ( nominated) MP and Trans Nzoia deputy governor Dr. Stanley Kenei.
Others included former MPs and ministers Dr. Noah Wekesa, Bifwoli Wakoli, Fred Gumo, Davies Nakitare, Joash Wamangoli, Musikari Kombo and other aspiring leaders including Cosmas Nabungolo and Bisau Kakai who are aspiring to vie for the seat of governor in Trans Nzoia in 2017 and a host of members of the county assembly from Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties led by speaker David Sifuna of Trans Nzoia.
The chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce Kiprono Kitonyi and other leaders from the region who turned out in large numbers to mourn the 92-year-old octogenarian who was eulogized by many mourners and speakers as a respected woman who also served as a nominated councilor in Trans- Nzoia and Bungoma county councils.