The storm brewed by the upcoming January 18th meeting at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega seems not to be waning, with leaders from Western region at loggerheads over the meeting, brought to the fore by COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli. According to leaders supporting the rally, it is meant to provide a common stand on the Building Bridges Initiative report, but others have faulted the meeting, saying it’s a ploy to set up a Western region leader, albeit forcefully. Speaking to the press in a joint presser, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya insisted the 18th Jnauary meeting is not a Luhya unity meeting but a BBI meeting affecting the entire Western region.
The Governor, who is also a co-convener, said the Western region has other tribes, not just the Luhyas, including Tesos, Sabaots among other, “We will be going through the first draft of the BBI, thereafter we shall make our position known and propose other changes we feel should be in the final report,” he said.
Speaking at the same press address, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said the meeting won’t be the stage for a supremacy battle or a coronation of a Luhya king. “The biggest winner in the BBI discourse is actually devolution, given the increment of funds from 15% to 35%.” He noted that the meeting will bring together many communities form the region, not just the Luhya, citing that Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, who is a Teso, is also part of the leaders convening the meeting. He urged politicians not to place in it in a tribal bracket, “We would urge politicians not to tribalize this meeting.”
The leaders’ remarks come days after Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula rubbished the meeting, “Someone who has vied for a political seat and didn’t even get 200 votes, is the one who wants to come to Kakamega and say this or that is the Luhya leader, those are the people dividing us,” he said. He added that other tribes including the Kikuyu and Kalenjin keep their secrets and don’t hold public meetings to choose their leaders. The upcoming meeting has also come under fire from former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, who faulted Atwoli’s intentions. The COTU boss also came under sharp criticism after hosting former PM and ODM leader Raila Odinga at his rural home in Ebukwala, Khwisero on December 26th, in a meeting that sidelined notable Luhya leaders including ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.