A secret move by Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli using his network to personally reach out a number of MCAs drawn from the Western region to to pass the Building Bridges Initiative through their respective county assemblies is bearing fruit.
Atwoli is one of the brains behind BBI and Western region being his home turf has to back the report to counter his political enemies. Atwoli’s decision to engage the MCAs directly started when over 270 ward reps drawn from Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, Busia and Trans-Nzoia counties met at Golf Hotel and demanded to be given Sh500,000 in cash each to pass the bill. Atwoli’s concern was, having been instrumental in BBI Kakamega rally last year after ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-K counterpart Moses Wetangula had teamed with William Ruto allies to organise a failed parallel rally in Mumias and ended up attending his Bukhungu rally, it was his duty to engage the MCAs.
Atwoli does not want to find himself in the situation Baringo senator Gideon Moi was caught in Baringo when MCAs voted against BBI. Busia MCAs passed the BBI followed by Trans Nzoia the same day. Other counties that passed BBI are West Pokot, Siaya, Kisumu and Homa Bay. In Busia, out of the 53 MCAs, only one nominated member, Bernard Odako from Budalang’i opposed the bill during the voting session that was presided over by speaker Bernard Wamalwa. As things stand, Kakamega, Vihiga and Bungoma counties are set to back the bill. Majority of the MCAs who made the demands for cash handouts are said to be in Ruto’s camp led by Lwanda Township MCA Tom Atingo.
Atingo is close to Ruto and is to run on UDA party ticket in Luanda constituency MP. Atingo told the meeting at Golf Club the counties from the region would pass the bill in a record five days should they be ‘bought.’ The Ruto allied MCA include Chegulo/Butali ward MCA Kevin Mahelo, who is the only Jubilee MCA in Kakamega county. Most MCAs in the Luhya counties are either in ANC, ODM and a handful in Ford-K. In Vihiga county, there is no single Jubilee MCA while in Bungoma there are nine mostly from Mt Elgon constituency. In Busia most MCAs are in ODM but only one in Jubilee.
However, the political grounds are shifting at an alarming rate and the situation is different with pro-Ruto MCAs struggling to make ends meet. The MCA have been frequent visitors to Ruto’s Sugoi home until late when the deputy president blasted them that the Luhya are only looking for handouts from him but they will deny him votes in 2022. The rowdy MCAs kept chanting money! money! as some said they had been promised pocket cash but they never received any. Most of the MCAs do not have degrees and they have made another demand that for them to pass the BBI, parliament should suspend section 22 of the election act that requires those standing for the ward representative seats to be holders of a university degree as a condition.
The MCAs further want the Sh2 million car grant they were awarded by Uhuru Kenyatta to be released by the end of this week. Apart from Atwoli, others who attended the meeting are ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma).
MPs Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Alfred Agoi (Sabatia) and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi. Atingo of Progressive Party of Kenya said that MCAs are broke and must be facilitated to go and popularise the BBI document at the grassroots level. Atwoli at Kakamega talks called on the five county assemblies in Western to speak in one voice and outlined the benefits of BBI to Kenyans. Atwoli took a swipe at Ruto saying his wheelbarrow politics had been overtaken by events.