“Raila Odinga fought the late Kijana Wamalwa against taking over as the Ford-Kenya party as its leader.
He then took up the same war to the Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula and removed him as the senate minority leader before he went ahead to sack me as the minority whip of the national assembly just because I had said ‘10 years for Uhuru Kenyatta and 10 years for William Ruto’”, Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa says in his speeches at public rallies as he angles to succeed Patrick Khaemba as Trans Nzoia governor in next year’s general election. And as he moves to make headway, the Ford-Kenya MP wants Raila to be unwelcome in Western Kenya and in his Kiminini constituency, Trans Nzoia county so as to stop Raila from further undermining the local leaders, two years away from the general polls.
As one of Ruto’s followers, Wamalwa could be reading signs that Raila is moving to gang up with the Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli under the BBI against his quest for the Trans Nzoia governor’s seat. Also in Eugene’s camp opposed to Chris ascending to the gubernatorial seat is Senator Mike Mbito, Khaemba and two of DP Ruto’s allies Abraham Sing’oei and Kakai Bisau. The duo have also lined up for the job. The group is burning the mid-night oil including urging the DP to ignore the Kiminini lawmaker as one of his front men because of his alleged poor relationship with other Trans-Nzoia leaders.
But the vocal Chris is not deterred by criticism and is determined to soldier on as he graduates from parliamentary politics to the county governance after an uninterrupted two terms in the national assembly. The two terms saw the MP clinch the position of chief whip and the chair of the caucus of Catholic MPs. He was almost climbing the ladder to the FK’s secretary-general post in the change of leadership tussle within the party when the matter landed in court and is yet to be resolved. All what the Kiminini MP wants is to succeed Khaemba. The legislator would also insist on having in place a successor who would advance his political legacy as a debater in the national assembly and one to improve on his performance in the constituency.
Unlike in the other four constituencies in the county where Chris has shown interest of sponsoring his choices, the lawmaker has yet to name his preferred successor even as one of his aides Godwin Masibo who was expected to take over from him was moved away from the area to Nairobi under unexplained circumstances. The MP has of late been leaning towards one Joseph Pepela for Saboti constituency whose seat is held by ODM’s Caleb Amisi, Bernard Milimo for Cherangany, Robert Simiyu for Endebess, MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi to retain the Kwanza seat and Susan Nakhumicha to oust woman rep Janet Nangabo.
The group has been accompanying the legislator in churches and funerals for him to popularise and market them. During the burial of Elizabeth Tum, the wife of the Kenya Seed MD Nathaniel Tum, speaker after speaker led by deputy governor Stanley Tarus asked the MP to stop insulting Khaemba as he could be the next victim of abuses if at all he wins the governor’s race. Also firing at the MP were two of his opponents Kakai Bisau and Moses Khaoya both who ran for governor’s seat in 2017 and whom Chris has told they will slop again in polls next year as had been the case in the past elections.
Before he settled for the Kiminini seat in 2013 after it had been carved off the larger Saboti constituency formerly represented by Eugene, the Kiminini legislator had declared to even take on Eugene in the former larger Saboti before Eugene changed tune to go for the presidency which he failed to contest. And as Kenyans brace up for the BBI report being backed fully by Eugene, it is yet to be seen whether or not Chris will back the Devolution CS for a local parliamentary seat in an agreement that would see the CS climb to the national echelons while the Kiminini MP remains back to control the county.
Other sources, however, divulged that the CS would have an alternative for the home turf Saboti constituency where he expects the usual backing of Bukusu elders who have always followed the Eugene Wamalwa family from time immemorial. A group of aspirants led by Wycliffe Cheptang’at alias Pakachini have vowed to resist the recycling of leaders in Saboti saying the area has fresh brains that should be explored for the best leadership to be achieved. But should push come to shove, the CS could find himself on the governor’s ballot paper with the Kiminini MP to rekindle the 2007 war between the duo before they parted ways following the creation of Kiminini constituency.
Like Chris who faces uncertainty over the choice of the party on which to ride on following the disputed FK party leadership changes, Chris is not sitting pretty within Jubilee party where Ruto has got his own lineup to wrestle with him down for the various seats in the county. This leaves Eugene with the option of aligning with the newly registered UDA party associated with his aides. But even without the involvement of the two Wamalwas, Kiminini is a relatively a new constituency and with an open ground that could be explored by any politician based on manifestos and inter personal skills.
That the ground is hot ahead of next year’s polls, one of the aspirants Battan Khaemba reversed Sh20,000 to a rival Cosmas Nabungolo who had donated the money during the funeral of the wife of the Moi University don to go towards the education of one of the sons of the bereaved family. Khaemba is said to have described the donation as ridicule to his family of many brains which is able to take care of the education of family siblings. At the same time, 2017 runners-up Julius Mbagaya has been using the church to convince the residents to change tune and vote for a non-Bukusu MP this time round of multi-party politics.
The two Wamalwas therefore may have little influence in the outcome in the change of guard in Kiminini next year though each one has his own followers to back with the Devolution CS likely to rally behind Nabongolo and Chris preferring to take a neutral stand in the initial stages. Secondary schools officials under the umbrella of Kuppet are divided between Eugene and Chris with the outgoing office led by the branch executive Furaha Lusweti angling towards the Devolution CS as the rival group led by a Mr Barasa of Masaba Secondary School behind the Kiminini lawmaker in the county polls that are slated for next month.
With Eugene having lost a sizeable support at the grassroots owing to his busy schedule with the cabinet, the CS will do more work to try and fumigate the poison poured to the electorate by his opponents as was observed recently with the lukewarm reception for the launch of the BBI report at the Kitale ASK showground which he presided over. Some of the aspirants include a finance expert Biketi Musuya, an MKU lecturer Martin Makunda, MCA David Kisaka and a contractor Martin Walubuka, Cosmas Nabungolo, Paul Sitati, Battan Khaemba, Patrick Juma, Robert Wamalwa and a Mr Kituyi. Others are the 2017 candidates Mbagaya, Moses Zawedi, Evans Kundu and Emmanuel Wanjala alias Maji Moto.
While each of the aspirants will go out flat seeking for the sponsoring parties, alliances and finances, the predominant FK party led by Wetang’ula faction starts on the wrong footing with the shaky support on the ground, opening the way out for independent candidates and other existing parties such as Kanu, ODM, ANC and Jubilee. Currently, Jubilee has two ward reps Alfred Weswa (Sirende) and Simon Makhanu (Waitaluk) and it is hoped that with DP Ruto increasing his troops into the county, the party could be headed for more victories.
The Luhya community remains the swing vote in all the six wards namely Sirende, Waitaluk, Kiminini, Nabiswa, Hospital and Sikhendu What is emerging in Kiminini is that whoever will carry the day must be ready to economically empower the residents with emphasis on introducing piped water which has been a mirage since independence more than 57 years ago. But who amongst the aspirants is ready for that? Or could there be some people in waiting to join the Kiminini’s MP’s 2022 bandwagon? And what are the aspirations of Kiminini people?
According to MCA Kisaka who is also the chairman of the budget and appropriation committee of the Trans Nzoia county assembly, Kiminini had suffered from chronic lack of public participation for the area’s desired development projects adding that as an agricultural producing zone it must be attached to the permanent markets. “Development should not be a one-man show but collective responsibility. For example, we could be steps ahead if invested in storey buildings for our schools for lack of enough space as well as encouraging our farmers to produce crops that are not grown in other areas so as to have some sort of batter trade,” Kisaka said.