It was once said that the stability of Ford-Kenya is derived from its bedrock support in Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma counties, thus the settling of the party leader’s position for Moses Wetang’ula and the secretary-general seat for Simiyu Eseli who both hail from the region.
And as the party gears itself for its national polls soon after its grassroots election in the 47 counties, things seem not set for change with the top seats being eyed by officials from Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma.
Hot on pursuit to replace Simiyu the MP for Tongaren, is the outspoken Kiminini legislator and the national assembly deputy minority leader Chris Wamalwa with sources saying Wetang’ula, the Bungoma senator will be elected unopposed as the party leader.
The only seat that may be floated outside Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma counties is the vice chair that had been held by the former Kakamega senator Bonnie Khalwale who defected to Jubilee to support William Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022.
From the FK polls results carried out in Trans-Nzoia that were posted on the social media, it became apparent that the party was still struggling to come out from the tribal bedrock of its officials who would lead the party for the next five years or so. This has been the trend before.
Only one official deputy governor Stanley Tarus was among the 20 county official elected on the branch level with the rest hailing from the Bukusu community.
Tarus’ position of the county branch vicechair interestingly does not appear in the party’s constitution and his name was supposedly enjoined on the branch list to either hoodwink the governor’s office of its involvement and all the communities across the county.
Party insiders said the governor’s office headed by Patrick Khaemba was by-passed following its withdrawal to support the party’s activities in the area.
Khaemba is set to end his two-term period in 2022. But even as F-K attempted to detribalise itself, Khaemba as one of the governors of the party with others being Wycliffe Wangamati of Bungoma was fighting to face off some of his three key county chief officers CCOs being included on the EACC radar for allegedly turning a blind eye on corruption.
The trio is said not to be responding to issues raised by MCAs, are arrogant, belligerent and have formed a cocoon operating outside their offices.
As Khaemba gave the FK grassroots polls a wide berth, the new party officials were reeling with ire on how to punish the “arrogant” CCOs who were in the office courtesy of the party but had ignored it.
The immediate former Trans-Nzoia senator Henry Ole Ndiema kept off the polls but said he had been included as a national delegate who is eligible to vie for a national seat.
The grassroots polls were a big test for a local saying that once one is nominated for a civic or parliamentary seat on a FK ticket he or she is the automatic winner in the subsequent general election.
The saying was proved wrong in 2013 when senate speaker Kenneth Lusaka was elected the Bungoma governor on the defunct NFK ticket and in Trans-Nzoia both in 2013 and 2017 where FK suffered defeats in the county assembly.
Today FK as the ruling party in Trans-Nzoia is having it rough against the majority Jubilee in the county assembly, a situation that has left Khaemba under the mercy of the Jubilee MCAs.
The Trans-Nzoia FK polls results indicated as to who would be elected for various constituencies in the county beginning with the incumbent Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi as the branch chairman; Patrick Simiyu for Cherangany as the branch secretary-general, Robert Simiyu for Kwanza, Joseph Pepela for Saboti with Kiminini being left out. The group is pushing for MP Wamalwa to be the next governor.
But a rival group led by William Nangulu has protested the results and has vowed to appeal to national office to order for a repeat. Some protesters said the results were giving rival parties advantage to control political and leadership of the county, come 2022.
And true to this, as FK was jostling and wrangling over the seats, Jubilee senator Mike Mbito was hosting over 50 former councillors to a reception in Kitale town to drive home Jubilee’s ambitions for 2022.
Coming at a time when rival parties including ODM, Kanu and ANC are re-organising themselves ahead of the 2022 polls, Wetang’ula’s party can hardly afford to entertain the disputes as it repositions itself as the lead party in the region.
Currently, FK has two governors and senators each; 17 MPs and 78 MCAs compared to the 1990s when it was the official 0pposition party in the national assembly through the late Michael Kijana Wamalwa.
The ODM fraternity led by the branch boss Patrick Musungu and Samuel Tirop from Kwanza enjoying the support of one MCA in the county Martin Jamanoor of Nabiswa ward-were smiling while former councillor Herman Malavi was mulling on how to identify a candidate who would replace the party’s deputy leader Kipruto