Wetangula, Atwoli tiff: who will blink first?

Wetangula, Atwoli tiff: who will blink first?

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The rising political temperatures in Western region pitting ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula on one hand and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli on the other, is a culmination of the high stakes that are the 2022 succession elections in a region so peppered with emotive divisions yet important to major political players.

With the BBI Bukhungu declaration spearheaded by the veteran trade unionist slated for January 18 in Kakamega already causing ripples among the rank and file, a section of the Luhya leadership have come out guns blazing, partly citing ODM leader Raila Odinga’s involvement in the planning of the event expected to take place at Bukhungu Stadium.

It is now emerging that the BBI originals as those who supported the initiative from the start led by Atwoli are fighting the so-called BBI hijackers, a faction that was initially opposed to the initiative but are now embracing the BBI report. Weekly Citizen has information, BBI originals have programmed meetings across the 47 counties with Kakamega and Kisii counties being among the first ones to host such gathering. Governors, MPs, senators and key proponents of the change the constitution to accommodate new political positions have been incorporated.

It is contested individuals planning the meeting – led by Atwoli – had the temerity to invite Raila at the Cotu boss’ rural home in Khwisero on December 26, without involving all Luhya leaders.

So far Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale, have come out in the open to voice their opposition to the event, with proponents led by Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya, allaying fears that the meeting will be about Luhya unity and the naming of a community spokesman.

According to Oparanya, also the Council of Governors chief, the event is aimed at uniting the community as well as charting the way forward in the aftermath of the BBI report.

Speaking at the second edition of the Anyole Cup at Emusire in Emuhaya, Vihiga county, where he represented Raila, Governor Oparanya warned against dividing the community along political lines, saying every Luhya was free to attend.

The former prime minister, who was to be the chief guest at the occasion organised by ODM’s Luanda MP Chris Omulele and Emuhaya’s Omboko Milemba of ANC, was said to have travelled to China.

In a hard hitting statement dismissing the January 18 fete, Mudavadi accused Atwoli of concentrating much on politics instead of addressing the plight of workers. In another veiled attack on the veteran trade unionist, the ANC boss chided Atwoli for “flaunting excessive wealth in public” even as the workers are homeless and go hungry. We have information, Mudavadi was bitter on the same December 26 he was hosting Maragoli cultural festival, Atwoli was with Raila at his Khwisero home. Of late Raila and Mudavadi do not see eye to eye.

Incidentally, it was Atwoli who crowned Mudavadi Luhya spokesman towards the tail end of 2016 during an event dubbed Bukhungu Declaration One. However, speculation is now rife that Atwoli could be scheming to use the Bukhungu Two event, to install Oparanya as the next Luhya spokesman something Mudavadi and Wetangula are not happy with. Another source told your favourite Weekly Citizen, Atwoli has cut funding to both Mudavadi and Wetangula ANC and Ford-K parties. For years, Atwoli has been bankrolling the duo. It all started when the Cotu boss during the Kibra by-election decided to back ODM candidate and even personally went to campaign for him.

Wetangula had initially approached Atwoli to fund his candidate but turned down. Wetangula wanted Atwoli to fund his candidate just the way he assisted him during Bungoma senatorship by-election years back.

It is said,Wetangula likes being financed and if one decides to stop becomes his enemy. Currently talk is rife, two Ford Kenya governors Wycliffe Wangamati(Bungoma)and Joseph Khaemba(Trans Nzoia) have fallen out with Wetangula after they complained as party leader, he was to receive every weekend facitlitation fee running into thousands to market the party across the country.

Others say Wetangula and Mudavadi are bitter Atwoli of late has decided to directly engage Luhya mps and senators sidelining them. To them, Atwoli is convincing the MPs to back Raila presidency 2022 at their expence.

Analysts aver, Ford Kenya is bound to remain a shell if Wetangula does not change leadership style. In its Bukusu stronghold of Bungoma and Nzoia counties, the party lost seats to Jubilee raising eyebrows. Even in Nairobi during the Kibra by-election,Wetangula’s brother Tim Wanyonyi who is ODM MP Westlands did not throw his weight behing Ford K but backed ODM.

It has emerged, ANC and Ford-K went against the political tide in Nairobi and fielded candidates in Kibra by-election only to be humiliated.

But Atwoli asserts the January 18 meeting will be a confirmation of the community’s unity, with leaders from the political divide expected to affirm their stand on BBI.