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Western region seems ready to embrace generation change tune

By John Shilitsa | Published Sun, April 15th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 14th 2018 at 23:05 GMT +3
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi flanked by secretary general Godfrey Osotsi (right) during a press conference on 10/08/2016. [Photo/Willis Awandu]

As 2022 politics begin to take shape, time appears to be running out for political old guards in Western region.

The region which has a big number of veteran politicians, appears ready to embrace the generation change tune.

A new crop of young but vocal politicians from the region is plotting a ‘coup’ against seasoned leaders who have dominated politics, some of them for more than four decades.

The onslaught, led by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, Sports and National Heritage CS Rashid Echesa and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi could see some senior politicians driven out of town.

Although he is fairly old in politics, many see Vihiga Senator George Khaniri as belonging to the new youthful group.

Western region, bringing together Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Busia counties has for years been politically a reserve of a few politicians, some who inherited leadership from their fathers.

But now, across the former Western Province, the tide is changing with the young crop of politicians coming out aggressively to edge out their seniors.

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“Time has come for old guards to exit stage for young leaders with fresh ideas to give the Luhya community political direction. Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula should drop the tired Luhya unity talk and give me, Osotsi and Khaniri opportunity to lead our people,” Malala said.

Political kingpin

Osotsi, who hails from Vihiga, said the community continues to lag behind in terms of socio-economic and political development.

“Western has suffered for many years due to lack of good leadership. We had Cyrus Jirongo, Kenneth Marende, Fred Gumo, Eugene Wamalwa but we remain stagnated,” he said.

The MP said although Mudavadi has been propped as the region’s political kingpin, the ANC leader has been unable to marshal enough support.

“We risk not producing a strong leader capable of leading the country if we continue recycling same leaders.”

Savula, on the other hand has warned Mudavadi and Wetang’ula not to squander their opportunity.

“Come 2022, they should clear the way for me to lead. We need strong and focused leadership,” said Savula who is keen on succeeding Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

He added that the region requires leaders who can help revive collapsed industries, including the Webuye Pan Paper Mills, Mumias Sugar and Nzoia Sugar Company.

In Busia, Amos Wako and John Bunyasi seem to have their days numbered even as former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and Paul Otuoma fight to have their presence felt.

Similarly, in Bungoma, Lawyer Edwin Sifuna and journalists David Makali and Boniface Nyongesa lead the pack of youthful leaders causing political shock waves.

Ruto wave

But the younger leaders are in agreement that their criticism does not mean they do not value the old guards.

“It happened in Central Kenya and Rift Valley areas when retired President Mwai Kibaki exited and now President Uhuru Kenyatta came up with a fresh lineup to galvanise Central Kenya. Deputy President William Ruto also took control of Rift Valley region despite retired President Daniel Moi’s presence,” said Osotsi.

Echesa is of the view that Western should back Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022. He has challenged Oparanya to join Ruto’s bandwagon.

“You may not get enough votes to make you president; I urge you to support our neighbour (Ruto),” he told the governor when the two shared a platform in Mumias East last week.

Recent divisions within NASA coalition could stoke the fire for a generational change in the region that has in the past had several botched attempts at the presidency.


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