Wetang'ula goes for Lusaka in Bungoma governor's contest


Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka launched his Bungoma gubernatorial seat bid at Bungoma Posta Grounds on March 11, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

In an interesting twist of events at Bungoma Posta Grounds on Friday, Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula, who frustrated Ken Lusaka’s re-election as Bungoma governor in 2017, unveiled him as his party’s preferred governor candidate.

He in fact picked him from his Mapera home in Kimilili and addressed roadside rallies in Kimilili, Chwele, Mayanja and Kanduyi on the wat to the historic grounds.

“Bungoma was being run like a private estate. You asked me to show you the way and today, I brought you Lusaka who will breathe sanity into the county’s leadership,” he said while issuing a Ford Kenya life member certificate to the Senate Speaker.

Wetang’ula said as he plays national politics, he needs a true soldier like Lusaka on the ground who would not “auction the county”.

This was unlike in 2017, when Wetang’ula introduced Wangamati, a political novice, to the people and campaigned for him vigorously while chastising Lusaka, accusing him of presiding over the plunder of public resources such as the contentious purchase of non-carcinogenic wheelbarrows at Sh109,000 each.

Lusaka vied on a Jubilee Party ticket and lost to the incumbent largely because of the  onslaught from Wetang’ula, then a NASA principal whose word was effective.

Wangamati won the seat on a Ford Kenya ticket with a margin of 21,493 votes after garnering 197,422 votes against Lusaka’s 175, 929 votes.

MPs Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula), who has joined Ford Kenya, Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Majimbo Kalasinga (Kabuchai) and  Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma Woman Rep) attended the event and are supporting Lusaka’s second stab at the top seat.

Ford Kenya Secretary General Chris Wamalwa, Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza MP), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) and Eala Abdikadir Aden were also present.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and his Tongaren counterpart Eseli Simiyu are supporting the re-election of Governor Wangamati on Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K).

Lusaka said that he joined Ford Kenya since it has a history of redemption, equality and truth.

“If you have a good tree but it has snakes and bees and you don’t cut it down, the snakes will bite you and the bees can sting you to death. In my second return, I am coming to correct the mess that has been brought about by the current regime,” Lusaka said.

He went on: “I am coming back to fix the mess in the county. With a budget of Sh6 billion, I used to give 750 bags (50 kilo bags) of subsidised fertiliser and seeds  to farmers across the 45 wards of Bungoma yet my successor gives a paltry 350 bags of fertiliser in each ward with a budget of over Sh12 billion. This is making the county food insecure.”

He has vowed to empower local contractors to ensure there is constant cash flow within the county in order to spur economic growth.

Lusaka believes his experience as a governor and Senate speaker will enable him serve the people better.

“The last time, it was an uphill task seeking re-election on a Jubilee ticket. I am using Ford Kenya as it is a party that resonates well with the ground. Jubilee bagged some MP seats but I lost the governor position. I cannot go in that direction again,” said Lusaka.

But Wangamati is promising Lusaka a bruising battle and is confident he will secure a second term based on his development track record citing the construction of the 6.5km Musikoma-Kanduyi dual carriageway to de-congest Bungoma town at a cost of Sh1.3 billion, a 5,000-seater Kanduyi stadium at a cost of Sh700 million and the 300-bed capacity Bungoma Referral Hospital, among other projects.

“The governor scholarship programme has benefited more than 4,000 needy but bright students who joined both national and extra county schools across the country.