A group of former prominent leaders from Western, some who have been in the political cold for over a decade, have crawled out of their hideouts and are plotting a comeback in 2022 General Election.
They appear emboldened by the political realignments in Western and at the national stage.
Some of these leaders have been seen in the company of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula while others are coalescing around Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Notable among them is Amukowa Anangwe, a former Minister for Health and Butere MP, who is eyeing to succeed Oparanya in 2022 as governor of Kakamega.
Former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale is also positioning himself for the county’s top seat while former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma is being touted as a front-runner in Busia gubernatorial race come 2022.
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Former Assistant Ministers Alfred Khangati, Bifwoli Wakoli and Manyala Keya appear to be busy reactivating their campaign networks in readiness for a defining political duel in 2022.
Wakoli served as Bumula MP while Khangati and Keya represented Kanduyi and Lurambi constituencies respectively, but were kicked into political oblivion having just served one term in office.
Speculations are high that UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi, who is a former Kimilil MP, will make a comeback to the local political arena. Kituyi also served in President Mwai Kibaki’s Cabinet.
Other big names plotting a comeback are former National Assembly Speaker and Emuhaya MP Kenneth Marende, former MPs John Serut (Mount Elgon), Lisamula Anami (Shinyalu), David Were (Matungu), Julius Arunga (Khwisero), Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i), Bonface Otsiula (Bumula), Andrew Toboso (Butere), Rapahel Otaalo (Lurambi) and Mary Emase (Teso South).
But political analysts observe the former lawmakers may soon realise the journey back to the top is not a walk in the park.
Political cash cow
Martin Andati, a political analyst, argues that some could be looking for relevance and quick money.
“It is a fact some would not make any impact, but they are emboldened by the new political alignments. Some are finding it hard to be in the cold but they may be required to do a little more than just hanging on the coats of key political players in the run-up to 2022 General Election,” argues Andati.
Most have made up their mind which political side to belong to, while some are making calculated steps that would guarantee them a soft landing in a field full of intrigues, backstabbing and betrayal.
Those backing Mudavadi hope the former vice president would mount a strong campaign that may guarantee them wins in their comeback even if the ANC leader fails to clinch the presidency.
But there are those glued to Oparanya and Wamalwa hoping ODM will catapult them to their next stop should the party leader Raila Odinga decide to vie for the top seat as expected by his supporters.
Wamalwa and Oparanya are perceived Raila errand boys, sent to scuttle Mudavadi’s presidential quest. But the two have dismissed this assertion, arguing they are interested in a push for development projects in Western.
Mudavadi and Wetang’ula have challenged their competitors to woo western region without intimidation if they believe their messages resonate with the locals.
Otsiula, who is aligned to a team led by Wamalwa and Oparanya, told the Sunday Standard the duo were better placed to champion for development in western through revival of collapsed factories and implementing new projects.
“We stand to benefit more as a region from the Jubilee administration, but we must have the right people on the negotiating table. Luckily, we have Wamalwa and Oparanya. Let them do the bargaining with the support of all leaders,” argues Otsiula.
According to Otsiula, there are indications most stalled projects would be revived. He cited an earlier meeting between leaders from Western, led by Wamalwa and Oparanya with President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi and a follow-up engagement between the same leaders with Internal Security CS Fred Matiang’i and Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
Up to task
“We got Sh220 million for upgrade of Kitale airstrip and Sh174.7 million for rehabilitation of Kakamega airstrip. The State has written off Sh62 billion owed by sugar factories and cane farmers. It shows our leaders are up to the task,” Otsiula said.
However, Otsiula believes things would work well if Wamalwa and Oparanya brought on board Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.
“Going forward, we would like to see our leaders reading from the same script. We must reach out to Mudavadi and Wetang’ula because they could play a cardinal role in the push for economic growth of this region,” he said.
Marende, who has attended meetings organised by Oparanya and Wamalwa in Western, insists leaders from the region must bury the hatched and join hands for the sake of locals.
“We don’t want politics to take centre stage; we can work together for the common good of our people. Leaders must take advantage of the handshake to attract more resources to Western,” said Marende, whose has unsuccessfully attempted to recapture Emuhaya parliamentary seat.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula insists Mudavadi and the ANC party firmly supports the president’s development agenda and fight against corruption.
“We are ready to work with the president on matters of national interest for the benefit of all Kenyans. Those hell-bent to create enmity between Mudavadi and President Kenyatta will not succeed,” he said.