Eugene Wamalwa claims his push for Luhya unity made him enemies

"I invited Mudavadi and Wetang'ula to my late brother's anniversary in 2018. Among other things, we did a handshake for Luhya unity, which we called 'unity of purpose'. Indeed, I had earlier met Wetangula in May that year in Bungoma and we did a handshake," Wamalwa says.

After the memorial service, the duo asked him to arrange a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta since, at the time, he was the only Cabinet Secretary from Western. The purpose of meeting was to discuss how Mumias and Nzoia Sugar companies could be revived, as well as how to set up a gold refinery in Kakamega and a granite factory in Vihiga.

An August 24, 2018 tweet by Mudavadi read: "Together with other leaders, we attended the 15th-anniversary celebration of late Hon Michael Kijana Wamalwa. Just as the late Wamalwa did, we have vowed to unite western Kenya. We want to work together so that we all move forward and change people's lives for the better," Mudavadi wrote.

"That is what got me into trouble with Ruto who at the time was Deputy President. He saw my attempt to bring Luhya leaders together as an impediment to his march to the State House in 2022. A united Luhya vote was not good for his plans," said Wamalwa.

He said Ruto then devised a plan to get him fired. "He later confronted me and demanded I tender my resignation. I did not do that but instead sought to find out from President Uhuru if he had demanded my resignation. Uhuru said no, and assured me he was the appointing authority and nobody was going to fire me without his approval. In fact, Uhuru moved me to the Defence docket. That rubbed Ruto the wrong way," he added.

In 2022, while attending Malala Cup tournament in Mumias, Ruto dismissed those calling for Luhya unity "as political brokers who want to auction the community to the highest bidder".

Today, Wetang'ula is National Assembly Speaker and Mudavadi is Prime Cabinet Secretary in the Kenya Kwanza government that brings together United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Amani National Congress (ANC), FORD-Kenya and other small political parties.

"Ruto believes by having Wetang'ula and Mudavadi in his corner, he has secured the Luhya vote, but a surprise awaits him in 2027. I will not be a party to using the Luhya to extend the rule of shareholders in Kenya. I will contest the presidency. He must know that the Luhya have other sons and political parties that will participate in the 2027 General Election. No one is going to pocket the Luhya," Wamalwa says.

It remains to be seen whether Luhya unity will work for or against Ruto. Political analyst Kennedy Echesa believes Ruto can't risk having all his eggs in one basket. "Ruto is looking at Western as an alternative reliable voting bloc to Central Kenya."