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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Murmurs as Eugene hands New Ford-K mantle to Lusaka



Eugene Wamalwa has finally handed over New Ford Kenya party mantle to Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka having beaten a hasty retreat from his earlier talk with minority leader and Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula to support him in the next presidential race.
 Flaunting their best attributes to the party New Ford Kenya, amid loud whispers within the party hierarchy, Eugene and Lusaka pledged to add vibrancy and value to the party which according to political pundits, was folding under the armpits of Ford Kenya had it not been the new Jubilee appointment for Wamalwa.
Sources within the party said party diehards had to swallow a bitter pill in presiding over the leadership transition at Sagret Hotel in Nairobi that saw Lusaka at the leadership peak in the low-keyed function. NFK members from Busia, Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga, Mumias and Bungoma gave the function a wide berth after it turned that Wamalwa was poised to hand over the  mantle to Lusaka without their approval.
Observers divulged that Wamalwa had fallen short of options having been appointed by Uhuru Kenyatta as cabinet secretary in-charge of Water and had to unwillingly relinquish his position as party leader.
Lusaka has lost a sizeable chunk of supporters in Bungoma county from his New Ford Kenya party to Wetangula’s Ford Kenya. Earlier, Wamalwa had been in talks with Wetang’ula to have the Ford party’s merge as was earlier under the late Masinde Muliro.
The agreement reached was that Wetang’ula was to support Eugene to vie for Trans Nzoia governor seat as he supports Wetang’ula’s presidential bid, which Amani coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi had fallen to the arrangement.
Wetang’ula had agreed not to field a candidate for the gubernatorial seat in Trans Nzoia as long as Wamalwa’s support is guaranteed. However, his appointment ruffled feathers and threw spanners in the works with architects of the talks including Amani coalition leader Mudavadi, choosing to walk a different path.
Mudavadi who had earlier been approached alongside Eugene turned down Uhuru’s appointment and instead floated the names of his spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi and longterm Kimilili UDF aspirant John Chikati as one of the directors of Nzoia Sugar Company.
Mudavadi much as he welcomed Wamalwa’s appointment, many see it as public relations since he was quoted having said he can not accept Uhuru’s appointment because he is his competitor. Kakamega senator Bonny Khalwale has been on the forefront criticising Wamalwa’s appointment, saying it was a diversionary tactic to have Luhyas lose focus on the presidency.
 Back to New Ford Kenya politics, Lusaka has a mountain to climb. At the heart of the threat are intrigues with Trans Nzoia national executive council members who had been vehemently opposed to Lusaka leadership saying he was a first time politician and had lost clout in his Bungoma backyard to Wetang’ula. However, they disclosed that they had been prevailed upon by Wamalwa saying he had to relinquish his position since he was a cabinet appointee.
 A former Trans Nzoia councillor and a party Nec member who chose anonymity and who attended the Nec special meeting said they were thinking of their next move since their loyalty was pegged on Eugene and not New Ford Kenya as a party.

“We have never known any party called New Ford Kenya. We had our party loyalty resting in Eugene and now that he has temporarily quit active politics, we are assessing our next move until he comes back to active politics. We fear the new party leader may not treat us well the way Eugene did since already, there is acrimony in the leadership in Bungoma county,” said the politician.
That Lusaka has been keen to revive his political glory that has with time dwindled is true. He had to scheme for a chance of reviving his political capital lost to Wetang’ula by rising to party leadership position and pledge to sponsor the party financially.
Sources within the party said that Eugene considered him due to his financial muscles at the expense of political merit, saying he had to rise through rank and file in fighting Wetang’ula as party leader. It is on record that Bungoma county is the first and only one hosting two party leaders - one as senator and the other as governor opposing each other in mass support.
Lusaka is however poised for turbulent waters as he takes on veteran politician Wetang’ula in the county that has seen political experts give him accolades. Pundits will be keen to watch as the contest between the two proceeds. Lusaka during the recent senatorial by-election, displayed leadership deficit after he chose to remain neutral in a contest pitting Wetang’ula and Musikari Kombo of NFK.
Later, Lusaka is said to have been prevailed upon by the party leadership to support Kombo’s candidature after a long silence. Thereafter, a panicky Lusaka went on firing salvos at Wetangu’la in a bid that did not bear fruits after Wetang’ula humiliated Kombo in a landslide victory. And in a show of fear Lusaka hurriedly approached Wetang’ula to extend an olive branch to seize fire.
It is a fact that Lusaka has failed to unite MCAs in his Bungoma backyard who have instead waged a war in his administration, a number from his party have thrown their weight behind his gubernatorial opponent Wycliffe Wangamati.
 The leader of minority Chap Musakali of NF K is walking a different path with the party leader Lusaka and now is a Wetang’ula sympathiser. Currently, all eyes are set on Lusaka’s leadership skills that may see NFK party prosper in the region or face extinction.