Mudavadi, Oparanya in fierce fight for Western
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya are engaged in a bitter battle for a stake in a prospective Azimio-One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza Alliance governments after the August polls.
The two have been promised plum positions by their respective presidential candidates; former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Azimio and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya Kwanza.
Ruto has promised to appoint Mudavadi as his Prime Cabinet Secretary if he wins the August 9 State House race. Raila has, on the other hand, picked Oparanya as his designated Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury. Oparanya is completing his second term as governor and maintains that he is still in active politics.
Political leaders and analysts allied to the two say the forthcoming General-Election is is a do-or-die affair for both. “We are firmly behind Governor Oparanya because we presently view him as our community’s kingpin,” Lugari MP Ayub Savula says.
He added: “If somebody makes you CS for National Treasury then he is simply preparing you for State House. We have a future president in our midst and we can not dare waste this opportunity.”
Savula is the running-mate for Kakamega ODM governor candidate Fernandes Barasa. Mudavadi’s allies on the other hand have defended his decision to join forces with Ruto.
“Hon Mudavadi still has a bright political future. He has the credentials and is acceptable across the board. He has worked with Raila in the past. So what is his crime working with Ruto today?” posed Fred Ikana, a close ally of Mudavadi’s who is seeking the Shinyalu parliamentary seat on an ANC ticket.
“Mudavadi was also at the Treasury and we are not even sure if Oparanya will land there because this is just a promise that may never come to pass,” Ikana added.
Oparanya appears determined to have a grip on Kakamega, which has been the main political stronghold of Mudavadi, besides his Vihiga home county.
Oparanya’s associates yesterday said he was out to battle for the “cake of Kakamega county.” “Kakamega is the most-populous county in the Luhya nation and the hotbed of Western politics but many feel it has always been sidelined when it comes to development matters,” Geoffrey Mitalo, the ODM county Secretary-General said.
Mitalo said Oparanya would not just represent the interests of Kakamega but other Luhyas while at the Exchequer.
“Political leadership is dynamic. Mudavadi had his time since 1989, so it is just logical that he lets our people start on a new slate through Oparanya who performed very well as MP for Butere, Minister for Planning and Governor,” he added.
Kenya Kwanza is currently fractious, especially after a clash between their governorship candidate Cleophas Malalah of ANC and Boni Khalwale, who is seeking to return to Senate via United Democratic Alliance. Khalwale was a no-show when Mudavadi and Malalah held campaigns in the county over the weekend.
Mudavadi is finding it bumpy even in Vihiga where his ANC candidates are facing tough competition from those allied to Ruto’s UDA, Raila’s ODM and United Democratic Party of former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo. Mudavadi has rallied his Vihiga backyard to back ANC candidates to give him a strong bargaining power under Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
“I want you my people to give me many Members of County Assembly, MPs, governor, Women Rep and senator on ANC party to make me strong,” Mudavadi said while campaigning in Vihiga two weeks ago.
Weighing in on the matter, Desterio Okumu, a political analyst said: “The outcome of the forthcoming elections will either completely bury the political ambitions of, in particular, Mudavadi or hand him a lifeline.” “You can imagine what happens if he fails to even deliver the Vihiga governorship seat the way it happened in 2017? Will Ruto take him seriously no matter the presidential results of August 9?” he posed.