• A team supporting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and who are mostly aligned to the ODM leader Raila Odinga has planned for a second BBI consultative meeting in Bukhungu Stadium.
• Parallel to the Bukhungu meeting is another regional meeting in Mumias town to discuss the economic development of the region especially the Mumias Sugar Company revitalisation plans.
Rival political camps in Western Kenya will test their popularity this Saturday in twin parallel meetings staged few kilometres from each other.
A team supporting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and who are mostly aligned to the ODM leader Raila Odinga has planned for a second BBI consultative meeting in Bukhungu Stadium.
Parallel to the Bukhungu meeting is another regional meeting in Mumias town to discuss the economic development of the region especially the Mumias Sugar Company revitalisation plans.
Whereas Raila will attend the Bukhungu summit, his co-principals in the defunct Nasa coalition Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula are expected to join other regional leaders in Mumias town.
The BBI regional summits have caused a political storm sucking in Deputy President William Ruto who has termed them ODM’s project.
“We accept that BBI/handshake has been hijacked to craft ODM's 2022 political line up. Unity/inclusivity pretense and associated squander of public resources should stop. Unity? the opposition (NASA) is already dismembered/dead; now dividing Jubilee,” Ruto tweeted yesterday.
The pro-BBI leaders led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya held a pre-summit meeting yesterday at Nzoia Sports Club.
ANC boss Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula reading from DP’s script termed the regional meetings biased political rallies “where paid participants will be whipped to pass ready-made partisan resolutions tailored to fit desired results.”
They further said the intended extended mandate of the BBI taskforce has not been actualised through gazettement.
“In the absence of such legal backing, rallies held under BBI umbrella at which public money is used are illegal. It does not matter that it is the national government spending; it is illegal to spend public money uselessly especially given the hard-economic times our people are experiencing,” the two party leaders said in a joint statement.
They claimed that governors who have not even received a copy of the BBI report have been put under pressure to organise these regional meetings.
They called for the postponement of the rally scheduled for January 18 in Kakamega until leaders in the Western region have an opportunity to reach consensus.
“It will serve an extremely in-erasable blot on the region if the BBI will be the vehicle that is used to divide the leadership of the region, rather than uniting our people,” the statement added.
The duo, however, said they all welcomed the BBI report and are not against the initiative.
Speaking to the Star separately yesterday, Mudavadi added that the forums should not be used to collect views from people who have not seen the BBI report.
“It seems like BBI is being used as a campaign for 2022 elections,” he said.
Mudavadi regretted that the scheduled BBI meeting in Kakamega has already divided leaders from the western region.
“It is currently not helping because it is destroying the little unity that is there,” he said.
Mumias East MP Ben Washiali whose constituency Mumias Sugar is located denied claims of organising BBI parallel meeting.
He said their meeting was planned before the BBI summit.
“It is not parallel, in fact BBI is what you may call parallel. As leaders from the western region, we have always been wishing that something is done on the plight of Mumias Sugar.
“I don’t know whether these BBI organisers knew we had arranged that for them to create a picture that we are in a coalition with their summit,” Washiali told Star on the phone.
He said the was surprising that there is another campaign for BBI.
From onset, we have said we have no problem with the report. We are in a country with serious unemployment, why are we wasting time on a matter that has been resolved? he asked.
Washiali said the Mumias meeting will start with a boardroom brief by the company’s receiver-manager before the leaders proceed to Mumias town for a major rally ‘to explain to the farmers and give them confidence that all is well’.
But nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi dismissed the Mumias meeting as ‘myopic diversionary tactic’ meant to stop the people from the western region from having robust public discourse on the BBI.
“Those opposed to our meeting are free to go ahead with theirs at Mumias Sugar on the same day.
“ But they must be told that the issue of Mumias Sugar, Panpaper, Mudete Tea factory will be part of the BBI discourse and that no visionary leader will celebrate a receiver-manager,” Osotsi said.
Ford Kenya secretary general Simiyu Eseli said he would not attend the meeting in Mumias.
“If the Bukhungu meeting is not of any use, then why should I be going to Mumias. Personally, I do not like reactionary activities,” he said.
He warned that both ODM and Jubilee leaders from the region might be playing games with locals.
“The Jubilee MPs want to talk about the bad performing economy yet they are in government. They will just be shedding crocodile tears,” Eseli added.
Mudavadi said organisers of the Mumias event are yet to make it clear to them what that gathering intends to achieve.
“We expect a briefing from them by Wednesday. Only then we can be sure what the meeting is all about,” he said.
The Bukhungu meeting comes barely a week after the first BBI consultative meeting in Kisii bringing together governors from Kisii, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori and Siaya counties.
Similar meetings are also planned for Eastern, Coast, Rift Valley, Central and Nairobi regions.