By STEVE MKAWALE
United Republican Party and Kanu are set for bruising battle in the race for the inaugural Baringo County governor seat.
Also to feature in the warfront is the influence of the former and longest serving President Moi, given this is his home county. Moi was elected a representative of Baringo Central in 1966 and served as President from 1978 to 2002.
So far five aspirants have expressed interest for the seat among them the former Higher Education Loans Board chief executive secretary Benjamin Cheboi and Samson Chelugui, who will fight it out for the URP ticket while Mr Stanley Kiptis is running on a Kanu ticket.
Cheboi is one of the professional public servants who quit their plum jobs recently to join elective politics, in tandem with set laws.
Others in the race are former Chemelil Sugar Company Managing Director Aaron Tuikong, Samson Kibii (Kenda party) and Lawrence Kibiwott.
Tuikong said should he be elected as the first governor for Baringo County, he will turn around the area into a model county through use of natural resources to create wealth and improve lives of the residents who are mainly pastoralists. He adds that he is ready to face his competition and exuded confidence that he will emerge the winner in the elections.
The county has amazing scenery that contributes millions to the exchequer every financial year through tourism. However despite this massive contribution to the national coffers, it’s ranked among the poorest region with hunger killing hundreds each year, cattle rustling also adds to this death toll.
The motherland of honey, aloe vera, sisal and diverse culture is spoilt for choice for a suitable candidate to be the first governor of the newly established county.
On the county challenges, aspirant Kibii adopts the words of US President Barack Obama saying, “We (residents of Baringo) should be the change we seek”.
Some of his agendas for the county include road and ICT infrastructure, a customised technical education that will lead to employment and wealth creation, a revolutionary agricultural framework with a guaranteed minimum return insurance scheme, youth and women empowerment, tapping vast tourism potential, and ensuring security for development and progress.
Baringo covers six constituencies — Baringo Central, Baringo North, Baringo South, Eldama Ravine, Baringo East and Mogotio.
Mr Charles Kamuren, a resident and a professional teacher, says since 1992, Kanu dominated politics in Baringo County but in 2007 two constituencies — Baringo Central and East Pokot — went against the tide and voted in ODM and PNU candidates.
“Voters in the region have become mature and are ready to pick the best candidate for the governorship regardless of party politics,” says Kamuren, a teacher by profession.
The race for governorship has attracted top scholars from the county who have made numerous promises to voters. The scholars who have excelled in various fields are promising to make good use of the resources, tackle unemployment among the youth, end insecurity caused by cattle rustling, expand limited health facilities and generally improve lives of the people.
Unemployment among the youth, limited hospital facilities and wanting education standards are some of the challenges awaiting the inaugural governor.
Although Baringo is endowed with enormous resources, the region is still ranked among the poorest counties in the country.
“Whoever will make it as the inaugural governor will have a huge task of improving and setting up health facilities. Childhood and maternal morbidity and mortality remain too high,” observes a businessman William Kipsiele.
Need for Urgency
Chelugui concurs that the number of health workers in the region is still too low and hospital resources are continually overstretched.
“These issues need a competent leader, who can mobilise resources and work towards improving the health facilities,” says Chelugui.
He also cites insecurity on the borders of Baringo North and East as another challenge that needs to be addressed with urgency.
“The fight for resources along the borders and cattle rustling has been major source of insecurity in the area,” says Chelugui.
Since Baringo is one of the leading tourist destinations, the governor must encourage investors to develop the industry and thoroughly market tour destinations in Lakes Baringo, Bogoria and Kamnarok.
“The governor must also aim at making sure no school-going child fails to go past primary level,” says Kamuren.
Just like in other parts of the country, unemployment remains to be one of the crises the youth are experiencing in Baringo. The governor elect will need to come up with plans to empower the youth by sourcing funds to support them implement their ideas and run their businesses.
URP and Kanu will be battling it out for the governorship.