After being out of public limelight for at least five years, several veteran politicians in the Rift Valley will contest in the August General Election.
Observers predict a bruising political battle this year between the senior politicians and those who floored them in the last election.
Majority of those eager for a comeback contested through ODM in the last polls but have all decamped to the Jubilee Party (JP).
Some served as Cabinet ministers in the Grand Coalition Government under former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Among them are those who lost to political ‘greenhorns’.
Most veterans with vast resources, experience and massive political networks are keen on county positions and could give the incumbents a run for their money.
“It is going to be really tough for leaders elected in 2013 because most of them rode on political euphoria,” says lawyer Kiprotich Cherargei.
Former Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey announced his comeback during the funeral of former Kanu politician Mark Too on January 9 when he said he had joined Jubilee Party.
The former ODM chairman has been holding high profile tours as he tries to consolidate support to contest the Nandi gubernatorial seat.
Kosgey, the long serving Tinderet MP, lost to Stephen Sang in 2013 senatorial polls. The former contested on an ODM ticket.
Interestingly, Sang has also declared he will go for the governor seat, promising another bruising battle.
“If you elect me, I will accord equal representation to the one million residents of Nandi County. I will be a governor for all, not a few,” Kosgey said recently, adding: “The agitation for generational change witnessed in 2103 election was just hot air. The electorate’s aspirations were not met thus I have decided to contest for the governor seat to offer leadership to wanainchi.”
Former Kenyan envoy to Australia Stephen Tarus is eyeing the Chesumei parliamentary seat. Tarus also served as Emgwen MP between 2002 and 2007. Just like his peers, the politician believes he lost the elections because of choice of party after contesting through a PNU.
“In 2007 elections, the ODM wave in Rift valley was big and I was among the political casualties. But in 2013 when I contested for the governorship, the sham URP nominations locked me out. I believe this time around things will be smooth,” he said.
He said while serving as an MP, he made great strides in development and will be banking on his record to secure votes.
Dr Sally Kosgey, the former Aldai MP, is said to be eyeing an elective seat, though she has maintained a low profile. Former Mosop MP David Koech has not been left out. He recently announced his bid to reclaim his seat.
In Uasin Gishu County, the scenario is the same and leading the pack is Prof Margaret Kamar, who lost the gubernatorial race to Jackson Mandago. Prof Kamar, the former Eldoret East MP, contested on an ODM ticket but is this time going for the Senate seat under Jubilee. Former Eldoret East MP Joseph Lagat has also trained his eyes on the senate seat.
Peris Simam, the former Eldoret South MP will go for the Uasin Gishu Women Rep seat while former MP David Koros will contest the Kesses parliamentary seat.
In Elgeyo Marakwet, the Anti-FGM board chairperson Linah Jebii Kilimo is seeking to regain her Marakwet East seat which she lost after contesting on a TNA ticket. Kilimo said residents had asked her to vie for the seat to complete projects she had initiated during her 10-year stint.
“Residents want me back. They claim that since I was voted out in 2013, no meaningful development has taken place even with the advent of devolution,” she said. Lucas Chepkitony, the former Keiyo North MP will contest the seat on a Jubilee ticket. In West Pokot, Samuel Poghisio will be battling to win the senatorial seat against former Kapenguria MP Julius Murgor. Poghisio served as Kacheliba MP and plans to contest on a Kanu ticket while Murgor will use Jubilee Party after decamping from ODM.
In Trans Nzoia, it is only Kipruto Arap Kirwa who has announced he will use the Amani National Congress (ANC) to seek the senate seat. Presidential advisor Joshua Kuttuny, who lost to Wesley Korir, will battle it out for the Cherangany seat on a Jubilee Party ticket.
Former cabinet minister and Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma is also plotting a comeback. He will contest through the Jubilee Party after ditching the Orange party.
Veteran politician Koigi Wamwere shocked many last year when he announced he had joined the Jubilee Party despite having been a fierce critic of the government since it took power in 2013.
Wamwere will be vying for the Nakuru senatorial seat where he is expected to face off with Susan Kihika, daughter of the late maverick politician Kihika Kimani, who was a political rival of Wamwere in the 1970s.
The former Subukia MP believes he has what it takes to clinch the senatorial seat. In 2013, he lost to newcomer James Mungai. Wamwere has used the low political profile of the incumbent senator to market himself as the man to bring back the voice of Nakuru, traditionally known for vibrant politics.
“Elect me as you senator so that I can be your voice in the Senate. I will be involved in the budget making process and protect your funds in the county from being misappropriated by corrupt leaders,” he told residents.
Former Naivasha MP John Mututho is also preparing to stage a comeback and is eyeing the Nakuru gubernatorial seat. Mututho lost the Naivasha seat after performing dismally in the 2013 TNA nominations where he lost to newcomer John Kihagi. He believes he has what it takes to manage county affairs.
He will face off with Governor Kinuthia Mbugua and former Nakuru Town MP Lee Kinyanjui who opted not to have his term as the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) chairman renewed last August to concentrate on campaigns.
Lawyer Cherargei says majority of the youthful leaders elected in Rift Valley during the last elections have failed to perform well as per expectations.
“Majority of the incumbent leaders were elected on a platform of turning around the fortunes of the locals. But some have performed dismally to the extent that voters are unhappy,” said Cherargei.