Opposition leaders largely skipped Jamhuri Day celebrations that also recorded lower turnout compared to last year’s event.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders and supporters kept away from venues, some arguing that attending the fete would have amounted to approval of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.
County commissioners took charge of the celebrations and read President Uhuru’s speech. They called for an end to politicking and focus on development.
Most of the venues where the events were held in Nyanza region registered near-zero attendance, with county governors in Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, and Migori skipping it all together.
In Migori, County Commissioner Joseph Rotich read the President’s speech to an empty ground, with only dignitaries from the national government seated at the dais.
Governor Okoth Obado sent a sub-county administrator, Kennedy Abongo, to read his brief speech.
The Kisumu, Siaya, and Homa Bay governors did not send any representatives, leaving the function to the county commissioners.
Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who was away in Nairobi, said he had deliberately skipped the event.
“We as NASA do not recognise the illegitimate government of Uhuru Kenyatta, so we are celebrating Jamhuri in our own way,” said Prof Nyong’o on the phone.
All county leaders in Homa Bay also skipped the event held at Posta grounds in Ndhiwa sub-county. The few people who showed up disappeared soon after the entertainment, leaving County Commissioner Kassim Farrah to read the President’s speech to the empty ground.
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The situation was the same in Siaya, where county leaders were missing from the event held at the county stadium. County Commissioner Josephine Onunga, who led government officials in celebrating the fete, said it was time to stop politics and focus on development.
In Nandi, County Commissioner Lucy Mulili expressed disappointment at the turnout at the Kapsabet showground.
Governor Stephen Sang and his deputy, Yulita Mitei, graced the occasion that also saw the absence of senator, six MPs, woman representative, and many members of the county assembly.
The situation was replicated in Trans Nzoia, where the absence of county executive committee members and senior county government officials attracted the attention of Governor Patrick Khaemba.
The governor demanded an explanation for the officers’ failure to attend the national fete at Kitale ASK showground. He also condoled with the families of 19 people who died at Kamukuywa Bridge on Monday night in a road accident. He called for a ban on the movement of tractors at night.
In Uasin Gishu, tough talk on rising cases of insecurity and increased number of street children in Eldoret town dominated speeches at the 64 Stadium as Governor Jackson Mandago led residents in marking the day.
In West Pokot, leaders asked opposition leader Raila Odinga to wait until 2022 to vie for the presidency.
In Mombasa all elected leaders from the Opposition skipped the celebrations. Only a handful of residents turned up for the celebrations at Tononoka grounds.
Speaking during celebrations in Taita Taveta at Wundanyi at Dawson Mwanyumba stadium, Governor Granton Samboja maintained that Mackinnon Road township and Miasenyi trading centre belonged to the county and not to Kwale.
The disputed Mackinon and Mtito Andei border towns have been at the centre of conflict between the county and its neighbours, Kwale and Makueni.
In Bungoma, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati and County Commissioner Joshua Chepcheng’ held parallel celebrations in Webuye and Kanduyi constituencies respectively.
In Kakamega, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya took advantage of the celebrations to officially launch the newly refurbished Bukhungu Stadium.
Leaders present called for peace even as the political dust witnessed last in the past few months begins to settle.
County Commissioner Kangethe Thuku at one point had difficulty reading the President’s speech when sections of the crowd shouted him down.
Also conspicuously missing in yesterday’s event in Busia was Governor Sospeter Ojaamong.
County Commissioner Michael Tialal led the poorly attended function skipped by local leaders.
In Vihiga, the function was held at Mbale grounds, where Governor Wilber Ottichilo was among the few politicians in attendance.
Turnout was also low in the South Rift region, with county and national government officials addressing an empty Kenyatta stadium in Maralal town, Samburu county.
Governor Moses Lenolkulal’s speech was read by a sub-county administrator.
In Narok, Governor Samuel Tunai led Jamhuri Day celebrations at Iloiboti Primary School in Nairagie Enkare, Narok East Constituency.
Governor Tunai urged the residents to take advantage of the new county bursary system to take their children to school.
“My government puts aside Sh100 million shillings every financial year for bursary allocations,” he said.
The celebration’s were well attended in Nyandarua County, where Governor Francis Kimemia promised to honour Mau Mau veterans.
He said the county government would cater for the veteran’s medical care through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
In Bomet, Governor Joyce Laboso announced that she had started implementing her manifesto.
In Nyeri, Governor Mutahi Kahiga committed to putting up a monument in honour of Dedan Kimathi as recognition of the freedom fighter’s contribution to Kenya’s freedom.
Speaking during Jamhuri Day celebrations at the Dedan Kimathi Kamukunji grounds, Mr Kahiga said the monument would be unveiled next year.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, the only legislator to attend the function, left in the middle of the celebrations.
In Tharaka Nithi County, leaders vowed to claim their rightful share from the Jubilee administration. Led by Governor Muthomi Njuki, the leaders said the county had been neglected by previous regimes.
In Murang’a County, leaders called for a consultative meeting to deliberate on the ways to deal with bar operators. County Commissioner John Elungata said he was disturbed that cheap liquor and illicit brews were creeping back into the region.