Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has raised heated debate after missing two recent functions attended by Deputy President William Ruto in the county.
Although MPs Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West) and his Nakuru Town East counterpart David Gikaria claim they invited the governor and notified him in advance about the two-day tour last week, Kinyanjui failed to turn up, neither did he send a representative from his administration.
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Early last month, Kinyanjui was conspicuously absent in another event presided over by Ruto. Last week, Ruto toured three constituencies in Nakuru without the county government sending any representative.
Traditionally, when a senior official or top Jubilee Party leader attends an event, local leaders, especially those from the party, show up almost automatically in solidarity with the government.
Arama and Gikaria who hosted the DP have indicated the governor might be charting a different political path away from Ruto ahead of the 2022 polls.
Gikaria has termed the governor’s absence as disrespect to the top Jubilee leadership.
“I personally invited him and discussed the issues we would raise during the meeting. He didn’t show up neither did he send a representative. No apology was sent either, despite him being within the county on that day,” said Gikaria.
The legislator termed the governor’s actions as “very embarrassing”.
“As local leaders, we raised some serious issues that needed to be addressed by the county government but the executive had no one to take the feedback to them,” he said.
Gikaria pointed out drainage and health issues as some of the matters discussed during the events for which the Deputy President pledged support to the county government.
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“In one of the events it became very embarrassing when the county Speaker stood up to represent the governor yet the two belong to two different arms of government. It was not the first time and is very annoying. He should at least have sent a county executive member,” he said.
Show of disunity
Mr Arama said, “It is true that I had invited the governor to the event but he never showed up. Most of the MCAs and other MPs attended the function. I don’t know yet why he didn’t show up or send a representative.”
During Ruto’s Nakuru Town East tour, Senator Susan Kihika termed Kinyanjui’s absence a show of disunity and disregard to the people and the country’s top leadership.
“There are some people who have been missing in top events in the county but we won’t speak a lot about them. They know themselves but it is worth noting that they are not represented here and in several other events,” said Kihika.
But Kinyanjui downplayed the issue, saying the leaders were being trivial. “Let us be a little serious here. I had other priorities to attend to. I don’t have to answer any of these allegations. My focus is on development and politics will be dealt with after work,” the governor told the Sunday Standard.
He said prior to the last weekend tour, he had accompanied the Deputy President to other events in the county. Governor Kinyanjui said he sought audience with Ruto at his Karen Residence Office a day after the Nakuru tour to thank him.
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“ I met the deputy president in Nairobi and we discussed development issues including his tour,” He said.
The governor accused the leaders of trying to politicise his absence at Ruto’s weekend tour, saying he would not be drawn into cheap politics.
There were claims that the governor met with senior county officials and warned them against attending the DP’s events in the county.
There were allegations that one of the local politicians had organised youth to heckle the governor if he attended the DP’s functions in the two constituencies.
“The governor had intelligence that some people had organised and paid some youth to heckle him during the tour because of his alleged poor development record. That is why Kinyanjui could not attend the events,” said one of Kinyanjui’s advisers who did not want to be named because he is not allowed to speak on behalf of the governor.
The Sunday Standard could not independently verify the claims.