Rift governor seat aspirants vetting deputies to meet deadline

Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui with his deputy Dr Eric Korir (left) addressing the press at Nyayo Gardens on June 4, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

With just a few hours to the Monday deadline for governor seat aspirants to pick their running mates, the Rift valley region has witnessed a flurry of political activities as hopefuls unveil their choices.

After going through party primaries, the aspirants are making their choices based on regional and ethnic balance, academic credentials, employment and leadership track records.

Most of governor seat aspirants believe that their choices would make or break their careers.

It has not been an easy task though, with candidates carefully balancing various political and social interests in their respective regions.

In cosmopolitan counties, governor seat aspirants were careful to ensure ethnic and regional balance- lest they upset some voting bloc.

In Nakuru, governor Lee Kinyanjui and his rival Senator Susan Kihika are set to pick running mates from Kuresoi South constituency due to what started as negotiated democracy among the Kikuyus and Kalenjins, the county's two largest communities. 

It is believed that Kinyanjui, for the Jubilee Party, will retain his deputy Dr Eric Korir, who hails from the constituency.

Early in the year, Kinyanjui said he had no intentions changing his assistant because he had performed as was expected of him. 

Dr Korir, a former University of Nairobi lecturer has been dubbed the ‘good deputy’ by residents due to his tendency to speak "on behalf of our governor."

Big announcement

He has been instrumental in consolidating support for Kinyanjui among the Kalenjins especially in Kuresoi South, Kuresoi North and parts of Njoro where the community has a sizeable population.

On her part, Ms Kihika is set to make the big announcement today, bringing to an end months of speculation on her running mate.

Kihika said that she had picked a group of elders to help her select a running mate.

“The elders forwarded to me sixteen names. Picking one has been an overwhelming task. I had some interactions with them and I will announce my running mate on Sunday,” said Kihika.

She said that she was looking for experience, competence and someone who would persuade voters from the region to vote for her and ultimately for Deputy President William Ruto.

In Narok County, UDA  governor candidate Patrick Ntutu went for youth and ethnic consideration by picking Mathew Kipkorir, a 30-year-old civil engineer from the Kipsigis community.

The community is one of the largest voting blocs in Narok and previously ensured victory for outgoing Governor Samuel Tunai.

"As the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, we have decided to pick a youth as my deputy in the incoming elections as a way of recognising them," Ntutu said on Monday.

"My campaign team has also deliberately considered ethnicity and we welcome all other tribes working and living here as our own because we would like to thrive with them."

His main opponent in the race is ODM's Moitalel ol Kenta. The Azimio la Umoja coalition candidate is yet to pick a running mate but he is likely to settle for a person from the Maasai community.

In Trans Nzoia, George Natembeya has picked Philomena Bineah Kapkor as the running mate

Bineah, an alumni of the University of Nairobi, hails from the Sabaot community that forms the second largest voting bloc after the Bukusu.

The former Rift Valley Regional Commissioner made good his promise to members of the Sabaot community. 

However, he ignored all the names submitted to him by a task force that sought to vet potential candidates for his running mate pick.

Among those vetted were John Mengwa, a former Trans Nzoia Water and Environment chief officer, Isaac Ndiema alias Omar who worked in clearing and forwarding agencies, Martin Ngomat who is also an agronomist, Stanley Kirui who is a pilot and educationist Geoffrey Cherongis. 

Bineah is a banker and worked at Kitale and Bungoma branches of Barclays, now Absa. She also served as the bank's vice president for the Africa based in Mombasa and later in Nairobi. 

Joshua Irungu, the UDA governor seat candidate for Laikipia has settled on Reuben Kamuri as his running mate.

Kamuri is a bio-technologist with hands-on experience on process control and quality assurance, according to a statement sent to newsrooms by Irungu.

By picking Kamuri, he is keen on winning the support of Laikipia East constituency, which in 2017 had the second largest number of voters at 88,886. Lakipia West where Irungu comes from has 110,930 registered voters

“In the management of public affairs, he believes that governments should be driven by the desire to empower people, to deliver services and develop a motivated public service,” Irungu said of the running mate.

He will be facing Governor Ndiritu Muriithi who is vying on a Jubilee party ticket under the Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition and Mburu Kamau, an independent candidate.

Retain his deputy

Stanley Kiptis, the Baringo governor who is seeking a second term as an independent candidate, is yet to pick his running mate after he ditched Jacob Chepkwony.

He said that the position has attracted four people and promised to release the name of his pick today.

“We are working on my running mate, four people have applied for the position but I have told them to agree amongst themselves on who will be my deputy. I want transparency,” Kiptis said.

The relationship between Kiptis and Chepkwony remains unpredictable. In April, the governor told journalists that he was going to retain his deputy because it was a contract.

But reliable sources revealed that at some point last year, the deputy was about to walk away and that the governor had not been involving the deputy while campaigning.

Our efforts to get comments from Benjamin Cheboi UDA flag bearer and Moses Lessonet were in vain as our text messages and calls went unanswered. 

Additional reporting by Martin Ndiema, Kennedy Gachuhi and Yvonne Chepkwony