Governor battles his deputy and 10 others in bid for Senate seat

Embu Governor Martin Wambora. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Twelve candidates are gearing up for an epic battle to clinch the Embu senatorial seat, with just eight days to go before the August 9 election.

Those eyeing the seat all boast of many years of experience in various sectors and are out to convince the electorate they are the best bet for the county.

Top issues in the cosmopolitan county mainly occupied by the Embu and Mbeere tribes but with significant Kamba and Kikuyu votes include the controversial Mwea Settlement Scheme that has seen locals collide with the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA), benefits from the Seven Forks hydropower dams and settlements in the Mwea Trust land.

Residents are also seeking solutions to improved earnings from tea, coffee and muguka as well as pushing for equitable sharing of resources.

Embu Governor and chair of Council of Governors Martin Wambora, who is eyeing the seat, will be leaving the governor’s office after completing his two terms.

Other contenders for the Senate seat are Wambora’s deputy, David Kariuki, a banker. The incumbent Njeru Ndwiga will also be defending his seat on an independent ticket after losing in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries to Kariuki.

Ndwiga is on his fourth term in parliament and is one of Mt Kenya’s veteran politicians having entered legislative politics as Manyatta MP on a Democratic Party (DP) ticket in 1992.

Former government Chief Whip and Kamukunji MP Norman Nyaga is also vying as an independent after losing out in the UDA nominations that he termed “shambolic and lacking transparency”.

Former Youth Affairs PS Lilian Mbogo will be flying the Jubilee ticket while Dr Frida Karani a former lecturer at the University of Embu will be flying TSP ticket.

Wambora is vying on his newly formed political party Umoja na Maendeleo (UM).

Speaking to the Sunday Standard, Kariuki said he is prepared to face his boss on the ballot.

“I have a competitive advantage over my challengers, having been the deputy governor and clearly know what the county is going through,” he added.

Governor Martin Wambora’s deputy, David Kariuki. [File, Standard]


He expressed confidence that he will defeat his boss and others in a fair political game. “I want to be the one who will help Wambora quit politics,” he said.

He hopes to have the backing of teachers, farmers and business people “whom he served so well” when he was the chief executive officer of Winnas Sacco for 17 years.

Kariuki resigned from his CEO position at Winnas Sacco to be Wambora’s running mate in 2017 and was not given any docket until three years into the term when he was named Health Executive. Last January, he quit the post saying he had not been given room to lead.

On his part, Wambora exudes confidence over his past roles, saying he has a wealth of experience in leadership and will particularly fight for allocation of more resources at the devolved units.

“No one understands devolution better than a governor who has served two terms. I want to help my successor avoid the challenges that I faced ,” Wambora said.

Having survived impeachment twice, his regime has been accused of many things but the former Runyenjes MP and District Commissioner is known to be a fighter who does not give up easily.

Former government Chief Whip Norman Nyaga who had declared retirement from active politics 10 years ago surprised many when he decided to vie for the seat.

“I have seen the disparity that has happened in Embu County and I feel it’s only fair to spare some energy, to counter some of the evil that is happening here,” Nyaga said.

He believes he lost the UDA nominations unfairly and has since shifted his allegiance to Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance.

Dr Karani who resigned from the University of Embu says she wants to breathe fresh air into the leadership of Embu County and use the Senate as a platform to transform lives of the poor.

She also boasts of promoting climate action and climate-smart practices by focusing on agriculture, and assisting the elderly, introducing microfinance institutions as well as initiatives seeking to empower women economically.

Former Youth PS Lillian Mbogo of Jubilee Party believes she is the most experienced to protect devolution and bring more resources to the devolved units.

Former Youth PS Lillian Mbogo. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

“I am a career woman who has been on the leadership and decision making tables for over 20 years. I served as CEO of NEPAD and with UNDP Kenya as Lead Officer for the Kenya Public Sector Reforms including the development of policy to drive devolution,” Mbogo said.

She is facing charges in court over alleged graft at the ministry during her tenure but she was hopeful the she will be vindicated.

Senator Njeru Ndwiga who is vying as an independent candidate after losing during the UDA primaries said he has been instrumental in the formulation of policies and laws on the agriculture sector.

Democratic Party’s Alexander Mundigi, is trying his hand at the seat for a second time after losing to Ndwiga in 2017 where he emerged second and is confident of a win this time round.

Mundigi said his first agenda would be to bring all Embu together and speak in one voice.

“I am up to the task, to bring all Embu leaders together, to fight for a stringer devolution unit and push for more resources to the county,” Mundigi said.

Moses Wamuru vying on an ODM ticket said wants to lobby for projects and development partners for the devolved units. 

Josephat Mugendi vying on Usawa kwa Wote ticket said Embu county lacked someone to oversight the excess of the executive .”I will also fight for Embu County to benefit from its own resources.”

Stephen Nyaga a teacher, is vying on Amani National Congress (ANC) ticket and is banking on a stellar record in the teachers’ unions.

Njeru Wajanuary vying on a Kanu ticket said his vision was to fill the gap in Embu County in lobbying for funds and following up the expenditure to the county level.

John Njeru who vying on a NARC ticket said his vision is to push for more money to development projects. He also wants to lobby for subsidised rates of electric power to residents of Embu for hosting the Seven Forks dams.