Voters show more faith in women by electing them to top positions

Suba South MP-elect Millie Odhiambo speaks during a past interview at Parliament Buildings. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nakuru County is on the verge of making political history in the August election.

By the time of going to press Thursday, August 11, Senator Susan Kihika looked poised to occupy the governor’s seat, with 183,062 votes accumulated in Molo, Gilgil, Subukia, Kuresoi North and South constituencies. Incumbent governor Lee Kinyanjui had 56,828 votes in the same areas.

Tabitha Karanja, CEO of Keroche, who has fought battles with government agencies over taxes, was also on her way to becoming Nakuru Senator on her first attempt in politics. She had 158,007 votes, while her nearest rival, former Infrastructure Cabinet Administrative Secretary Lawrence Karanja, had 66,200 votes from the five constituencies. The county has a total of 11 constituencies.

Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, Jane Kihara from Naivasha, and Charity Kathambi from Njoro became the first female legislators to defend their seats for the second time. In the Bahati race, Irene Njoki, a political newcomer, defeated vocal politician and ally of Deputy President William Ruto, Kimani Ngunjiri. 

Njoki, who contested on a Jubilee Party ticket, got 34,308 votes against Ngunjiri’s 26,809 votes. Wangari, through the UDA ticket, retained her seat after garnering 35,363 votes followed by former MP Mathenge Nderitu (Jubilee) with 19,764, Stephen Gatimu (IND) 5,357 and independent candidate William Wachara with 428.

Major milestone

Wangari described her victory as a major milestone for area residents and women who voted to give her a second term.

Kihara won with 44,882 votes (UDA), followed by former MP John Kihagi 24,891 (independent), Ndegwa Nguthiru 18,221 (Jubilee) and Antony Rebo’s 8,295 (ODM).

Voters in Lamu East constituency also made history by electing Jubilee Party candidate Ruweida Mohamed as the area’s first female MP.

 Jubilee Party candidate Ruweida Mohamed. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

In a race with four candidates, Mohamed received 5,498 votes. In Githunguri constituency, outgoing Kiambu woman representative Gathoni wa Muchomba (UDA)  garnered 34,646 votes against Jubilee’s Gabriel Kago who was second with 31,127 votes. Wamuchomba also becomes the first woman MP for Githunguri.

“I’ve broken the curse, and Githunguri will be led by a woman for the first time. Due to the difficulties I encountered during the campaigns, this was no small feat,” Wamuchomba said after being declared the winner.  

A total of 71,357 votes were cast by the 104,592 registered voters.

Following her victory in the Aldai constituency, Maryanne Keitany (UDA) joined the list of women elected to Parliament. Phyllis Bartoo (UDA) is the new Moiben constituency MP-elect.

Rosa Buyu (ODM) of Kisumu West became the latest entrant to join the party in Nyanza, increasing women’s representation in elective seats in the region after defeating veteran politician Olago Aluoch. Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul), and Lilian Gogo (Rangwe) fought off a slew of male challengers to reclaim their seats in Homa Bay County.

Lilian Gogo. [David Gichuru, Standard]

More women

According to the results, the county is the only one in the region that has elected more women. Only Kisumu joined Homa Bay in giving women a chance by supporting Buyu in all other Nyanza counties.

Former Karachuonyo MP Phoebe Muga Asiyo is known for having produced one of the toughest female political players in the county. Kisumu is also known for producing the country’s first female MP, Grace Onyango.

In the past, Asiyo easily defeated male opponents, including the former powerful Kanu National Chairman, David Okiki Amayo, who held the seat for two terms and was regarded as an unshakeable political titan. And it is the example set by the trailblazers that the four female MPs who defied male domination to win seats appear to be following after the IEBC declared them winners of the Tuesday elections.

Millie Odhiambo of ODM won a third term in Suba South with 27,130 votes to Federal Party’s James Akali’s 18,151 votes.

Seasoned politicians

Millie, a seasoned political operative both inside and outside of parliament, is the only female MP in the region to have won three consecutive terms since her election as an elected leader in 2013 following a brief stint as a nominated MP. She was the only elected female MP in the region prior to the entry of her fellow women leaders.

Hundreds of Buyu supporters praised her for her outstanding performance. In 2013, she failed to unseat Olago despite enjoying the benefits of running on an ODM ticket in the region while Olago ran on a Ford Kenya ticket.

Rosa Buyu. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Buyu was declared the elected MP with 39,615 votes, followed by Olago with 19,045 votes. There were five other competitors in the race. “This is a bit emotional for me because I have put my foot forward for the last 15 years to try to get an opportunity to serve in the constituency,” she said.

Eve Obara, an educationist, easily defended her seat in Kabondo Kasipul, garnering 31,104 votes against her closest competitor, Godfrey Juma, who received 7,803 votes.

Gogo, who also made a successful political debut in 2017, faced stiff competition from former MP George Oner to keep her seat.

[Anthony Gitonga, Yvonne Chepkwony, James Munyeki, Nikko Tanui, Harold Odhiambo, Wainaina Ndung’u, and Boniface Gikandi]