Once bosom friends Jackson Mandago, Oscar Sudi now rivals

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi celebrate their win at Wareng High School, Kapseret Constituency, 2017. [File]

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leaders are split down the middle over political ambitions, eight months to the next General Election.  

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in his Uasin Gishu turf traded barbs as the fight for county elective seats intensifies.  Governor Jackson Mandago and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi hit out at each while addressing separate events to the disbelief of residents, who expected them to be united.

The sharp political differences have put the two leaders and their supporters at crossroads, especially at the moment Dr Ruto is seeking to consolidate his support base across the country ahead of the 2022 presidential election.  Mr Mandago who is serving his last term as Uasin Gishu governor has declared interest for the Senate seat, a move that has irked Mr Sudi.

The MP told faithful at AIC Mararai in Soy on Sunday that Mandago would allegedly interfere with his successor, should he win the Senate seat that will allow him to oversight the county.

Interfere with successor

“You elected Mandago when he had nothing and was young in politics, but today he is mature, has resources and knows the games of politics and you want to drag him back to the local politics? He knows all the loopholes in the county government and will interfere with the leadership,” Sudi claimed.

“When you are an assistant chief, you look forward to being a chief then a District Officer and climb the ladder upwards,” he said in reference to the governor.

“We have budding politicians like Oliver Karori and Robert Kemei who should be left to battle out for the senatorial post. Mandago is completing his term and should go hunt for votes in various parts of the country in support of Ruto. We expect Mandago to be awarded a Cabinet slot like Agriculture,” he added.

MP told locals not to support Mandago’s senatorial bid.

“We are tired of carrying him. Why should he be within the county? He should move across the country seeking votes and later go for a national post, and leave the county,” he said.

Yesterday, Sudi told The Standard that: “Mandago should not chest thump and look down upon other people. This elective seats are not reserved for anyone. He should also give space for others.”

“If Mandago has confidence that the DP Ruto will win, he should join the campaigns like his colleague Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok and leave county politics to upcoming leaders,” he added.

Governor Jackson Mandago (right) and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, 2017. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Sudi further said that Mandago having served as governor for 10 years, he should have waited for at least five years before running for senatorship.

“My concern is that when senators will summon governors over the audit report, it will be chaotic in an event where Mandago has been elected to the Senate because, how will he query performance of an administration that he headed?” He posed.

Sudi noted that the governor has knowledge of all contracts and contractors awarded and it will amount to conflict of interest.

At the same time, the MP dismissed claims that there were some board room meetings to discuss Mandago. Sudi said Uasin Gishu county is cosmopolitan and Mandago should respect all tribes.  

Not backing down

Speaking at a separate meeting earlier in the week in Kimumu, the governor said Sudi has no power to dictate who should vie for what position as everyone has a right to seek for votes from the public.

He said he has been a respectful leader and wondered why he was being provoked.

Mandago told Sudi to focus on his constituency and let the public have their say.

“There are people in Parliament who cannot table any motion. If I get elected as senator, do you think I will lag behind?” Posed Mandago.

He claimed that some people were holding ‘boardroom’ meetings behind his back to award politicians some positions rather than letting the public decide.

“Do not even try me. I will show you dust like I did in 2017 and excelled despite tough competition. I have heard that he has been at Segero insulting me but I will deal with him,” added Mandago.

While using metaphors in his local dialect, Mandago claimed that Sudi was like a servant who has had his fill and wants to step on the very plate that fed him adding that such a servant should be let out.

Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter (left), Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi(C), and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago at Jubilee Party headquarters, Nairobi, 2017. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The governor said that his track record speaks for itself, from the education sector, infrastructure-roads, footpaths, street lights and promised to offer more service to the people if elected senator.

Mandago said that he believed in allowing the public to make their own decisions without coercion.

“There are people who have brought us trouble in DP William Ruto’s camp by being all over the place. But with me, they will be disciplined. Politicians should respect each other and stick to their lane. I believe in the people and letting them have their say. Have you heard me endorsing anyone for governor?” Posed Mandago.

He said that some people have been misinforming the public, arguing that senators must be lawyers in order to execute their duties efficiently.

“Some people want leaders they can manipulate and they know that I cannot be fooled or directed on what to do because I stand my ground,” said Mandago.

Cheptiret Kipchamo ward MCA Gilber Tenai said although it is a democratic right for one to vie for any post, it’s odd for governors to contest for Senate seats.

“What will happen if a present governor is elected to the Senate in next General Election and put to chair the audit committee? It will be tricky to for a former governor to summon governors for audit queries when they also served as governor,” said Tenai.

“A governor is a CEO of the county and we do not expect a governor to run for a lower seat after retirement. It is democratic right for Mandago to run for any seat but it is always expected for one to seek a higher post. A DP cannot contest for a governor and neither can a president seek for any other elective post within the country,” he added.