Susan Kihika, Kawira Mwangaza among governors-elect to be sworn in next week

Politics
Kawira Mwangaza and Susan Kihika are among the governors-elect to be sworn-in next week.

Meru, Nakuru and Baringo are among counties that have set in motion plans to swear-in governors elected in last week's polls.

In Nakuru, Susan Kihika of UDA who was the area senator, trounced the incumbent Lee Kinyanjui of Jubilee by 440,707 votes against 225,623 to win the seat, as Benjamin Cheboi, the pioneer Baringo governor made a comeback on UDA ticket, after garnering 137,486.

Cheboi supplanted the incumbent governor Stanley Kiptis who got 17,646 votes. It was sweet revenge for Cheboi who recovered the seat Kiptis snatched from him in 2017. Former Eldama-Ravine MP Moses Lessonet finished the race second with 60,879 votes.

Ms Kihika is expected to be sworn in as the third governor next week with the Assumption of Office of the Governor committee holding its fourth meeting in Nakuru city on Thursday. The meeting was attended by representatives from the current administration and those of the governor-elect.

Nakuru County Secretary Benjamin Njoroge, who is chairing the committee,  told The Standard that preparations for the event are in top gear.

“The swearing-in ceremony will be held on August 25 at the Nakuru ASK Showground. It will be a public ceremony that will take place between 10 am and 2 pm,” said Njoroge.

The composition of the ad hoc committee, established under the Assumption of Office of Governor Act of 2019, includes the county secretary, county attorney, county commissioner, and county ministers for devolution, public service, finance, and communication.

Others include representatives from the National Intelligence Service, National Police Service, the Judiciary, clerk of the county assembly, and two representatives of the governor-elect.

“All arrangements are in place. We shall continue to meet until the day when the new governor will take the oath of office to ensure we don’t miss out on any detail for a successful event,” said Njoroge.

Kinyanjui took over from former Administration Police boss Kinuthia Mbugua, who was later appointed to Executive Office of the President as State House comptroller.

Kinyanjui trounced Mbugua in hotly contested Jubilee nominations ahead of the 2017 elections before the latter unsuccessfully attempted to defend the seat as an independent candidate. Kinyanjui was declared the winner with 223,583 votes against Mbugua's 139,784.

“We want the transition to be seamless. We believe it will be successful with good attendance,” said Njoroge.

However, the event will depend on what actions Mr Kinyanjui, who has already disputed the outcome of the August 9 elections, will take. Ms Kihika's party may be delayed if he decides to go to court. The outgoing governor has until Monday to file a petition.

In Baringo, the swearing-in of Mr Cheboi has been planned for August 25.

The team planning the ceremony is headed by the acting County Secretary Elijah Kipkoros. The team has the county security team, led by County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa, Chief Magistrate Judith Wanjala, and High Court Judge Hillary Chemitei.

Jaldesa said the ceremony will be held at Agricultural Show Grows in Kabarnet between 10am and 2pm.

"Everything is fine so far. We have taken all security measures and invitations have already been sent out," said the administrator.

In Meru County, Kawira Mwangaza is expected to take over as the new governor in a ceremony also slated for August 25 at the Kinoru stadium in Meru town.

Ms Mwangaza, the outgoing Meru Woman Representative who ran as an independent candidate, has made history as the first elected woman governor for the county.

She trounced incumbent governor Kiraitu Murungi and Senator Mithika Linturi to clinch the seat. She garnered 209,148 votes with Linturi coming in second with 183,859 votes. Kiraitu, who vied on his Devolution Empowerment Party ticket, came in a distant third with 110,814 votes.

On Wednesday, the Assumption Office of the Governor Committee made up of top officials of the current administration as well as security and judiciary officers, was putting the final touches to the plans.

The 14-member committee, chaired by the outgoing County Secretary and Head of Public Service Rufus Miriti met at the county headquarters for hours even as members seek to ensure a smooth handover.

Among other members at the meeting were County Commissioner Fredrick Ndunga, county police commander Nyaga Muchunku, Meru Law Courts Administrator Kariuki Njuki, County Assembly Clerk Jacob Kirari, and Governor-elect’s representatives, James Mutia and Beatrice Karwitha.

Other members of the committee include out-going County Finance Chief Officer Joseph Chabari, Head of Legal Affairs Kiautha Arithi, Public Service Chief Officer Haroun Kanathi, Chief of Staff Jotham Kirimi, and Culture Chief Officer Cyprian Kalaine.

Miriti said they expect around 6,000 residents to attend the ceremony.

He, however, could not confirm whether Kiraitu will attend the handover ceremony.

Mwangaza's oath of office will be administered by Justice Lucy Njuguna and Chief Magistrate Dominica Nyambu before a luncheon hosted in her honour at the county commissioner’s residence.