Candidates in Vihiga County’s governorship contest for the August 9 polls have narrowed down their manifestos to youth empowerment and job creation.
Governor Wilber Ottichilo, who is defending his seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket, is facing it off with former governor Moses Akaranga of the Progressive Party of Kenya (PPoK).
Other contestants in the race are Senator George Khaniri of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi of Amani National Congress (ANC) and former County Secretary Francis Ominde of the Federal Party of Kenya (FPK).
Governor Ottichilo, who is the latest to launch his manifesto, said he is optimistic that his good performance in the first term will propel him to a second term as he now shifts his focus to the youth agenda.
He said he intends to operationalise the Youth Service Act, thus creating several avenues in which the county government will empower the youth.
“The youth are essential in uplifting our county; that is why we insist more effort should be made to support them after winning our second term,” said Dr Ottichilo during his manifesto launch on Friday at Gisambai.
Dr Ottichilo promised to bring more investors to boost the county’s economy by making investments that can create employment for the young population.
“I call on locals to come on board and contribute to this noble road map so that we can champion development together,” said Dr Ottichilo.
The governor said his administration will focus on a 10-point development agenda including empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities.
He equally promised to focus on providing affordable healthcare, access to education, promoting infrastructure, food security, sports, culture and tourism, clean water provision and tackling climate change.
“I present my vision in this manifesto which comes into effect from August 2022. I feel more re-energised and eager to further transform our county into a prosperous entity, with particular focus on creating unity of purpose among our leaders, and directly involving the people on matters of socio-economic development,” said Dr Ottichilo.
Dr Ottichilo also pledged to focus on the social development of county residents during his second term if re-elected on August 9.
He said although his administration recorded notable progress in delivery of their 2017-2022 manifesto, they still encountered some challenges during implementation.
“Like the previous manifesto, this one will also focus on the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a special emphasis on climate change as a cross-cutting agenda and overall economic transformation of our county,” said Dr Ottichilo.
Like Dr Ottichilo, Mr Ominde in his manifesto has also placed a bet on convincing the young voters to vote for him. He said he plans to develop a policy that will engage the youths in all the county departments.
Mr Ominde went further to prove his commitment by picking a youthful deputy governor, 29-year-old Wycliffe Chabaya.
“Vihiga County is in an unemployment crisis with no clear employment opportunities for any category of its residents. To alleviate and reduce these challenges, our government will profile and document all its residents between the ages of 18 and 40 years,” states part of Mr Ominde’s manifesto.
The candidate also plans to give all the 10 county departments specific annual targets for creation of job opportunities.
“At least 70 per cent of all contracts with our new county government shall be given to local companies and firms.
“All firms dealing with our county government will be required to ensure at least 70 per cent of their staff are local residents,” said Mr Ominde.
Another plan outlined by Mr Ominde is the establishment of the Vihiga County Youth Service (VCYS) database which will help in tracking and engaging the youth on available job opportunities based on their qualifications.
The youth service database will go hand in hand with the development of an internship programme to ensure that all the youth graduating from colleges are provided with internship opportunities in the county.
This is based on the premise that the county has no industries capable of absorbing the entire workforce, hence most youth are forced to move out to other counties in search of jobs.
Just like Mr Ominde, Senator Khaniri picked a youthful politician, Jerald Samoyo, as his running mate, saying this will enable him nurture the youth for future leadership.
“Our major agenda will be around the youth and women. We anticipate to invest in them as we seek also to work closely with people living with disabilities,” said Mr Khaniri.
Former governor Moses Akaranga and incumbent Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi have also shifted focus to engaging youth directly, hoping to win their votes.
Vihiga has a total of 310,043 voters spread out in five constituencies.