Former public servants join battle for governorship in North Rift

Henry Kosgey

ELDORET: North Rift governors are bracing for bruising political battle with big names eyeing their jobs.

Former ODM chairman and longtime Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei, former High Commissioner to Australia Stephen Tarus are among prominent names in Nandi County expected to give Governor Cleophas Lagat a run for his money.

Mr Kosgey was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as chairman of the Tourism Fund barely a month after he announced his interest for the Nandi governorship during a church function at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Lelwak, Nandi Hills constituency.

Kosgey who contested for the senate on an ODM ticket this time round says he will run on Jubilee party. “If you elect me, I will accord equal representation to all the one million residents of Nandi County. I will be a governor for all, not a few people,” he said.

Former CS Koskei is already crisscrossing the six constituencies to popularise his bid for the governorship come 2017 and has promised servant leadership if elected.

Also in the race is former ambassador Stephen Tarus who lost in URP nominations for the seat in 2013. Tarus said there is need for a consensus to ensure that the county will have a stake in leadership. “For the interest of the community, there is need for forums that will address diverse concerns and ensure there is appropriate representation at all levels,” said Tarus.

In Uasin Gishu County, the incumbent Jackson Mandago is also expected to face off with a dozen candidates. Those who have expressed interest in the gubernatorial race are former Higher Education minister Margaret Kamar, Kenyan Ambassador to Pakistan Julius Bitok and business lady Rael Rugut among others.

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, former Kenya Airways employee Bernard Chepkulei and Moses Changwany among others are expected to battle it out with Governor Alex Tolgos.

The discovery of oil in the Kerio Valley Basin has raised the stakes for the governorship.

In Turkana, a battle of the titans is shaping up for the seat between Governor Josephat Nanok and Senator John Munyes.

And supporters of West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo are urging him to go for governor’s seat and dethrone the incumbent Simon Kachapin.

Analysts and opinion leaders in North Rift region however have urged aspirants to give governors time to complete their development agenda.

“Let those in office complete their development agenda. In due course, they will be evaluated and the electorate will make their choices,” said ACK Bishop, Eldoret diocese Christopher Ruto.

The North Rift Law Society of Kenya chairman Zephania Yego said the prestige of being a county CEO and control of resources is motivating some candidates to focus on the governor’s seat.

“In 2013, many politicians vied for the Senatorship. They believed the Senate was the best place to be but have now realised that power resides in the county  executive. Governorship is the epicentre of power at the counties,” said Yego.

Simon Kitur, a lawyer concurs that trappings of power have motivated some political figures to run for the post of governor.

Former ACK Bishop Thomas Kogo said prior to the last elections, political players had not realised the power that comes with the governor’s post.

-Additional report by Silah Koskei