Governor Nanok to face Senator Munyes in fierce gubernatorial battle

Governor Josphat Nanok PHOTO:COURTESY

The bitter rivalry between Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and Senator John Munyes will play out when the two go head to head in the coming elections.

The two will be vying for the county top seat on ODM and Jubilee parties respectively. And they will be proxies in a show of might for the national party leaders.

The struggle for the top county seat is already shaping up as a two-horse race after Nanok was given a direct ticket to vie under ODM and Munyes is expected to be given a direct ticket in Jubilee as no other aspirant from the party has shown an interest in contesting the seat.

The discovery of oil, according to experts, will likely shape the politics and voting pattern in the August 2017 elections.

Recent sentiments by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and local leaders over the sharing of revenue from oil point to the critical role the black gold will play in shaping the county's politics.

The Jubilee coalition and CORD counterparts are both working to be seen as defenders of the community by advocating a higher allocation of the oil proceeds.

The oil politics led to an angry exchange between the President and the governor during Uhuru’s tour of the county last month. The President, who was speaking in Lodwar town, said he had no interest in the oil, adding that the Opposition should stop spreading fabricated information.

Odinga had a few weeks earlier accused the Jubilee administration of showing an interest in Turkana region because of the discovery of oil.

“The Jubilee administration is currently moving around the county because they have a lot of interest in the oil benefits. They are moving around claiming that they are launching projects worth billions yet they do not have a budget for such projects,” he said in Kakuma.

The sharing of profits derived from petroleum allocated to the county government and the local community under the controversial Petroleum Bill 2015 has sparked heated debate, with those in Jubilee torn between supporting the President’s proposal and the community’s needs.

The President, however, declined to sign the Petroleum Bill and proposed 20 per cent to the county and five per cent to the community.

Governor Nanok has not let the issue settle and has urged the President to sign the Petroleum Bill in its current form, adding that his government would explore all legal means, including going to court to challenge any amendments.

“The amendments to the Bill of reducing the local community’s share from 10 per cent to 5 per cent is an abuse to the local communities. It is insincere and dishonest for the national government to purport that the absorption rate of the county governments, if given the 20 per cent and 10 per cent share to the community, will cause unequal distribution of resources and that this alleged higher allocation might be beyond their absorption capacities,” said the county boss.

ODM leader Raila Odinga has said that if voted in in August elections, his government would ensure that the county receives a large amount of money from the oil proceeds.

“The community should get its share of the revenue as stipulated in the Bill. As NASA, we will ensure that is done accordingly. But we should be careful that the oil issue does not become a curse by enriching only a few and leaving the rest in poverty. We should work at ensuring it becomes a blessing,” said Raila.

DP Ruto, while speaking in Kalemg’orok in Turkana South, urged the residents to accept the proposed Bill saying the oil is supposed to benefit Turkana people and every citizen of the country.

“Turkana has for the past years been receiving revenue from other citizens in other parts of the country. We are consulting with leaders to accept the proposed Bill. There is no reason to complain,” Ruto said.

In a bid to counter claims by Jubilee that the county government had achieved little, the governor said since coming to office, the county had received Sh33 billion and not Sh50 billion as alleged by Jubilee.

He said his administration had allocated the funds to numerous projects across the 30 wards.

“There are those with eyes and they choose not to see. There are also those with ears and they don’t want to listen. That is the problem with politics but we have done our best and residents in Turkana have felt that,” he said.

Nanok expects to ride on the record of the construction of 120 health centres, 120 Early Childhood Development Centres, and 3,435 kilometres of gravelled and nine kilometres of tarmac road.

Nanok says he has improved health, infrastructure, tourism, and security.

Munyes, on his part, has been a major critic of Nanok’s leadership, saying it was riddled with corruption. He has vowed to uplift residents from poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, and corruption. He says his government would ensure equality.

The county has slightly over 132,000 registered voters and the battle to take control of the votes started in earnest last year with the defection of local leaders to either Jubilee or ODM.