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All eyes on Nakuru where women wrestled men for top county seats

 Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The General Election saw the highest number of women elected to various seats in Nakuru County, sending home political heavyweights.

All the top county seats are occupied by women, who were elected on a United Democratic Alliance ticket. Former Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika is the new sheriff in the city having floored Lee Kinyanjui.

Kinyanjui of the Jubilee Party lost his re-election bid, getting 225,623 votes against Kihika's 440,707 votes. He claimed that the polls were marred by irregularities. Ms Kihika assumed office officially on Thursday as the third governor after he was sworn in during a colorful ceremony. She is the first woman governor in Nakuru County.

Liza Chelule, managed to defend her Woman Representative seat on a UDA ticket, while Tabitha Keroche takes over as the next senator. Njoro MP Charity Kathambi also retained her seat, and MPs Jayne Kihara (Naivasha) and Martha Wangari (Gilgil) also defended their seat. Irene Njoki (Bahati) becomes the new kid on the block.


Also on the list of elected women are eight women ward representatives. They are Grace Mwathi (Bahati), Rose Chepkoech (Kiptangawanyi), Isabella Makori (Subukia), Rose Njoroge (Gilgil), Leah Ng'ang'a (Kabatini), Virginia Wamaitha (Hells Gate), and Hellen Megek (Visoi). Led by governor Susan, the 15 have pledged to work together to deliver development, services and peace.

Susan in her agenda promised to ensure locals have access to clean water. She said she will engage the national government to ensure the stalled Itare dam is completed. She added that she will enter into negotiations with Baringo County for the supply of water from the Chemususu dam.

"We shall also construct the Malewa dam to supply water to residents of Naivasha and Gilgil sub-counties," she said.

Itare dam construction started in 2016, but stalled in 2018. The dam was to supply water to at least 800,000 people in Kuresoi, Njoro, Nakuru Town. Susan promised to engage with the President-elect William Ruto and seek the immediate lifting of the moratorium on logging imposed by the national government four years ago that has devastated the economies of Njoro and Molo sub-counties.

She said she will support the agriculture sector by ensuring farmers have access to farm inputs and subsidized services (including Artificial Insemination) for co-operatives and individual farmers. By Cooperative fund she said will be allocated Sh1 billion annually.

 Governor Susan Kihika engages with president-elect William Ruto during a past event. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

"The county will continue to work closely with Egerton University to operationalise the Egerton Agro-processing industrial park which will include modern silos, cold stores facilities and agricultural parts," she said.

She added that her government will continue to focus on the health sector. She promised that healthcare workers due for promotions and re-designation will be promoted and re-designated, and those serving on the contract will be confirmed as permanent and pensionable.

Additional health workers, she said will be recruited to progressively achieve staffing norms and standards and reduce the service delivery lead time.

The county she said will work with the national government to ensure universal health access through the Nakuru Medicare card and universal access to NHIF cover with the aim of eliminating out-of-pocket expenditure for all citizens in Nakuru. As a short-term measure, all over 65 years, persons living with disability and orphans will be registered to ensure free access to health services in public health facilities among other promises.

New senator

Tabitha Karanja on her part said she will ensure the people of Nakuru promises to ensure the people of Nakuru get their rightful share of the national cake. She promised to hold to account the county government to ensure the resources are used properly and for Nakuru County projects that benefit the local mwananchi.

 Nakuru Senator Tabitha Karanja. [Harun Wathari Standard]

"l will work closely with county government leadership and national government to ensure Nakuru, which contributes 40 per cent of GDP in agriculture sets up value addition industries across the county which will create wealth and employment for our youths," she said.

Chelule on her part said that being the eldest among the three top leaders she will provide guidance to them whenever called upon. Njoki said she has lined up a number of development pillars which to help in uplifting the living standards of Bahati residents. Her focus is on education, youth empowerment, access to water, and promoting sports and talent, among others. Kathambi said her focus is to continue with the development agenda she started in her first term.

Center for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance through its organizing secretary Masese Kemunche said there is nothing like 'County of women'. Masese said they are excited following the rise in the number of women.

"Already we are being called the 'county of women' which is not bad, it is unique. They have the powers and they are leaders, we are not looking at them from the gender lens. We expect more," said Masese.

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