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Where is Susan Kihika? Nakuru governor missing in action

Politics
 Governor Susan Kihika speaks during the disbursement of relief food to Nakuru's drought-stricken regions in October 2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Governor Susan Kihika's conspicuous absence in public events attended by national government figures in the county has raised eyebrows among residents.

Governor Kihika has not been seen in public for a month, with her absence generating debate on various forums, including social media, where residents say they have not seen her since April 20, and that she cannot be reached on phone.

However, not a member of his family or any county official has been ready to come out publicly with details of her whereabouts.

Andrew Kiptoo, a resident, faulted the county administration over its silence on the well-being of the county chief.

"Locals are wondering who is now in charge of the county in an acting capacity," said Kiptoo.

Before she went away from the public limelight, the governor, on April 20, during the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations, joined the Muslim community in breaking their fasting.

"We shall engage the national government to ensure vetting of your people before being issued with national IDs is stopped," said Kihika at Ziwani Grounds in Nakuru East.

Since then her deputy David Kones has been representing her in public events within the county.

 Nakuru Deputy Governor David Kones.He has been representing Governor Susan Kihika in public events within the county. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Among the notable events Kihika has missed includes the installation of Bishop Cleophas Oseso Tuka as the bishop of the Nakuru Catholic Diocese on May 6.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and a host of MPs attended the event that was held at Nakuru Boys High School. Former Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui was also present.

On May 19, Egerton University and Njoro MP Charity Kathambi hosted Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi for a tree planting exercise and launch of seven school buses to local public schools.

VIP guests

Two Principal Secretaries (PSs), Aurelia Rono (Parliamentary Affairs) and Belio Kipsang (Basic Education), also attended the event.

In the two events and several other county events, Kones has represented her, always starting his speech by acknowledging that his boss had sent him.

A Member of Parliament who did not wish to be named, said the absence of the governor has left residents with a sense of power vacuum.

"I spoke to her a few weeks ago, she was travelling abroad on an official matter. I have not spoken to her since," he said when asked if he knew the whereabouts of the governor.

Five days ago, Kihika failed to appear before the Senate County Public Investment and Special Funds Committee. The county wrote to the senate indicating that the governor was out of the country on official duties.

 Governor Susan Kihika (centre) donating food to Muslim women at Ziwani grounds in Nakuru during Eid ul Fitr celebrations. [Courtesy, Standard]

However, during the period, county officials have kept details about her conspicuous absence a close secret.

The acting County Secretary, Dr Samuel Mwaura, the Chief of Staff Peter Ketyenya and the deputy governor were among officials The Standard reached out to for official response but did not answer to phone calls or text messages.

But on Sunday, a senior member in the governor's office who requested anonymity, said the governor had travelled to the US with a team of officials from the Ministry of Co-operatives and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.

"The governor is well, if fact she has returned to the country today (Sunday) from the US where she was in a delegation that is spearheading Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) that the national government is focused on."

"In fact, Nakuru is one of the counties picked to spearhead Small Business Development centres under a partnership between Kenya, the US and Strathmore University," said the official privy to the governor's engagements.

The official added that Nakuru is among six counties that will pilot the SBDC, hence the need for the governor to travel abroad.

"There is no cause for as the governor's absence is for the good of the county," the officer said.

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