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First-term MP to battle 6 in Njoro as she attempts to recapture seat

Rift Valley
 Njoro MP Charity Kathambi Chepkwony addressed the press in Nakuru on January 25, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Njoro MP Charity Kathambi is walking a tight rope as she faces six other candidates on the ballot, among them her predecessor Joseph Kiuna who once served both Njoro and Molo constituencies.

Kathambi made her first stab at the seat in 2013 through Deputy President William Ruto’s then United Republican Party (URP) but she lost to Joseph Kiuna under The National Alliance (TNA) party.

In 2017, Kathambi made her debut in Parliament sponsored by the ruling Jubilee Party, a move that sent Kiuna to political cold in the past five years.

The first-term MP, a diehard supporter of Ruto, is seeking a second term through the DP’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party as Kiuna seeks to make a comeback on a Jubilee ticket.

There has been a cut throat competition between Kiuna and Kathambi as each dangles to the voters their development record achieved during the period they were in office.

“From what I have done in the last five years and what others did before, the great people of Njoro can draw the line between progressive and retrogressive leadership,” said Kathambi.

She has described herself as future-oriented leader maintaining that she is confident of a second term after the August 9 general elections.

“Njoro Constituency deserves leaders who care about the next generation, not just the next elections. I have and will continue to deliver. There is no vacancy in Njoro,” said Kathambi.

The MP cited security, roads and schools as some of her greatest milestones during her first term.

“We have managed to transform our schools to modern structures, open up roads and tarmac new ones connecting the rural Njoro and Nakuru City. We have built police stations to enhance security,” said Kathambi.

Kiuna, however, says that Njoro would have made greater milestones under his leadership adding that some of the projects the current MP is taking credit for were initiated under his leadership.

“There are several projects that we had lined up but were forgotten after the last elections. I lobbied for some of the roads currently under construction just before the polls,” said Kiuna.

He added that there has been unequal distribution of projects in the constituency citing that some of the areas have continued to lag behind.

“Under my leadership I ensured all areas benefitted from national government projects equally. We need a balanced development as it is the right for all residents regardless of who they vote for,” said Kiuna.

The former legislator pointed out the need for youth empowerment programmes which he said he had initiated as an MP.

“Nearly every village in Njoro has a youth whom I linked to job opportunities in both private and public sectors. This is the kind of leadership Njoro needs,” he said.

The contest has however heated up with the entry of five young candidates determined to take over the leadership of the agricultural rich constituency.

They include John Kamau of Narc Kenya, Asab Cheruiyot of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), Patrick Kipande of ANC, while David Thiong’o and Joshua Kariuki are vying as independents.

Unbiased leadership

Kamau, an actuarial science graduate from Dedan Kimathi University says unbiased leadership, youth empowerment, quality education and industrialisation are pillars of his manifesto.

“These are the areas that need to be addressed urgently. They will make Njoro’s economy grow and subsequently bridge the other challenges facing the residents,” said Kamau.

The 25-year-old said that the diversity in ethnic composition of the constituency has not been recognised while distributing the available resources.

“My Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committee will be constituted by representatives of different communities. We need fairness in distributing bursary to our children,” said Kamau.

Kamau noted that a majority of the youth in Njoro are unemployed adding that this should be addressed through establishment of cottage industries.

“Under my leadership, I shall ensure Njoro attracts investors to set up shop here especially for value addition factories to absorb our jobless population,” he said.

On his part, Kariuki says that basic education, technical training, jua kali and agriculture will be his priority areas if elected.

The 31-year-old Political Science and Public Administration graduate from the University of Nairobi says that these will go a long way in changing the lives of most residents.

“I shall promote acquiring of skills for the youthful population in polytechnics. This shall create opportunities of self-employment in different sectors of the economy,” said Kariuki.

He said that some of the dry parts of Njoro can be changed into productive farmlands through irrigation.

“We have sections of Njoro that do not receive sufficient rainfall leaving the residents staring at food shortage. I shall initiate irrigation programmes to bridge this gap,” he said.

Twenty-four-year-old Cheruiyot, a budding lawyer, says the current and previous leadership had failed to honour their promises to the residents.

“The numerous issues that our people face must be addressed. Poor road network, low electricity connectivity, insufficient water and food insecurity top my priorities,” said Cheruiyot.

He explained that poor roads in the area greatly impede the transportation of goods and services, especially during rainy seasons affecting the local economy.

“Most of our people are farmers and without roads, their efforts in the farms do not pay off. Brokers use this as an excuse for poor prices. At times, farm produce go bad on the farms,” said Cheruiyot.

He added that high levels of poverty in sections of Njoro was due to unequitable resource distribution and lack of committed leadership to bail them out. “We need a leader who is intentional with uplifting the standards of living. Poor political and economic leadership has made many remain stuck in a state of poverty every election cycle,” he said.

Thiong’o, an independent candidate, and Kipande of ANC could not be reached on phone.

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