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Top civil servants start campaigns ahead of February resignations

By Steve Mkawale and Stephen Rutto | Jan 5th 2022 | 7 min read


A vehicle in Kericho Town branded with initials 'CK' believed to be advance preparation for Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter's bid for the Kericho Governorship seat. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Senior civil servants from the Rift Valley who have expressed interest in elective seats have hit the ground running, weeks before quitting their plum positions in government by February 9.

With less than eight months to the August 9 General Election, at least three Cabinet secretaries, four chief administrative secretaries, two principal secretaries and a diplomat have started campaigning and unveiling their manifestos.

They are interested in becoming governors, senators or members of the national Assembly.

Devolution CS Charles Keter, Water and Sanitation’s Sicily Kariuki and Labour’s Simon Chelugui have shown interest for the Kericho, Nyandarua and Baringo governorship respectively.

Mr Keter has been quietly campaigning to succeed Governor Paul Chepkwony, who is serving his final term.

Recently Keter erected a billboard in Kericho town to wish the residents a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Although he is yet to officially announce his candidature, a vehicle with initials ‘CK’ and wordings “transformer” has been spotted in several parts Kericho County.

It is believed that the branding of the vehicle and the erecting of the billboard are early preparation for the launch of his campaign.

Keter has been cagey about his candidature for the Kericho governor’s seat only saying he will make the announcement at the right time.

“I’m currently discharging my duties as a CS. When the time is right I will make that announcement,” he told The Standard without giving a specific time.

Elsewhere in Nyandarua, Ms Kariuki is keen on unseating Governor Francis Kimemia. In Baringo, Mr Chelugui wants to dislodge Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis.

Although Kariuki is yet to make public her intentions to contest the Nyandarua governorship, she has privately intimated to friends and associates that her name will be on the ballot.

The CS, who has been actively involved in various development activities in the county – related to her ministry - chose not to comment on the matter.

“Currently I’m serving President Uhuru Kenyatta in my capacity as a CS. For now, that is what I am doing, but who knows about tomorrow,” she told The Standard in a recent interview.

Mr Chelugui has been consulting his supporters. He recently held a meeting with a delegation that he led to Deputy President William Ruto’s Sugoi home.

Waziri (CS) is weighing his options, as he consults about the next elections. We have met and discussed, but he is still studying the political dynamics at the county and national level,” said one of his close allies who did not wish to be named.

Labour Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) Patrick Ntutu is eyeing the Narok governorship, while Petroleum’s  John Mosonik has declared interest in the Bomet governor’s seat.

Mr Ntutu has said he will be seeking to succeed Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, who is completing his second term. “I will be in the race for the Narok governorship, and will support Dr Ruto’s presidential bid,” he told The Standard in an interview.

Mr Mosonik launched his bid for the Bomet governor’s seat on January 1, when he hosted a party at his rural home in Sotik Constituency.

“I am a political greenhorn, but the wealth of experience I am coming on board with is unrivalled and my competitors should tell us their capacity rather than branding themselves political heavyweights,” he told his supporters.

Lawrence Karanja, the Industrialisation CAS, is keen on succeeding Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika after she declared her interest in the governorship.

Mr Karanja has been holding consultative meetings and he recently had an interview with KTN News where he declared his candidature for the senate seat. “It is my ambitions that made me a lawyer, but I grew up with residents of Nakuru. I shouldn’t be viewed as a person of class. I will represent them well in the Senate,” said Karanja.

Treasury CAS Nelson Gaichuhie is yet to announce whether he will go for the  Nakuru Senatorial seat or seek to reclaim the Subukia parliamentary seat that he lost in 2017 to Samuel Gachobe.

Youth Affairs PS Charles Sunkuli and Housing’s Charles Hinga are the other senior civil servants still weighing options to join the campaigns for seats in the next General Election.

Mr Sunkuli has been campaigning for the Narok governorship while Mr Hinga is said to be eyeing a parliamentary seat in Nakuru County.

In Uasin Gishu, Kenya’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Julius Bitok unveiled an ambitious plan for the cosmopolitan county on Saturday as he met his strategists and a section of supporters at his Kesses home.

Mr Bitok told supporters he would enrol all residents that are not registered with the National Health Insurance Fund in a programme where families from the maize-producing county are asked to give two bags of maize per year for their health cover.

Bitok said if elected governor, he would also provide all pre-primary school children in the county with free milk.

“We already have a plan dubbed ‘Two bags of maize for NHIF’. My administration will be the highest buyer of milk from farmers in the free milk programme, and this will spur growth of the dairy sector,” Bitok, who is seeking the UDA party ticket said.

He said he would expand infrastructure and sewerage systems to elevate Eldoret town to city status in his first term as governor.

“We will increase the road networks within Eldoret from 250km to 500km. We will work closely with the national government for the expansion of roads and better housing. After we have done that, Eldoret will upgraded to a city,” the diplomat said.

He says his seven-year experience as an Ambassador enhanced his international networks, explaining that he will use his diplomatic expertise to secure foreign markets for Uasin Gishu’s crops.

Bitok joins Jonathan Bii, Nairobi County Executive Committee Member Vescah Kangogo and Soy MP Caleb Kositany in the race to succeed Governor Jackson Mandago. All are seeking the UDA ticket.

Businessman Zedekiah Bundotich, commonly known as Buzeki, is also in the race, but is yet to disclose his party of choice.

Ms Kangogo has also started campaigning. Last week, she addressed a group of youth in Kapseret and said she was the best candidate for the job, and that she would create job opportunities for them. 

In the neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County, the outgoing Eldoret National Polytechnic Principal Josphat Sawe has also launched his gubernatorial bid.

Mr Sawe, who has been at the helm of Eldoret National Polytechnic for more than eight years, unveiled an 11-point manifesto in Lelan, Marakwet West sub-County last Friday.

He joins a race that already has political big shots such as Deputy Governor Wisely Rotich, a youth and close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, former Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui and former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, among others.

Two women aspirants; Loice Jemencho and Elizabeth Keitany, have also expressed interest in succeeding Governor Alex Tolgos, who is ODM leader Raila Odinga’s chief campaigner in the North Rift.

Ms Jemencho is a Kabianga University lecturer and has started campaigns, attending social functions across the county while selling her agenda. She says she will improve Elgeyo Marakwet’s economy through value addition of fruits. 

Mr Sawe said he would contest the seat on a UDA party ticket. Mr Rotich, Mr Kiptanui, Dr Jemencho and Dr Keitany are also among contestants eying the UDA ticket.

“I am contesting the seat of governor through UDA because I believe in its bottom-up economic model and empowerment initiatives. We have inaugurated and unveiled our manifesto,” Sawe, who was a high school teacher and principal before he was elevated to TTI boss, said. He has been an educationist for about 30 years.

He said his manifesto had encapsulated his plans on education, infrastructure, security, tourism and mining among other issues.

Sawe said he would ensure there was equity in service delivery and employment under his administration.

“Elgeyo Marakwet is a rich county, endowed with resources. For instance, we have a plan of doing value addition for the mangoes produced along the Kerio Valley. We will also exploit tourism and mining, which will result in creation of jobs,” he said.

He promised to lobby for resources from foreign investors and additional funding from the national government to achieve legacy projects.

“We will attract investors and donations from other countries so that we exploit the resources in the county. This is what I have done in the positions I have previously served,” Sawe said.

He vowed to unite the county after the two dominant communities (Keiyo and Marakwet) differed politically in the 2017 polls.

Sawe said he would fix the disunity problem through equity in service delivery and development.

“My administration has identified insecurity black spots such as Tot, Kapkobil, Sambalat and Chesongoch in the Kerio Valley. We will ensure that there are more police stations in those areas,” Sawe said.

Rotich, an economist, has been doing meet-the-people tours across the county and observers describe him as accessible. Together with Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, Rotich is part of Ruto’s technical team in the Rift Valley.

Mr Boinnet has left voters guessing on the party he will be using in his bid to become governor. The Tourism and Wildlife CAS used the December holidays to meet locals and his strategists.

In his first political address on December 27, Boinnet told locals in Keiyo South that he would tap into Elgeyo Marakwet’s tourism potential, such as scenic escarpments and valleys, to create jobs.

“It is now our responsibility to use the tourism resources to generate more revenue,” Boinnet said.

The former no-nonsense IG of police concluded his speech thus: “EMC (Elgeyo Marakwet County) power! Utalii (tourism) in EMC power! EMC mbele (priority)!”

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya has also been advancing his campaigns in the race to succeed Governor Patrick Khaemba of Trans Nzoia. 

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