Governors now want sitting senators barred from vying for the governor’s seat.
The Council of Governors (CoG) is accusing the legislators of misusing the House privileges to gain political mileage.
Already, some of the lawmakers have started early campaigns, with others now using their oversight role in the Senate as a springboard for their 2022 ambitions.
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With 22 governors retiring, the race to succeed them is promising a vicious political battle for the lucrative county job.
The protracted counties’ revenue sharing formula impasse was one of the platforms by the senators to leverage their chances, while the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) has turned into a theatre of political exchanges between senators and their respective governors.
It has since emerged that a majority of the senators under the banner Team Kenya — who pushed for a win-win revenue formula — are angling for the seat.
Some of the senators seeking to become governors include Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Fred Outa (Kisumu), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), James Orengo (Siaya), Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Ledama ole Kina (Narok).
Others are Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Samson Cherargei (Nandi) and Enoch Wambua (Kitui).
Yesterday, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya accused senators nursing political ambitions of hijacking their oversight role and turning it into a platform of witch-hunt to malign the county bosses.
Oparanya suggested a law to bar senators from running for the governor’s post for a certain period after serving as senator so as to prevent “conflict of interest” in their county oversight role.
“A number of senators are nurturing aspirations to be governors, hence the deliberate efforts to portray governors as corrupt,” Oparanya said.
“Their ambitions to become governors have overshadowed their oversight role. Some have resorted to personal attacks instead of doing their work collectively as a Senate.”
But Mutula and Sakaja said they have a right to contest for any political seat, adding that as long as they are still serving as senators, they will continue questioning how their counties are spending taxpayers’ money.
“As a principle, senators have every right to vie for the position. It is not a contradiction or a fallacy in law. Governors generally want senators who turn a blind eye to their misdeeds or prefer senators who form an alliance of evil with them,” Mutula said.
He said his ambition to succeed Prof Kivutha Kibwana was people-driven and cannot be stopped through political blackmail.
Sakaja said he was yet to declare interest, but stated he had a right to run for any political seat. “Everybody is free to run for any seat.”
“Whether there are political interests or not by the senators, there are audit queries that have to be responded to. It is only those who are guilty that are trying to blackmail senators,” Sakaja added.
Kihika, in a previous interview, said she had set her eyes on Nakuru County’s top job.
“I am definitely going for it. In 2022, I want to join the league of women governors in Kenya. My people have been telling me to do so and I am listening to them,” she said.
“We need more women governors and I think I am as good as the next one and able to compete favourably with the men of Nakuru County.”
Kihika, who is in Deputy President William Ruto’s camp, is set to face off with the incumbent Lee Kinyanjui, who is backing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
It has become common for senators to engage in public spats with their respective governors. Sakaja has been at loggerheads with Governor Mike Sonko over the running of the capital city.
Their bitter exchanges have, however, gone down after the embattled governor was stripped of his functions, which have been handed to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) under Major-General Mohamed Badi.
In Kisumu, Outa has continued to attack Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o over claims of corruption.
The senator was part of Nyongó’s 2017 campaign team but the two have since fallen out, with the lawmaker keen on wrestling the seat from him in the 2022 polls.
Mutula has also been engaging in bitter exchanges with Kibwana and recently threatened to initiate an impeachment motion against the county boss over the revenue sharing row.
Malala has also started early campaigns in his bid to take over from Oparanya. The lawmaker has in the recent past been in the limelight, following an arrest during the revenue formula standoff.
Governors Oparanya (Kakamega), Kibwana (Makueni), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Sospeter Ojamong’ (Busia), Okoth Obado (Migori), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), James Ongwae (Kisii), John Nyagarama (Nyamira), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Salim Mvurya (Kwale) are set to retire in 2022 after serving their last terms.
Others are Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Martin Wambora (Embu), Ali Roba (Mandera), Josphat Nanok (Turkana), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Samuel Tunai (Narok), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu).
Prof Kindiki will be seeking to unseat Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka-Nithi) having valiantly fought for increased allocation and thwarted losses the county could have suffered.
Kindiki delivered some powerful lines and jaw-dropping speeches on the floor of the House following his removal as deputy speaker.
Madzayo has in the past shown interest in the Kilifi governor’s seat, seeking to replace Governor Kingi, who will be exiting in 2022.
Kina has also been vocal in his fight for the rights of the pastoralist community, as Governor Tunai’s exit beckons.