The 2022 General Election may be about 20 months away, but campaigns are already hotting up in Nakuru County.
A silent wave of early campaigns is slowly sweeping through the county, with a large number of leaders positioning themselves for various elective seats.
The campaigns are likely to intensify in March when two wards – Hell’s Gate and London – go to a mini poll to replace ward representatives who died in November last year.
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Already a number of elected leaders have started feeling the political heat generated by their would be opponents in the 2022 contest that pundits say will be more competitive because of the presidential succession race.
Aspiring candidates are holding consultative meetings with small groups of trusted friends and families to work out campaign strategies.
“Virtually all elective political positions, from the governorship to wards, have attracted candidates in droves. They are busy hosting goat-eating meets and attending social events to try and gain the confidence of voters,” says Naituli Gitile, a professor of management and leadership at Multimedia University.
Already, several politicians, including Senator Susan Kihika, have declared their interest to unseat Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
“I’m a politician and I need to consult the people who elected me to get a feedback and also know what else they want me to do for them either in my current position or any other. But definitely I’m going for the governorship,” Kihika told the Sunday Standard in a recent interview.
James Mungai, the first Nakuru senator, has also declared interest in the seat. Mungai has been doing his campaigns secretly, with those close to him saying he is weighing his options.
“He is still weighing his options. But he is thinking of going for the governorship. His meetings are structured and involves a very close circle of advisers and confidants,” said one of his advisers who did not wish to be named.
Dr Peter Koros of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), who came second in the 2017 poll has also hit the ground running, shopping for a running mate.
Koros says his first agenda is to get the right people to spearhead his campaigns.
“I performed well in 2017 in spite of not having a well oiled campaign like my competition. I learned some lessons in the past elections and that’s why I have started early by trying to get the right people in my team,” he said, adding that all he is doing at the moment is preparations and not campaigns.
However, Kinyanjui is determined to complete his second and final term.
He says his re-election will depend heavily on his development record, which he terms as impressive and above what his predecessor achieved.
The governor is already aligning himself with the Handshake team that is pushing for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020.
He so far has on his side Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama, Molo’s Kimani Kuria, Martha Wangare of Gilgil and David Gikaria of Nakuru Town East.
“Currently I’m working to fulfill my pledges to voters. I have managed to deliver in the health sector, agriculture, infrastructure development that has opened up thousands of kilometres of roads in the rural parts of the county,” he says, adding that his development record speaks for itself.
And Kihika’s decision to run for governor has thrown the race for the Senate seat wide open, with a number of aspiring candidates engaging allies in various consultative meetings aimed at strategising on how to roll out campaigns.
Former Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital Medical Superintendent Joseph Mburu, retired footballer Micky Weche and Andrew Yatich, who vied in 2013 and 2017, are some of those who are keen to succeed Kihika.
With the Covid-19 restrictions still in force, the aspirants have avoided normal public meetings and resorted to forming social media accounts, including WhatsApp groups, where they engage the voters.
Dr Mburu has held several closed-door meetings with close associates in Naivasha.
“I have been consulting widely and realised there is a leadership gap that needs to be filled. I’m equal to the task,” he says.
Weche has been active on social media, engaging the youth and women, and making appearances in social events where he has been donating sanitary pads for needy girls.
“I’ve started early because I need to market myself sufficiently and the county is big. I have to lay out a strategy on how I will tackle the campaigns and who to involve, where and when,” he says.
Yatich has been engaging elders in estates and villages to try and revamp his political network. “My intention is to revive my old political network and build new ones for the purpose of 2022. I’m talking to people as I try to establish how to handle the next General Election,” he says.
Tens of other aspirants have lined up in various constituencies where they are seeking to oust the incumbents.