Trio battle for CoG chair in today's poll

Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui),  Martin Wambora (Embu) and  Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) will today battle it out for a chance to chair the Council of Governors (CoG).

County bosses are seeking to replace Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who has served his maximum two terms.

The governors will also be electing CoG vice chair, whip and 12 committee chairs after the term of the current team lapsed.

Mrs Ngilu will be the second woman to run for the post after Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru failed to secure it last time as she was prevailed upon by her male colleagues to step down in favour of Mr Oparanya.

Although no official list has been released by the CoG secretariat ahead of today’s polls, The Standard reliably established that a majority of second term governors who had earlier declared interest in the seat had opted out.

Politics of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and 2022 General Election is expected to play a key role in shaping today’s polls.

While first-term governors would use the post to brand themselves for re-election, those in second term have shifted focus to national politics.

Some of the county bosses who have opted to focus more on their county activities include Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Ali Roba (Mandera), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Waiguru, Mwangi Wa Iria (Muranga) and Salim Mvurya (Kwale).

“I will not be a candidate for CoG elections. As a 2022 presidential candidate, I have been advised by my team that serving in the next CoG executive can constitute a conflict of interest,” said Prof Kibwana.

Mr Mandago said he was not going for the CoG chair seat and instead would go for the sports committee chair in today’s election.

He said there were two candidates – Godana and Ngilu – who had shown interest on CoG chair but did not rule out an increase in the number of the contestants today.

"We will vote through consensus and arrive at the best candidate. We could even propose a governor and go ahead to vote for him or her in the meeting tomorrow (today). We will be looking for the best person to lead the CoG for the remainder of the term," said Mandago.

Oparanya yesterday told The Standard that he was aware of Wambora’s candidature as he had called him on the same and also disclosed that Wa Iria, who was his vice, had also decided not to contest for any seat.

Yesterday, the CoG Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mogeni and her team were held in a series of planning meetings even as she received applications from the county bosses contesting for various seats.

“The elections will be held at Movenpick Hotel at 10am. We have so far received applications from three governors running for the chair position, three for vice-chair and one for whip,’ said Ms Mogeni, who declined to divulge the names of the candidates for the top seats, saying its ‘confidential’.

Efforts to get a comment from Ngilu and Wambora proved futile as they did not answer calls nor text messages by the time of going to the press yesterday.

However, political intrigues are expected to play out at the elections contest today pitting pro-Handshake governors against those allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

For the first time, the election has not drawn intense lobbying as a number of preferred candidates shelved their ambitions.

A county boss described CoG as ‘Baraza la Wazee’ that should therefore conduct its affairs devoid of external interference.

“The elections should not be pitting any faction in the political scene. It is about managing devolution affairs and that should be the guiding principle,” said the county boss.

The issue of regional representation has cropped up, and Godhana has pegged it as his campaign agenda.

Since 2013, two Jubilee governors Isaac Ruto and Peter Munya have chaired CoG as well as two ODM colleagues – Josphat Nanok (Turkana) and Oparanya – and there is therefore a feeling among some that the seat should either go to Jubilee or a fringe party.

The election comes just 17 months to the General Election and at the height of BBI referendum push.

Earlier, the post of vice-chair had attracted governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and Prof Anyang' Nyong'o (Kisumu) who are squaring it out to replace Wa Iria who has served his two terms.

Prof Kibwana is the current council whip and his position has attracted only one candidate, according to Ms Mogeni.

Earlier, it was reported that governors John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Muthomi Nyuki (Tharaka/Nithi) were eying the post even though they could not be reached on phone to confirm the same.

Godhana has branded himself as the ‘fresh broom’ to clean CoG to address the governance challenges, even as he called for chairmanship post to be rotational.

Mvurya was the second vice chair of CoG after he succeeded former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.

Last election

He, however, gave a wide berth to the council elections that saw Oparanya elected to succeeded Nanok and accused his colleagues of betrayal in honouring a gentleman’s  agreement struck after the 2017 that he was the next chairperson.

The elections will take place just two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta met 10 governors from the Mt Kenya region at State House.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, who doubles as the chairperson of the Central Region Economic Bloc, said governors are respectable people in society.

“CoG elections is about governance. As governors we are expected to demonstrate high level of sobriety and provide leadership at all time. There is nothing we cannot agree on. We will deliberate and settle on the chair as has been the case,” said Kimemia

He confirmed their Wednesday meeting with the President and questioned why it was causing jitters.