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Governor seat hopefuls in Rift Valley banking on clans, parties to succeed

By Steve Mkawale and Fred Kibor | June 13th 2021
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui (center) flanked by his deputy Dr Eric Korir (left), Nakuru County Assembly Speaker Joel Kairu with a section of Nakuru County Assembly MCAs and other leaders addressing the press at Nyayo Gardens on June 4, 2021 after the Senate approved a report by the senate committee on devolution and intergovernmental relations that proposed the municipality be conferred with the City charter. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

As the clock ticks toward the 2022 General Election, the list of people eyeing the seat of governor in various counties continues to grow by the day.

Voters in Narok, Kericho, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Samburu counties will be going to the ballot to replace their governors who are serving their final terms.

In Nakuru, Nyandarua, Bomet, Baringo, Nandi, West Pokot, Laikipia and Kajiado counties, the first-term governors will face new entrants angling to unseat them.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui will have a fight on his hands after Senator Susan Kihika said she will be gunning for the seat.

Kinyanjui has said he will bank on his development agenda to secure a second term.

To win voters, the governor will rely on his success in the construction of 2,000 parking slots and a bus terminus along Geoffrey Kamau Way, a centralised ambulance management system and a fire station, which have cost  Sh174 million.

The county boss is also banking on the Sh650 million upgrade of Afraha Stadium, the upgrading of Lanet airstrip to an airport at a cost of Sh3 billion, and the construction of 605 affordable housing units at Bondeni.

Kinyanjui says he has a better track record compared to his predecessor, Kinuthia Mbugua, who is the current State House Comptroller.

Mbugua and Peter Koros, who was second in the 2017 gubernatorial race, have not declared whether they will be on the ballot next year.

In Narok, development as well as clan considerations will come into play in the race to succeed Governor Samuel Tunai.

More aspirants

Among those who have declared interest are MPs Soipan Tuya (Woman Rep), Gabriel Tongoyo (Narok West MP), Korei Lemein (Narok South MP), Labour Chief Administrative Secretary Patrick ole Ntutu, and former county council administrator Stephen Koriata.

After losing to Tunai in 2013 and 2017, leaders of the populous Purko clan are said to have changed tack and will rally behind Deputy President William Ruto in an attempt to secure the votes of Kipsigis in the county.

In Uasin Gishu, where there has been talk of negotiated democracy, the front-runners include Kiprop “Buzeki” Bundotich, and Kenya’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr Julius Bitok. 

Other aspirants are Senator Margaret Kamar, Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno, Kesses MP Swarup Mishra, former Teachers Service Commission Commissioner Cleophas Tirop, former Eldoret South MP Peris Simam, MCA David Sing’oei, Nairobi County Devolution and Public Service Management Executive Veska Kangogo, and Jonathan Bii.

In Turkana, Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes, Senator Malachy Ekal, MPs John Lodepe (Turkana Central), James Lomenen (Turkana South) and Jeremiah Lomurkai (Loima), and County Assembly Speaker Ekitela Lokaale will be seeking to succeed Governor Josphat Nanok.

In Elgeyo Marakwet , Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich, former advisor to the governor Thomas Karamai, former Sasini Tea managing director Moses Changwony, former Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui, Eldoret National Polytechnic principal Josphat Sawe, and Loice Chemenjo will battle for the top county seat.

In Trans Nzoia, the race to succeed Governor Patrick Khaemba continues to heat up with the entry of more aspirants.

Spread the message

Among those eyeing the seat are long-serving Trans Nzoia Finance Executive Boniface Wanyonyi, who is an ally of Khaemba, and Kiminini MP and Ford Kenya secretary general Chris Wamalwa.

Trans Nzoia Woman Representative Janet Nangabo, former Agriculture Executive Andrew Wanyonyi, businessman Moses Khaoya, Philomen Samoei, Abrahim Singoei and Maurice Bisau, who work in Ruto’s office, will also be contenders.

In Bomet, Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party boss Isaac Ruto is said to have launched a campaign that is giving Governor Hillary Barchok sleepless nights.

Dr Barchok succeeded Joyce Laboso who died in July 2019. 

Ruto, who lost to Laboso in 2017, is expected to make planning a comeback.

He has been holding meetings, as well as attending weddings, funeral and other social functions to spread the  message that he will be on the ballot.

But Raymond Langat, a political commentator, fears that Ruto’s bid could falter if his party comes under pressure from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

The nascent UDA is closely associated with the deputy president and is fast gaining popularity in the region.

“As long as Ruto is still holding onto CCM, the UDA wave that is building up in the county may turn the tables on him and keep him in the political cold for a longer period,” said Langat.

In Kericho, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and Senator Aaron Cheuiyot are also said to be consulting widely with a view to succeeding Governor Paul Chepkwony.

Others who have thrown their hats in the ring are former Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat, Kipkelion East MP Fred Kirui, and former National Social Security Fund boss Richard Langat.

[Additional reporting by Nikko Tanui, Gilbert Kimutai and Robert Kiplagat]


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