Former county chiefs seek to stage a coup on incumbents
| Dec 9th 2021 | 4 min read
With less than a year to the next General Election, political ambition for elective posts at the county level is gaining momentum by the day.
Even as presidential candidates crisscross parts of the country in vote-hunt missions, their supporters at the grassroots are trying to outshine one another ahead of party nominations expected early next year.
Deputy President William Ruto’s supporters in the Rift Valley region are wrestling for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.
The stampede for the ticket could spoil careers for some candidates if the current contest for the governor posts is anything to go by.
Some first-term governors are struggling to defend their seats as their predecessors stage schemes for a comeback.
In Baringo County, it will not be a walk in the park for Governor Stanley Kiptis as his predecessor Benjamin Cheboi is keen to make a comeback.
Speaking to The Standard, Cheboi said he would be seeking to recapture the seat on a UDA Party ticket.
“I have many plans for Baringo County, some of which I had begun during my first term,” said Cheboi.
This has thrown a spin to Governor Kiptis’ bid as he is also seeking re-election through the same party.
“Last time, people voted by euphoria. They now have an administration to compare my performance with,” said Cheboi.
Kiptis on his part has exuded confidence that he will successfully defend the seat.
Like his counterparts, Kiptis has intensified formal and informal meetings with the electorate.
In Nakuru County, Governor Lee Kinyanjui will be seeking re-election through his new party, Ubuntu People’s Forum (UPF).
However, Kinyanjui faces hurdles in his quest, with his main challenger being the firebrand Senator Susan Kihika.
The governor, who has been drumming support for former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid, has dismissed claims that he is seeking to be his running mate.
“I have great plans for Nakuru, and leaving the governorship now will be the same as abandoning my child for another,” said Kinyanjui.
Kihika, who has thrown her weight behind DP Ruto, has declared her intentions to unseat Kinyanjui through the UDA party.
“I am confident I will be the next governor for Nakuru. UDA has made inroads across the county. We are ready to face off with those campaigning for an ODM presidential candidate,” said Kihika.
In Nyandarua County, it will be a battle of titans as two career civil servants face off at the ballot.
Governor Francis Kimemia, in his first term in office, joined politics in 2017 after serving as the head of public service and holding other senior positions in government.
Kimemia will be facing off with Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki. The two have co-hosted Odinga during his forays in the county and have a keen eye to protect President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy in the region.
While Kimemia has been capitalising on the county’s infrastructure projects, Kariuki has been endearing herself through water and irrigation projects under her docket.
Being a civil servant, Kariuki has not officially declared her candidature, but sources close to her have indicated that she is set to quit Cabinet before the constitutional deadline set for early next year.
In Bomet, Governor Hillary Barchok and Chama Cha Mashinani Party leader Isaac Ruto are flexing their political muscles for a faceoff in the Bomet Governorship race.
The CCM Party leader is seeking to make a political comeback and has declared support for DP Ruto.
Isaac lost the seat in 2017 to former Governor Joyce Laboso and is banking on his newfound political relationship to regain the seat.
The former governor has defended his decision to rally behind the DP, saying it is not about his political survival but the unity of the region.
“I am not following DP because he is a Kalenjin or I want to be a governor, but what he stands for is what we believe in as CCM and is good for the country,” he said.
Barchok, on his part, hopes to retain the seat on a UDA ticket.
He is confident that he will clinch the party ticket, saying his development track record will propel him to victory.
“This election is about development records, and none of my opponents matches what I have done in a short period,” he said.
Also facing stiff competition is Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku.
Lenku’s predecessor David Ole Nkedianye, Kajiado South MP Katoo Ole Metitu, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko and former National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) boss Francis Meja have since shown interest to unseat him.
In Nandi County, competition is at a fever pitch to an extent that Governor Stephen Sang was among the several aspiring candidates that hang around DP Ruto’s vehicle hoping to capture his attention during a tour of the region about two weeks ago.
The candidates clinched at the car rails for several minutes until the DP concluded his address in Kapsabet town and Kilibwoni before asking them to salute the crowds and state the positions they are contesting.
Sang, the country’s youngest governor currently, is facing competition from former Governor Cleophas Lagat, Allan Kosgey, a Nairobi lawyer and son to former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey, Nandi speaker Joshua Kiptoo and Antipas Tirop, a former Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) employee.
Governor Sang, Kosgey and Dr Lagat did not answer calls when reached for comments yesterday.
[Reports by Kennedy Gachuhi, Titus Too and Gilbert Kimutai]
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