Stakes high as ward reps prepare for election of speakers next week

An aerial view of a special meeting of the Members of County Assembly in Mombasa County. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Campaigns for county assembly speakers in the South Rift region are entering the homestretch with newly elected MCAs set to be sworn in next week.

A spot check by The Sunday Standard established that most MCAs were taken through induction last week ready to constitute the third county assemblies. 

Standing Orders of most counties require governors to issue a gazette notice detailing place and date of the first sitting of the new assembly within two weeks.

The Standing Orders, however, provide for the governors to extend the period by a further two weeks but not beyond 30 days after elections.

The first sitting shall start with the swearing of all members including those nominated but whose names are yet to be gazetted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Gazettement of the first sitting shall be followed by the advertising of the Speaker’s post, who would be elected after the Clerk of the County Assembly has administered the oath of to all MCAs.

With the limited time left, candidates eyeing the seat of county assembly speaker have intensified lobbying, with some burning the midnight oil to woe the new MCAs to support their bids.

In Nakuru County, five candidates have declared their interest to succeed Joel Kairu who served as the county’s second speaker between 2017 until the August election.

Kairu, who attended the induction of the new MCAs, could not confirm whether he will seek a second term, only saying that “there is still time for all that process.”

Businessman Martin Kagai, Education Chief Officer Anne Njenga, former Kuresoi MP James Koskei, lawyer Peter Bore and former Biashara MCA Joel Karuri are among the candidates.

“I was born and brought up in Subukia. I have vied for different political offices in the past. I am officially in this race to bring change to Nakuru County as speaker,” said Mr Kagai.

Koskei, who also served as Health Assistant minister in the Mwai Kibaki government, said he has enough experience to hold the position.

“I believe that the ward rep will consider me when electing their next speaker. I have been a resident of Nakuru for decades and I understand our priorities,” said Koskei.

Emerged second

Bore, an advocate of the High Court, said he has not given up after emerging second during the county speaker’s election in 2017.

“I have the qualifications and the qualities required of a speaker with my legal background being an added advantage,” said Bore.

A similar contest is shaping up in the neighbouring Baringo County assembly with nine candidates among them advocates and politicians throwing their hats in the ring.

They include Richard Koech, Sylas Tochim, Billy Kipruto, Joseph Tarus, Fridah Lotuiya, Dr Noah Chepkech, Emily Kiptui, Hillary Songoyo and Naomi Jerotich.

Koech, a certified public accountant, was the running mate of immediate former Baringo governor Stanley Kiptis and had served as the Clerk to Baringo County Assembly for two years.

“I initiated reforms at the assembly as a clerk which need follow-up and institutionalisation. I also want to turn around public service,” said Koech. Tochim is a former Tenges MCA and had in the recent elections sought the Senate seat but lost at the nominations stage. “I have been loyal and patriotic to the party that got a majority seat. I have defended the position of the party in the past and am determined to stand with Baringo residents,” said Tochim.

Mr Kipruto, a lawyer, says he is banking on his youthfulness and legal experience. He hopes to inject new energy into the leadership of the assembly.

Tarus, an advocate, vied for the Baringo South MP seat but emerged third. Ms Lotuiya, also an advocate, had contested the Speaker seat in 2017 but emerged second.

In Kericho County, immediate former Bureti MP Japheth Mutai Kiptergech is jostling for the seat against five other seasoned lawyers and politicians to take over from Mr Dominic Rono.

Lawyer Kiptergech was the county’s first Speaker before being elected MP in 2017 and says he is relying on his earlier track record in the same capacity.

“During my time as speaker, we passed more than 70 bills which is more than what the outgoing assembly did,” said Kiptergech.

Others in the race are former Finance executive Patrick Mutai who says his aim is to strengthen the assembly’s committees to effectively perform.

“Having served as the Finance executive, I am well versed with the roles of the executive and the legislature,” said Mutai.

Lawyers Davies Sang, Ben Siele, and Hillary Kirui have also tossed their hats in the ring banking on their experience in the legal practice to win the support of the new MCAs. Siele says he has what it takes to deliver.

And in Bomet, six candidates have expressed their interest in becoming speaker. The seat is currently held by Nelson Mutai who is defending it.

Mutai will be facing Bomet UDA coordinator Stephen Mutai, activist Kiprotich Samoe, businessman Cosmas Korir, former Kipsonoi MCA Weldon Kirui and lawyers Robinson Kigen and Sigey Bett.

Speaker Mutai and the UDA coordinator are touted as the favorite but Samoe has mounted a serious challenge against them.

Samoe, a political commentator known in the county for charitable activities, said he wants to lead a robust 3rd county assembly that will deliver on its mandate.

“We will achieve this through improved welfare of ward reps and staff,” he said.

[Story by Kennedy Gachuhi, Joseph Kipsang, Nikko Tanui and Gilbert Kimutai]