Battle to succeed Khaemba hots up as more eye seat

With Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba (pictured) exiting the stage next year after the constitutional-bound two terms, the race to succeed him is already shaping up.

With 16 months to the next polls in 2022, those interested in succeeding Khaemba have already began laying strategies.

Among those eyeing the seat include a long-serving member of Khaemba’s cabinet.

Finance Executive Boniface Wanyonyi, a close ally of Khaemba, says he wants to continue with the legacy of his boss.

Others eyeing the seat include Ford Kenya’s Secretary General Chris Wamalwa, who is also Kiminini MP, Trans-Nzoia Woman Representative Janet Nangabo, former Agriculture Executive Andrew Wanyonyi, businessman Moses Khaoya and Philomen Samoei

Also said to be in the race is Abrahim Singoei and Maurice Bisau, both who work in the office of Deputy President William Ruto.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa is also said to be waiting for the outcome of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) before making his decision. But he has not gone public on his intentions.

Wanyonyi’s entry in the race has caused jitters, with some fearing that he might have the blessings of the incumbent since he enjoys solid grassroots support. 

“He is one of the trusted people in Khaemba’s inner political cycle and the governor has a soft spot for him. Actually, the governor is behind his bid and has the blessing to inherit his seat,’’ a close ally of the governor who declined to be named told us. 

Before his appointment to Khaemba’s Cabinet, Wanyonyi was chief finance manager at Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF), where he was instrumental in mobilising resources to finance water development in the country.

Denied claims

Wanyonyi said he is set to inherit his boss in 2022, but denied claims that he had been endorsed by the governor. 

“Apart from being my boss, the governor is my friend and I will not hesitate to request for his support when the right time comes but for now I’m committed to my responsibilities as Finance executive,” he said.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula-led Ford Kenya, which Dr Wamalwa serves as SG, is viewed to be popular in the area going by the outcome of the past two elections.

On many occasions, Wetang’ula has openly referred to Dr Wamalwa as the ‘next governor’ of Trans Nzoia, an indication that Ford Kenya could hand a direct ticket to him to contest in the gubernatorial race.

Political pundits reckon that Trans Nzoia race is not easy to predict due to its cosmopolitan nature.

“Trans Nzoia is a cosmopolitan area and many do not want to elect a confrontational leader. They want a leader who will unite communities and ensure equality,’’ says Sammy Thuo, a political analyst.

Bisau is another man to watch in the race having narrowly lost to Khaemba (pictured) in the last two general elections. 

He still commands support across various ethnic communities in the area. He also enjoys support from a section of boda boda riders. It will be his third attempt after his bids in 2013 and 2017 general elections. 

“You cannot underrate Bisau. He has experience in the game and still commands support across the ethnic groups in the county but the choice on the running mate is critical,’’ argues David Too, a political strategist. 

Seen by many as the most preferable candidate of the DP, Bisau’s association with Ruto gives him advantage owing to the influence that the second in command enjoys on the ground. 

It is worth noting that the Kalenjin vote in the area will go to a candidate allied to the DP. 

Mrs Nangabo, Samoei, Singoei and Bisau are all close allies of the DP. 

Sources close to the DP confided that a formula is being worked to settle on a strong candidate who will face Dr Wamalwa and Wanyonyi at the ballot.

Eyes will still be on Eugene who has strong influence in the county but is yet to announce publicly whether he will run for the seat. 

Political analysts argue that Eugene has solid support from various ethnic groups in the county and has a big chance to clinch the seat.