Low key campaigns in Nakuru as aspirants switch their game plans

It has been a quiet political season in Nakuru County with aspirants eyeing various elective seats appearing to have taken different political approaches and tactics in their campaigns.

The county that has in the past been vibrant with huge campaign rallies and roadshows is relatively silent even during this time of party primaries.

Compared to the 2013 and 2017 general elections, the 2022 campaigns lack the excitement and hype that was brought by the alliance between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

It is here in Nakuru City that the political marriage between The National Alliance (TNA) party and the United Republican Party (URP) happened to form Jubilee Party.

But this time round, most of those going for seats in the county have avoided public rallies and roadshows, which they say are costly and do not have much impact at the early stages of the campaigns.

They have resulted in initiating empowerment programmes for the youth, women and the elderly as they articulate their policies.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who is seeking a second term, has chosen to use his development projects as a way to woo voters to his side.

His team has been busy unveiling projects and launching new ones as the governor prepares to take on his archrival, Senator Susan Kihika of United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

As Kihika criss-crosses the county staging public rallies and roadshows, Kinyanjui has chosen to engage voters in organised town hall-like meetings and launch new programmes.

The governor plans to launch his re-election campaign after the party primaries, saying he is first fulfilling his mandate by delivering on his promises before hitting the road to seek a second term.

“I had a five-year contract with voters. I need to ensure that most of what I promised them in my first term is delivered. Then I will embark on a re-election campaign,” he told the Standard.

Kihika, who has no challenger, has chosen to use UDA rallies to market her candidature in the company of Kenya Kwanza leaders, including Deputy President William Ruto.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama, seeking a third five-year term, has opened the doors to his home in London Estate to potential voters for weekend feasts.

“My constituents embrace me because I’m always available whenever they need me. My accessibility has paid off. I have also supported the youth and women groups at all times besides constructing and building new schools in the constituency,” he told the Sunday Standard last week.

In 2017, he held many roadshows and rallies, which he says he had decided to avoid at the early stage of his campaigns.

 Arama is seeking the Jubilee Party ticket to face off with ODM’s Isoe Ochoki and the winner in UDA primary. Those seeking the UDA ticket are former Nakuru deputy mayor Mwangi Kariko, Francisca Kamuren, Paul Mwangi, Richard Obino and long-serving Shabab Ward MCA Kamau Githengi.

Irene Njoki, who is seeking the Jubilee Party ticket to unseat Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, has been active in social media empowerment programmes that have made her visible in the constituency.

“My strategy is to empower the youth and women in equal measure in one way or the other for them to sustain themselves economically. We want to ensure they become independent members of the society,” said Njoki.

 Ngunjiri, on his part, has completely changed his strategy from harambees and public rallies to door-to-door meetings across the villages.

 Ngunjiri acknowledges that it is self-defeating to employ similar strategies every election year.

“In 2017, we promised people development and other goodies but we are asking them to gauge our development record and judge us with that. This does not need political rallies and roadshows but close and personal engagements with the constituents,” he said.

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara, who is seeking a third term, has stuck to roadshows and rallies as her mode of engaging with voters.

“Roadshows are very instrumental in my strategy to win another term in Parliament. But the voters know exactly what I have done for them for the past decade and what I’m capable to do if given another term in office,” she said.