August 9

14 senators seek to be governors next Tuesday

Monday, August 1st, 2022 00:05 | By
Sakaja’s plan to split Nairobi into boroughs lauded
Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja. PHOTO/Johnson Sakaja/Facebook

Fourteen senators are in the political arena seeking to become governors in next Tuesday’s General Election. The post is regarded as the third in the pecking order after the president and deputy president.

The number is less compared to the last poll when 17 senators contested the governorship but only six succeeded.

In the list of individuals from the Upper House vying for the governorship is Speaker Kenneth Lusaka who is seeking to recapture the Bungoma seat which he lost in 2017 to Wycliffe Wangamati, who is also keen to remain in office.

All the three senators who separately served as Majority Chief Whips in the 12th Parliament: Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Irungu  Kang’ata (Murang’a) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru), are all gunning for governor seat on the banner of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party of Deputy President William Ruto.

The three are among the six out of the nine senators from counties under the central Kenya economic bloc who are fighting for the top political post in county politics.

Senate Minority Whip James Orengo, is battling to succeed retiring Cornel Rasanga in Siaya in a race where he is facing former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo of the  United Democratic Party while in Migori, Ochilo Ayacko wants to succeed outgoing governor Okoth Obado.

Wamatangi, the only senator in central Kenya who was re-elected in 2017, is seeking to dislodge governor James Nyoro of Jubilee in an election that also has ex-governor William Kabogo (Tujibebe), Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina (Independent), his Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria (Chama Cha Kazi) and Mwende Gatabaki (Safina).

The senator said it was time for Kiambu to make meaningful progress by electing a seasoned leader with the right qualifications, trusted experience and is ready to correct messes by past county leaderships.

“I have been the senator for Kiambu in the last 10 years, and the role of a senator is to oversee devolution and, in my role, I had a good chance to see what has been happening in Kiambu compared to other 46 counties. I have good and bad examples of what a county should look like after 10  years,” Wamatangi told People Daily yesterday.

In Murang’a, Kang’ata is in a competition with Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau of Jubilee, who is making a second stab at the seat currently occupied by the retiring Mwangi Wa Iria.

Moving up the ladder

The former University of Nairobi student leader is keen to scale the political ladder, having successfully ascended from a councillor in the defunct Murang’a County Council to Kiharu MP and later senator.

“It is the vision for a good and better county that’s spurring our interest in the seat. Being a senator helps us understand the best way to manage a county. We have oversighted counties and understand what works. Having led the senate as a Chief Whip, we got opportunities to tour the world and see how best counties are managed,” said the senator.

A TIFA poll released on July 14 showed Kang’ata leading at 58 per cent followed by Jamleck Kamau of Jubilee at 13 per cent. Wairagu wa Maai and Irungu Nyakera had five and three per cent support, respectively

Kihika, who in 2017 rose from being Nakuru Speaker to become one of the three first female senators, seeks to vanquish incumbent Lee Kinyanjui of Jubilee.

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina of Jubilee Party is seeking to remove incumbent Mutahi Kahiga who is defending his position on UDA while Kirinyaga’s Charles Kibiru is the county’s governor candidate for Jubilee in the race that has among them Anne Waiguru (UDA) and Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici (Independent).

 In Meru, Mithika Linturi, who in 2017 rose from a constituency MP to a Senator, is seeking to displace Governor Kiraitu Murungi (Bus), who joined the governors league from the senate in the last polls.

Others on the list are Nairobi’s Johnson Sakaja, his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jr who hopes to succeed outgoing Prof Kivutha Kibwana, Cleophas Malala who wants to succeed  Wycliffe Oparanya, George Khaniri who is facing Wilberforce Ottichilo in the Vihiga race, as well as Kisii’s Prof Sam Ongeri ( Democratic Action Party), who is facing stiff challenge from  Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati of Orange Democratic Movement.

 A Tifa opinion poll released last month indicated that Arati would be elected Kisii governor by an overwhelming majority.

The survey showed that more than two-thirds of the total vote.

UDA candidate Ezekiel Machogu would emerge a distant second with 11 per cent of the vote. Machogu’s figures are lower than the undecided vote, which stood at 15 per cent

 During the last elections, eleven senators paid a heavy price for being too ambitious, after their bids to become governors in their respective counties were rejected by voters.  Nine of the senators had their dreams cut short during the main pool, while two others had their hopes frustrated during the party primaries.

Those, whose ambitions saw them being sent to the political oblivion include former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar, who is making a second stab for the governorship, Dr. Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Lenny Kivuti (Embu), Chris Obure (Kisii) and David Musila (Kitui) all of who are making a second stab for the seat, James Mungai (Nakuru), Kennedy Mong’are (Nyamira) and Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua).

Former Turkana Senator John Munyes and Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri) also lost in their bid to be governors, but while their former colleagues remained in oblivion for five years, the two were picked to the Cabinet.

However Mike Sonko, the then Nairobi senator dislodged Evans Kidero, but lost the post through an impeachment, John Lonyangapuo replaced Simon Kachapin in West Pokot. Kiraitu took over from Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya in Meru, Mohammed Kuti ousted Godana Doyo in Isiolo, Prof Anyang Nyong’o unseated Jack Ranguma in Kisumu whereas Stephen Sang, then 32 years became the second Nandi governor.

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