Opponents give Lonyangapuo sleepless nights in West Pokot
Former West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin and deputy governor Dr Nicholas Atudonyang are giving incumbent Prof John Lonyangapuo sleepless nights in the county’s gubernatorial race.
The political battle is also seen as an acid test for Deputy President William Ruto, who has been making inroads in the region with his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) as he seeks to stamp his authority as Rift Valley political supremo.
Ruto is banking on Kachapin of UDA, who is seeking to reclaim the seat he lost to Lonyangapuo of the Kenya Union Party (KUP) in 2017.
Notably, the race is also seen to be between Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and Ruto who have been embroiled in a protracted battle for control of the Rift Valley vote.
The county grapples with numerous challenges including poverty, high illiteracy levels and rampant cases of insecurity and any candidate who will show commitment to tackle these will have an upper hand on August 9.
The devolved unit receives over Sh5.6 billion from the national government and over Sh100 million from local revenue.
Atundonyang, who lives in the US, has fallen out with his boss and is plotting to unseat him on a Kanu ticket. “This is a person I mentored politically and is now biting the hand that fed him. I understand he has acquired a lot of money to come back and fight me. Let him come because I am up to the task,” Lonyangapuo told People Daily.
Lonyangapuo argues that Atundonyang absconded duty while drawing a salary from public coffers.
Atundonyang has been working in Texas, United States, as a neurosurgeon. However, Atundonyang has defended himself from the absentee complaints, arguing that he has done a lot including linking the devolved unit with donors abroad.
“This has seen many health facilities equipped with modern medical equipment and adequate medicine that has never been witnessed in any other county in the country,” Atundonyang said.
He accuses his boss of failing to deliver on his campaign pledges and is now engaging in blame game.
“I have advised him a lot on issues affecting the county but he does not listen to anybody. I am coming back to show him the real meaning of leadership,” Atundonyang said.
Lonyangapuo has settled on Luka Chepelion, former county Executive as his running mate while Kachapin has picked Suam Ward Rep Robert Komole.
Dr Atudonyang on his part has settled on Musa Anup.
Prof Lonyangapuo yesterday expressed optimism that he will recapture the seat, arguing that he has accomplished a lot during his time in office.
“Let them be ready for a bruising political battle. I will embarrass them at the ballot,” Governor Lonyangapuo noted. He boasts of allocating more than Sh700 million for bursaries and health sector.
He enjoys the support of outspoken Pokot South MP David Pkosing, who has fallen out with DP Ruto.
Lonyangapuo has accused Kachapin of what he calls mismanagement during his term in office.
“The county lost billions of shillings after his regime inflated the cost of projects to award tenders to briefcase contractors. Many development projects have stalled due to corruption,” Lonyangapuo claimed.
Kachapin, a close DP ally has, however, told off Lonyangapuo and dared him to prepare to hand over to him.
“He (Lonyangapuo) has nothing to show for the five years he has been in office. He has ignored all the projects I initiated. I want to come back and complete them,” he said.
Kachapin further claimed many health facilities were grappling with acute drug shortage yet the governor was claiming that he has allocated Sh2.8 million to the health sector.
“I want to come back and rectify the mess. Many people have died due to poor health care,” said Kachapin who enjoys the support of Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto.
“Being the first governor, I laid down a strong foundation but the current regime ignored them due to political reasons. What we are witnessing in the county is massive corruption,” Kachapin stated.